The majority were for chronic and prolonged ailments like back pain, but some say they are ineffective in as many as 90 per cent of cases.
Opioids, mainly fentanyl, oxycodone, tramadol, morphine sulfate, buprenorphine cost £263million a year, NHS Digital figures show, but there is controversy over their “seductive” effect.
The Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan, 46, was feared to have died from a suspected opioid overdose in January and TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, 58, forced herself to come off tramadol after a horse riding accident in 2012.
The drugs have also been linked to the deaths of musicians Prince and Tom Petty.
Overall, 1.11 billion prescriptions were issued in England last year, a marginal increase on 2016, at a total cost of £9.17billion.
The most prescribed drugs were cholesterolbusting atorvastatin, given out 37 million times, and thyroid medicine levothyroxine sodium, issued 31 million times.
GPs wrote almost 20 million paracetamol prescriptions, costing £61.9million.
Royal College of GPs chairwoman Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said more prescriptions were inevitable as patients lived longer.