There are a variety of factors that influence whether someone will develop an addiction and to which drugs. Some people are genetically predisposed. Some people grow up watching a parent binge drink and end up emulating the habit. Others might fall into one specific drug because it’s what everyone in their peer group is currently using. Still, there are some drugs that are inherently more addictive than others. Here are the top ten.
First is heroin. As an opiate, it affects opioid receptors throughout the body and mimics endorphins, which reduces pain and causes pleasure. The body learns that heroin produces positive effects and encourages us to use it again and again.
Second on the list is crack cocaine. The intensity of the high combined with the method of ingestion – smoking, which delivers the effects faster – makes it more addictive than snorted powder.
Nicotine comes in third. It becomes addictive by activating a reward pathway in the brain. Cigarettes, cigars, e-, liquids – there are a variety of ways to ingest nicotine. More than one in five adult daily nicotine smokers attempt to quit, and multiple tries are usually necessary.
Methadone is fourth. It is an opioid that is used to treat pain, but it can also be used to treat withdrawal symptoms in people recovering from opioid addiction.
Crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth, for short) is the fifth most addictive. It affects norepinephrine production and dopamine production, and after prolonged use, addicts will find themselves unable to enjoy or take pleasure in anything without meth in their systems.
Alcohol is legal and often an important part of social gatherings, and many people don’t view it as particularly dangerous. However, more than 80,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States.
Seventh on the list is cocaine. Cocaine causes the body to release excessive amounts of dopamine, meaning the brain associates it with pleasure. It is so addictive that people can develop an addiction after just a few uses.
Amphetamines are eighth. They stimulate the central nervous system and are legally prescribed to people with ADHD. When used improperly, people can easily build up a tolerance to them, needing more and more of the drug to get the same high.
Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are in ninth place. They are sedatives that become addictive after long term use, because of the tendency of the body to build up a tolerance to them.
Tenth on the list is a drug you might not have heard of – GHB. GHB is a central nervous system depressant, meaning it calms anxiety and promotes relaxation. It is also known as G, Georgia Home Boy, Goop, Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid X, Soap, and Scoop.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.