Have you ever wondered what the most addictive drugs in the world are? In fact, this is one of the most common questions from people who are educating themselves about addictions, but also addicts and their loved ones too.
There are several factors to consider when it comes to the actual development of an addiction. Things like environmental or social situations, mental health disorders and past traumas; however, there are drugs that can be more addicting purely because of their effects and chemical makeup. It is these that can debilitate a person’s life in a matter of months and one’s which has addiction professionals so concerned.
The following most addicting drugs in the world are based upon a study carried out in the Netherlands in 2010. Overseen by Professor David Nutt, who is also chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drug, this study examined a wealth of the most common drugs and then ranked them from 0-3 based on a dependency scale; three being the most addictive and zero being the least. This scale was then calibrated to determine the addictive potential. Here is a brief summary of their findings.
Heroin Addictive Potency - 2.89
Heroin abuse goes way back. It’s a drug of legends and myths and one of the first which comes to mind when you mention “drug” or “addiction” to many people. Heroin masks the feelings of pain while releasing huge amounts of the feel good chemicals in the brain. It carries a rapid ability to develop a tolerance and some of the most intense withdrawal symptoms out of any drug. With a staggering 9.2 million heroin users in the world, this is considered to be the most addictive drug.
Crack Cocaine Addictive Potency - 2.82
Although crack cocaine is similar to cocaine, its chemical structure becomes altered in the process of making the drug. In addition, smoking it allows the drug to cross the blood brain barrier more quickly than snorting it. The yellowish-white crystal rocks produce an intense high which is short lived, lasting for 5 to 10 minutes. Crack cocaine causes excessive amounts of dopamine leading to extreme euphoria. Most users continuously smoke crack to retain the effects and high of the drug. This leads to a fast tolerance and rapid addiction. In fact, many users state they became addicted after the first time of using.
Nicotine Addictive Potency - 2.82
Nicotine is found in tobacco products. It’s legal and available in just about all populated parts of the globe. Even so, the addictive potential of nicotine is astoundingly high. According to the NIDA, around 35 million smokers try quitting every year; 85% relapse. The drug affects the release of dopamine, the same chemical affected by cocaine. It also reduces the number of natural nicotinic receptors in the brain resulting in the addict to keep using nicotine to allow the brain to function normally.
Street Methadone Addictive Potency - 2.68
Methadone is an opiate which is most commonly prescribed to treat addictions to heroin. In this way, it can be incredibly beneficial and allow a person to come off of harder opiates. Under monitored guidance and in a clinical setting a methadone addiction is less than 1%. However, when it is obtained on the street and recreationally abused, a methadone addiction can occur. The effects are similar to other opiates; however, the withdrawal can last for more than a month.
Methamphetamine Addictive Potency - 2.24
Methamphetamine has been abused since World War II. It faded out for a short while, but became more popular than ever; first in the U.S., then Australia, Asia and Europe. Now, methamphetamine addictions are considered to be epidemic on a global level. The drug mocks dopamine and norepinephrine; two chemicals which allow a person to feel good. A meth addiction develops very rapidly requiring the user to need more and more of the drug to feel the same effects. Within a short time, a meth addict can encounter health issues which if left untreated, can be very serious.
Alcohol Addictive Potency - 2.13
Alcohol is one of the most accepted legal drugs in society. It’s used to engage in conversation and fulfils boredom. The drug releases dopamine and endorphins which alleviate pain and increase the euphoric effects. Addiction can produce immense mental and physical ramifications, but most of the concern from doctors is due to the withdrawal from alcohol. This can be very severe and can lead to seizures and death. It is this core reason why an alcohol rehab should always be sought to overcome this powerful addiction.
Things to Consider
It’s important to note that just because heroin is considered to be the most addictive drug does not mean everyone who uses or abuses it will become an addict. Likewise, a person with an addiction to crack may not have a very challenging withdrawal or could find it easier to come off of alcohol than nicotine. With any addiction, there are always individual factors to take into consideration. That said, based upon research and objective measures of addiction, heroin is the most powerful, most addictive drug in terms of psychological and physical dependency.