The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part Two)

The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part Two) | Transcend Recovery Community

This article is the second in a two part series listing the top ten addictive drugs, counting backwards from 10 to the top most addictive drug. This list is based upon an article recently published by The Fix magazine.

The first article in this series listed the most addictive drugs, rated 10 through 5. The following completes the list with the top four addictive drugs.

  • Methadone (dependence rating = 2.68) – Methadone has been the standard form of sober living treatment for opioid addiction for over 30 years. It is legally only available from federally-regulated clinics for regular use in order to slowly wean an individual off the opiate addiction. When taken properly, medication-assisted treatment with methadone suppresses opioid withdrawal, blocks the effects of other problem opioids and reduces cravings. However, there is criticism against the use of methadone as a treatment drug because regular use of methadone essentially creates another addiction. Although someone might be taking the drug according to instruction, he or she can grow tolerant to the drug, which essentially indicates that an addiction has developed. Replacing one addiction for another, some argue, should not be a form of treatment.
  • Nicotine (dependence rating = 2.82) – Nicotine is found in the roots of certain plants known as the nightshade family of plants and is considered a stimulant. In small doses, nicotine is used in cigarettes and has a stimulating effect when smoked. However, in large doses nicotine can be harmful. Sadly, the nicotine content found in cigarettes has increased over time. One study found that American made cigarettes had an increase of nicotine of about 1.78 percent. Approximately 1000 people die from nicotine-related illnesses every day, including lung cancer. Another study found that those who smoke are more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who do not. Depression is associated with an increased risk for smoking, and research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed adults engage in as a way to self-medicate.
  • Crack Cocaine (dependence rating = 2.82) – Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant. It can be taken into the body in a variety of ways, including snorting, injecting, and smoking. However, when cocaine is converted into crack or free base cocaine and smoked or injected directly into the bloodstream, these methods deliver the drug faster to the brain and leads to a more intense high. Because of this, these methods also have more dangerous effects. Extended use of crack cocaine can lead to thickening of tissues in the heart, heart attacks, and heart failure. If used over a length of time, cocaine can lead to sores in the lungs, throat, and mouth, among other significant physical impairments. Of course, other dangers of cocaine use are criminal activity, such as stealing money to maintain an addiction. Over time, a cocaine addiction could even lead to long-term life of crime.
  • Heroin (dependence rating = 2.82) – Heroin is an opiod that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin can be injected or inhaled by snorting or sniffing or smoking it. Symptoms of using the drug include red or raw nostrils, needle marks or scars on arms, wearing long sleeves at inappropriate times, and medicinal breath. Physical evidence might include cough syrup, bottles, syringes, cotton swabs, and spoons for heating heroin. Long-term symptoms are loss of appetite, constipation, brain damage, and damage to the central nervous system. Heroin is a dangerous drug, not only for being incredibly addictive, but also the drug essentially rewires the brain suppressing all instincts and slowing down the nervous system. The drug can be hard to break, as many news reports, articles, and television programs are revealing. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users almost doubled. In 2007, for example, 337 thousand people were addicted to heroin in America and in 2012 that number jumped up to 669 thousand.

Of course, it should be noted that drugs, regardless of their addictive quality, can produce significant impairment in one’s life when an addiction develops. In fact, addictions can also develop to behaviors, such as gambling and shopping, which can also lead to great harm.  Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that the dependence rating included in this two part article series is one of many factors in the development of addiction.


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The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part One)

The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part One) | Transcend Recovery Community

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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