When you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs or even a behavior, such as gambling, putting an end to that addiction will always be challenging. Of course, the severity of the withdrawal experience will depend up on the severity of your addiction. However, another great factor in the strength of an addiction is the addictive quality of the drug.
Recently, addiction and treatment magazine The Fix created a top ten list of drugs that have the highest dependence rating. The following is a synopsis of that article, ending with the most difficult drug to quit using:
- GHB (dependence rating = 1.71) – Although frequently abused, this drug is actually used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder which causes frequent sleepiness and daytime sleep attacks. It is a depressant that has the positive effects of tranquility, increased sexual drive, and euphoria. Yet, its negative effects on users include nausea, sweating, hallucinations, amnesia; and it can even induce coma. GHB is also known as the “date rape” drug because of its sedative effects and the inability of a user to resist sexual assault.
- Benzodiazepines (dependence rating = 1.89) – Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin, are commonly prescribed for anxiety. Benzodiazepines have also been very effective in treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The risk with Benzodiazepines, however, is that they are highly addictive and have severe withdrawal symptoms. Yet, if a recovering addict can take Benzodiazepines as prescribed, they usually don’t experience the risk of addiction and instead, the medication greatly facilitates their alcohol detox process. However, if an addiction does develop, the withdrawal process from Benzodiazepines can be severe.
- Amphetamines (dependence rating = 1.95) – Amphetamines, such as Concerta and Adderall, activate the brain in areas that facilitate attention and focus, which is why they are frequently prescribed for ADHD. Although this drug is not as addictive as methamphetamine, the high of being so elated can also bring feelings of suspicion and paranoia. When taken outside of a doctor’s orders, amphetamines can pose significant risk concerns. The side effects for non-prescription use of stimulants include sleep problems, decreased appetite, delayed growth, headaches, and moodiness. Furthermore, when moodiness or depression sets in, the craving for amphetamines also increases.
- Cocaine (dependence rating = 2.13) – The intoxication of ingesting cocaine includes feeling very alert, excited, powerful, and happy. Some users of cocaine describe its euphoria as equivalent to orgasm. However, after awhile the high might produce anxious feelings, compulsive and repetitive behaviors, and seeing flashes of light or hallucinations. Cocaine releases chemicals in the brain that lead to higher blood pressure, a faster heartbeat, dilation of the pupils, chills, and muscular palpitations. With high doses, cocaine can cause a cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, or seizure. Cocaine is a controlled substance, and although it’s illegal, it continues to be used recreationally.
- Alcohol (dependence rating = 2.13) – Alcohol is a liquid that is colorless, flammable, and comes in various forms. The form that is most commonly known is ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the kind of alcohol used in beverages such as wine, beer, and liquor. It is produced through the fermentation of grains and fruits, which happens when yeast acts upon certain ingredients in food and creates alcohol. Beer and wine are drinks that are fermented and can contain anywhere from 2% to 20% alcohol. And other drinks that are distilled, such as liquor, can contain anywhere from 40% to 50% of alcohol. Of course, it’s well known that alcohol, when consumed, distorts perception and judgment and can affect an individual’s mood. It can also slow down one’s reaction time, making it dangerous to drink before getting behind the wheel.
- Crystal Meth (dependence rating = 2.24) – This drug is a very toxic and addictive substance that can cause severe damage to the brain and central nervous system. Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or ingested orally. The high that meth produces includes excited speech, decreased appetite, increased physical activity, and elevated levels of energy. Consequences of meth use include memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, and agitation. Meth can also cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain which can lead to strokes. These are only some of the severe health consequences associated with this drug.
It is known within the drug and alcohol field that some people are more prone to the disease of addiction than others. However, the addictive strength of particular drugs also plays a role. For the remaining top four most addictive drugs, look for the second part of this article series.
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