Over the years, there has been much debate among researchers regarding which substances should be classified as the “most addictive.” An addiction is marked by compulsive substance-seeking behavior, a growing tolerance to the drug or alcohol and the presence of withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 22.7 million Americans (8.6%) have an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
With such a significant percent of the population having an addiction, it’s important to take a deeper look into which substances are particularly difficult to overcome a dependence on.
Measuring Addictiveness Of Various Substances
Due to the lack of a definitive ranking system for drug dependency,British drug and addiction psychiatrist David Nutt and his team of researchers set out to produce a conclusive list of the most addictive substances on the planet. Utilizing a panel of addiction experts, Nutt’s team created a list of the 5 substances with the highest potential to become habit-forming.
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Nicotine, the highly addictive substance found in tobacco products, is the most common addiction in America. More than two-thirds of Americans who tried cigarettes or chewing tobacco report being dependent at some point during their lifetime.
These substances are typically used to treat anxiety and induce sleep. Popular street names for Barbiturates include Blue Bullets, Gorillas, Nembies, Bars, and Pink Ladies. At low doses, these drugs can produce euphoria; at higher doses an overdose due to suppressed breathing can result.
An estimated 14-20 million people worldwide use Cocaine, resulting in a billion-dollar industry. Cocaine reacts with the brain’s level of dopamine, preventing neurons from turning the “feel good” signal off. This results in abnormal activation of the brain’s reward pathways. An estimated 21% of people who try Cocaine will become addicted at some point in their lifetime.
Addiction to beer, wine, orliquor can have a very negative effect on the body and mind that is often irreversible. Studies have shown that alcohol increases the level of dopamine in the brain’s reward system by as much as 360%. This legalized substance has a death rate of over 3 million per year.
Heroin takes the number 1 spot as the most addictive substance on the planet. On Nutt’s addiction scale, it ranked a 2.5 out of a maximum score of 3. This potent Opiate has an alarming rate of addiction, with 1 in 4 individuals who try Heroin becoming addicted. What makes this drug particularly dangerous is that the dose that can cause death is only 5 times greater than the dose required for a high. Additionally, Heroin has an extremely high risk of death from a relapse.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
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