The most dangerous drugs may be sitting in your medicine cabinet. A recent news report analyzed the rates of death and risks for drugs and drug combinations to determine the 25 most dangerous drugs. Many well-known and frequently used drugs appear on the list including:
Information was gathered from several online sources as well as reports from the federal government and the American Medical Association. The drugs may be safe when used correctly, but these drugs can be fatal when improperly combined or abused.
The Most Dangerous Drugs Were Not Opioids
When Americans think of the most dangerous drugs, we often think of opioids. Opioid addiction has been a prevalent issue in American society. However, the most dangerous drugs in the world are not strictly opioids or narcotics. The most dangerous drug was determined by a few factors, including mortality rates associated with that drug’s use or abuse. These deaths are frequently accidental.
Acetaminophen Was the Most Dangerous Drug
In a list of the top 10 most dangerous drugs, most people would not think of a drug as common as acetaminophen. But 24/7 Wall Street’s investigation shows that what we typically think of as just Tylenol can be considered the world’s most dangerous drug. Acetaminophen is responsible for some of the most dangerous drug interactions, according to an article published by the American Council on Science and Health. It explains that there is a high potential for toxicity and liver damage from an overdose of acetaminophen. Additionally, because most people view the drug as innocuous, that perception may contribute to its unintentional abuse.
Alcohol Was the Second Most Dangerous Drug
Among the top 10 most dangerous drugs comes another unlikely contender, and that is alcohol. Often, we don’t perceive alcohol as a drug, but it is.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2015, 26.9% of people in the United States reported binge drinking within the past month. The same report states that of the nearly 79,000 cases of death as a result of liver disease in 2015, 47% of those cases were the result of alcohol abuse. The risk of heavy and continued alcohol use is degenerative and can have long-term consequences on a person’s health.
Benzodiazepines Were the Third Most Dangerous Kind of Drug
This class includes some of the most dangerous prescription drugs because they are strong sedatives. When prescribed for sleep, anxiety or seizures, these drugs can offer relief, but they are also abused and sold illegally as downers and can be lethal.
Other Dangerous Drugs
A list of the most dangerous drugs ranked based on addiction risk, potential negative interactions and other factors will include the following:
- Anticoagulants (Warfarin): This drug is among the 7 most dangerous prescription drugs that can cause interactions with alcohol and other drugs. Anticoagulants are also referred to as antiplatelets or blood thinners. Use should be carefully monitored as the right dosage is very important. Anticoagulants include Coumadin, Pradaxa, Xarelto and Arixtra.
- Antidepressants (SSRIs): One of the 5 most dangerous drugs that may be susceptible to abuse and addiction are SSRIs, or antidepressants. Certain antidepressants can be dangerous when taken with alcohol (such as Celexa and Exeffor) and may cause side effects that impact sexual performance or weight gain. Any drug that influences brain chemicals should not be combined with narcotics or psychotic drugs. SSRI antidepressants include Lexapro, Celexa, Zoloft, Exeffor, Paxil and Prozac.
- Anti-Hypertensive Drugs: Blood pressure medications impact heart health and can be diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers and more. Some people are at risk for angioedema or other serious side effects. Anti-Hypertensive drugs include Diovan, Cozaar, Teveten, Avapro and Atacand.
- Bromocriptine: Bromocriptine may be used to treat hyperprolactinemia, which has an impact on fertility. It is also used to treat tumors, regulate blood pressure and treat Parkinson’s disease. It works in dopamine receptors and nerve control, so it can cause negative health effects if used with other dopamine-influencing drugs. The name brands of bromocriptine are Parlodel and Cycloset.
- Clarithromycin: This drug can be used to treat bacterial infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. It also may be helpful for stomach ulcers. It can have side effects that include diarrhea, vomiting, pain and nausea. Clarithromycin drugs include Anzopac, Biaxin and Biaxin XL.
- Clozapine: The drug Clozapine has been used to treat schizophrenia. Studies have shown that it decreases aggressive behavior in patients with this condition. Serious side effects can include blood conditions, seizures and fainting. Clozapine drugs include FazaClo ODT, Versacloz and Clozaril.
- Cocaine: Cocaine continues to be one of the 10 most dangerous street drugs. Cocaine is dangerous and can cause a stroke or heart attack. It may also put the user at risk for hepatitis or HIV/AIDS if they inject the drug with unclean needles. Cocaine use may also lead to addiction.
- Colchicine: This drug prevents attacks of gout and has been used to treat Mediterranean fever. It can stop swelling and provide relief from the symptoms of these conditions. It has been shown to potentially cause poisoning and toxicity, which can lead to death. Colchicine may also be called Colcrys.
- Cough medicine: The active ingredients in cough medicine may include guaifenesin, phenylephrine and dextromethorphan. Cough medicine can be used to make methamphetamine, which is a dangerous and illegal drug. Cough medicine can be addictive. Types of cough medicine include Robitussin, Vicks, Dlesym and Mucinex.
- Digoxin: Heart problems can be treated with digoxin. Heart pain and post-heart attack treatment may be helped by this drug. Alcohol can cause negative interactions, as can numerous other drugs, including thyroid medication and diuretics. Digoxin drugs may include Lanoxin, Crystodigin and Lanoxicaps.
- Heroin and Semi-Synthetic Opioids: Because of its abuse potential, many people wonder, “is heroin the most dangerous drug?” It is highly addictive and susceptible to abuse. Heroin is made from poppies and influences the opioid receptors in the brain. Heroin addiction may require substance abuse rehabilitation and treatment.
- MDMA: MDMA is an amphetamine analogue and may be referred to as ecstasy. This is an illegal stimulant and hallucinogenic drug that is often available in rave or club cultures around the world. MDMA can cause behavioral changes, memory loss and psychosis.
- Methamphetamine: Meth or crystal meth is a stimulant that causes euphoria and is highly addictive. It is known as an upper and can be subject to overdose because it is unregulated and sold in multiple forms.
- Methotrexate: This drug may be used to treat psoriasis, tumors, or even cancer, but can have serious side effects. These dangerous side effects include decreased blood cells, liver damage, lung damage and lymphoma. Methotrexate is sold as Rasuvo, Trexall, Amethopterin, Otrexup and Rheumatrex.
- NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs, are among the 20 most dangerous drugs. They can be used to treat pain from arthritis or ulcers. Stomach bleeding and kidney problems are some of the possible negative side effects, and mixing NSAIDs like Aspirin with alcohol can cause harmful side effects as well. NSAIDs are sold as Naptorxen, Piroxicam, Diclofenac, Ibuprofen and Aspirin.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: SSRIs are a class of antidepressants that influence brain chemistry.
- Sildenafil: In a list of the top 20 most dangerous drugs, you may find sildenafil, which is sold as Viagra or Cialis, and is used for erectile dysfunction or impotence in men. It may also be used, as the drug Revatio, to help adults with high blood pressure breathe more easily during exercise. This drug should not be taken with any drugs that have nitrates and has interactions with multiple other drugs that can cause serious health conditions.
- Spironolactone: Patients with edema, heart failure, or low potassium may benefit from this drug. It can cause serious organ damage and has caused laboratory animals to grow tumors. Spironolactone is sold under the name brand Aldactone.
- Statins: Lipitor, Pravachol, Crestor, Livalo, Lescol and Zocor are name brands for statin drugs. These drugs help lower cholesterol. People with liver disease or women who are pregnant should not take these drugs. They may cause muscle problems and adverse interactions when mixed with other drugs like alcohol.
- Synthetic opioids: Fentanyl is the most common synthetic opioid. Opioids are used to manage chronic pain but are highly susceptible to abuse and addiction. Fentanyl can be prescribed as a skin patch and is called Duragesic or Ionsys.
- TMP/SMX: An SMX-TMP injection is called Co-trimoxazole and can be used to treat lung, intestine or urinary tract infections (UTIs). This drug must not be combined with alcohol and cannot be used by people who are sensitive to the sun, have seizures or are diagnosed with asthma.
- Tobacco: Tobacco is often consumed as nicotine in combustible cigarettes, chew or e-cigarettes. Tobacco has no approved medical use and can lead to addiction as well as cancer, strokes, and macular degeneration.
Avoiding Danger with the Most Dangerous Drugs
Some of the most dangerous drugs included on this list are prescription medications. Not only do many prescription medications pose risks of negative side effects or potential interactions if mixed with other substances, but they are also often abused. If you’re currently taking medication that is on the list of most dangerous drugs, it is important that you understand the risks and work with your doctor to find the best pharmaceutical therapy for your condition and always take medication exactly how it is prescribed.
Whenever drugs are being abused, there is the possibility of developing dependence or addiction. If you’re struggling with addiction, we are here to help. Contact us today and get the help you deserve.
Bloom, Josh. “Is Tylenol ‘By Far The Most Dangerous Drug Ever Made?’” American Council on Science and Health, September 11, 2017. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Finkelstein, Y. et al. “Colchicine poisoning: the dark side of an ancient drug.” Clinical Toxicology, June 2010. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Medlineplus.gov. “Drugs and supplements.” N.D. Accessed August 14, 2019.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “High Blood Pressure.” N.D. Accessed August 14, 2019.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” Updated August 2018. Accessed August 14, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs.” Revised October 2011. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Sauter, Michael B. “25 Most Dangerous Drugs.” 24/7 Wall Street, July 25, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019.
United States Drug Enforcement Administration. “Benzodiazepines.” N.D. Accessed August 14, 2019.
Volavka, J. “The effects of clozapine on aggression and substance abuse in schizophrenic patients.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 1999. Accessed August 14, 2019.