While all drugs have the potential for abuse, some are naturally more addictive than others. Highly addictive drugs share several similarities. They all affect the brain, lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and require professional addiction treatment. Let’s explore seven of the most addictive drugs and why they’re so addictive.
1. Crystal Meth
Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, is an addictive stimulant drug. Crystal meth users will smoke, snort, or inject the drug. Crystal meth provides a short, intense high that leads to euphoria, and a rush of energy, and a boost in confidence.Many argue that crystal meth is the most addictive drug in the world since crystal meth is three times as powerful as cocaine. Meth also leads to dependency faster than any other substance. Crystal meth is notorious as the most difficult drug to quit. Crystal meth releases more dopamine in the brain compared to any other drug. Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter that serves a number of functions, including the feeling of pleasure. When crystal meth leads to a powerful surge of dopamine in the brain, we feel motivated to seek it out again and again. This is how crystal meth addiction develops.
2. Crack Cocaine
Cocaine is another addictive stimulant drug. In its crystal form, it is known as crack cocaine. Powder cocaine carries a strong risk of addiction, but crack cocaine is even more addictive, especially because drug addicts smoke the drug. When you smoke crack cocaine, the drug immediately crosses from the lungs into the bloodstream. It then quickly makes its way to the brain. Snorted cocaine, in contrast, takes a slower route throughout the body. This provides a less intense and longer-lasting high. Crack cocaine users become easily addicted to the drug due to its fast onset and immediate and intense euphoric high. Crack cocaine also leads to a higher production of dopamine in the brain. This substance, therefore, can produce stronger feelings of pleasure and positive mood.
Heroin, also known as diamorphine, is an opioid drug, tapping into the opioid receptors in the brain. As an opioid, the effects of heroin are different to crack cocaine or meth. For instance, a high from heroin is not stimulating. Heroin causes a sedative feeling, leading to feelings of relaxation, peace, and coziness. Like similar addictive drugs, though, heroin produces a euphoric high and carries a high potential for abuse. Heroin makes users feel at ease. The addictive substance can briefly eliminate physical and emotional pain. Heroin is also cheap and easily available, making heroin addiction easier to feed. Withdrawal symptoms from heroin addiction can be devastating. This prevents many users from trying to quit and it makes relapse more likely.
4. Prescription Opioids
Prescription opioids are painkillers that people use to ease the symptoms of various medical conditions. Doctors may prescribe opioids for certain injuries or chronic pain. The issue occurs when patients continue to use opioids when they are no longer medically necessary. Common prescription opioids include codeine, fentanyl, methadone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), and oxycodone (OxyContin). Opioid painkillers affect the opioid receptors in the brain, just like heroin. They provide pain relief and trigger a significant release of dopamine. Prescription drugs also change the brain’s reward system, encouraging users to seek out the drug again.
If you suffer from a mental health condition like anxiety, a doctor may prescribe a benzodiazepine, or benzo. This type of drug helps ease feelings of worry, tension, and nervousness. Benzodiazepines can also produce a euphoric high and a feeling of relaxation. Benzodiazepines include prescription drugs like Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. People can become addicted to these drugs as they are easily available and commonly prescribed.
Nicotine is legal and freely available for adults to purchase. As a stimulant, nicotine leads to the release of dopamine in the brain. For this reason, nicotine encourages us to repeat the same behavior (e.g. smoking cigarettes) even when we understand its detrimental results on the body. Nicotine is also addictive because smoking is a common daily habit. To put this in perspective, if you take 10 hits from each cigarette and smoke 20 cigarettes a week, you take 200 hits of nicotine after just seven days. Repeated use reinforces the addiction in a short period of time.
The legal status of alcohol increases its risk for abuse, as does the fact that it’s socially acceptable to drink. Unlike the other drugs we have touched upon, alcohol is a depressant. This means it dampens activity in the central nervous system. As a depressant, alcohol can make us feel more relaxed, disinhibited, carefree, and joyful. It also produces positive feelings and mild euphoria. Moreover, alcohol has the potential for addiction because it can make us feel confident and anxiety-free in social situations. Drinking also helps to numb our emotional pain and forget about our problems. Users can develop a psychological addiction to alcohol. Over time, this psychological addiction can turn into a physical addiction. When you are physically addicted to alcohol, giving up drinking results in serious withdrawal symptoms. The world’s most addictive drugs include both legal and illegal substances. If you find yourself abusing any of these drugs, it’s important to get the appropriate help. Treatment options for these drugs include:
- Outpatient rehab
- Inpatient rehab
- 12-step programs
- Support groups
If you get support as early as possible, you can prevent your addiction from spiraling out of control. Treatment will allow you to gain control over your addiction, stay sober, and lead a happy life, free from substance abuse. Washburn House is an all-inclusive treatment center that supports each individual through every stage of detox and recovery. Contact a caring specialist today to begin your journey to an addiction-free life.