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10 of the World's Most Addictive Drugs

A National Survey conducted on Drug Use and Health in America said that there are 19.7 million American adults who battled substance use disorder in 2017. The latest count states that the number of Americans with at least one addiction has risen to 21 million, but only 10% of them get treatment. As addiction treatment professionals, we strive to help those who seek help find a solution to their addiction problems.

Drug addiction is not something to be taken lightly. Millions have died of overdose and abuse of harmful substances. If you fear that a loved one may be suffering from addiction, it will pay to know more about the most addictive drugs, the symptoms of use, and the consequences of getting addicted to them.

1. Heroin

A form of an opioid drug derived from Morphine, heroin’s dependence score was highest among all the drugs tested at 3.00. People who use heroin experience a rush of euphoria after using the drug. Heroin could either be smoked, snorted, or injected. Heroin users may develop a tolerance for the drug, so they increase their dosage to get the effect they want.

Due to the symptoms that a person in withdrawal experiences, many users relapse and continue their drug use. Some signs of withdrawal that one may experience include diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes, severe bone, and muscle pain, uncontrollable leg shaking, and restlessness, among others. When used long-term, heroin can cause loss of white matter in the brain, which alters one’s behavior and decision-making.

2. Cocaine

Taking the second spot at 2.39 is cocaine. This is made from the coca plant’s leaves and is usually snorted. Drug dealers sometimes mix cocaine with other white powders like talcum powder, cornstarch, or flour so they’ll profit more. There are dealers who mix Cocaine with Fentanyl which increases the risk of overdose for those who take it. The effects of cocaine include an increase in the levels of dopamine in the brain and may even stop communication between nerve cells. When the brain becomes less sensitive to dopamine, users take more to get high.

Withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, depression, insomnia and nightmares, and a slowed thinking process. Additionally, those who are cocaine-addicted may experience a runny nose, nosebleeds, and loss of smell.

3. Tobacco

There’s a reason millions of people around the world smoke. Tobacco is highly addictive, and with a dependence score of 2.21, it is third on this list. The nicotine content of tobacco is what makes it so addictive. Aside from cigarettes, people use cigars, pipes, and drips to take tobacco.

Withdrawal from tobacco starts from extreme craving for it, an increased appetite, irritability, lost focus, and trouble sleeping, among others.

4. Methadone

Methadone is used for heroin and narcotic painkiller addiction treatment to control the user’s cravings. The problem is, many get addicted to it too. While it scored low on the pleasure factor for dependence, it got a high score in psychological and physical dependence at 2.08. Methadone may be taken as an oral solution, a tablet, or an injectable. This drug is known in the streets as amidone, chocolate chip cookies, wafer, Maria, fizzies, or salvia.

A person addicted to Methadone may experience withdrawal symptoms like extreme abdominal cramps, anxiety, diarrhea, muscle tremors, nausea, and vomiting.

5. Barbiturates

This type of depressant received a score of 2.01 for dependence—intake results in various central nervous system depression that ranges from mild sedation to comatose. While barbiturates are available as a pill, many prefer injecting it into their body in liquid form. The generic names for barbiturates include Amobarbital, Pentobarbital, Tuinal, Phenobarbital, and Secobarbital.

The most common effects of barbiturates include anxiety relief, euphoria, lack of inhibition, and sleepiness. Those who are withdrawing from this drug may suffer from anxiety, dizziness, insomnia, psychosis, and seizure. If not properly treated, barbiturate addiction may lead to circulatory failure, hypothermia, or even death.

6. Alcohol

The most widely used psychoactive substance in the United States is alcohol. There are more than 14 million adults suffering from alcohol use disorder, and 86% of all adults have consumed alcohol at least once. It ranked high in the pleasure factor for dependence which does not come as a surprise. Most people drink alcohol to celebrate or to feel relaxed.

The problem is, of course, when drinking is done excessively. It comes with health issues like alcohol poisoning, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, memory issues, and stroke.

7. Benzodiazepines

Called Benzos by those who take them, Benzodiazepines have been prescribed medication in the US for anxiety and seizures. They are abused by some people because of their highly addictive properties. Some examples of this drug include Xanax, Valium, and Restoril.

After up to 4 days of stopping intake, users might experience sleep disturbance, nausea and headache, muscular pain, and panic attacks, among others. Benzo withdrawal can be fatal in extreme cases, which is why it is highly recommended that Benzo addiction recovery be supervised.

8. Amphetamine

Amphetamines are intended for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. However, it is highly addictive, and because it’s been illegally produced for years in the form of Meth, millions of people have been abusing its use, too. It has a score of 1.67 for dependence. Meth is smoked, snorted, injected, mixed with coffee, or swallowed. Users feel immediate effects of high energy, confidence, increased sex drive, and high levels of happiness. It also causes teeth grinding and dry mouth, as well as increased heart rate.

Withdrawal symptoms like nightmares, pain, depression, exhaustion, and irritability typically disappear after a month of not using Meth.

9. Buprenorphine

As the use of opioids continues to spread, experts try to counter addiction to this substance with Buprenorphine and other medications. The intention is to suppress Opioid withdrawal symptoms, stop the cravings and block their effects. Users, however, like its euphoric and sedative effects and abuse it. Its dependence score is 1.64.

10. Cannabis

Rounding up this list of the ten most addictive drugs is Cannabis, or more commonly called marijuana, dagga, zol or choef with a score of 1.51. Cannabis comes from the Cannabis sativa and Cannabis Indica plants. It is used as a medicinal drug for pain relief and for those suffering from nerve pain and multiple sclerosis. There are studies that say it also helps those who have Parkinson’s disease and glaucoma.

Some people question the addictive properties of marijuana, but 30% of users show signs that a disorder may be associated with dependence on this drug. Also, it is worth noting that those who start using marijuana before the age of 18 are up to 7 times more likely to suffer from Marijuana use disorder. Withdrawal symptoms may include cravings, mood swings, restlessness, and more.

In conclusion, drug addiction is a serious concern and it affects millions across the world. Knowing more about drug addiction and these addictive drugs could help you recognize the symptoms of use or withdrawal in your loved one who may be addicted to any of these. Because of the health consequences of using and withdrawing from these substances, it is recommended that you ask for immediate assistance if you notice symptoms in your friend or family member.


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