addictive drugs

What Are the Top 10 Most Addictive Drugs

Addiction can be defined as the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors. Classic hallmarks of drug addiction include impaired control over substances or behavior, preoccupation with substance or behavior, continued use despite consequences, and denial.

When you think of full blown drug addiction, what comes to mind?

Is it the heroin addict sitting in a dark room tying off a vein? Maybe it’s the shaking alcoholic emptying the remainder of last night’s bottle into her morning coffee to calm the withdrawal symptoms that threaten to take over unless they are satisfied. Whether your mental images come from the media or from direct contact with addicted friends, family members, or yourself, it’s important to know the truth about addictive drugs.

According to SAMHSA‘s most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), almost 30 million Americans, over 10% percent of the U.S. population currently use illicit drugs for non-medical purposes.

None of us will fully know what drives the thinking of individuals before they ever take drugs for the first time. Some evidence points to a predisposition toward drug addiction as part of the genetic makeup of certain people, while others disagree. We do know that over 70% of individuals who struggle with drug addiction have experienced childhood trauma. Addiction has also been defined as a spiritual malady. Regardless of the starting point, using drugs recreationally is always a bad idea. Each one has the power to ravage your life and place you in an early grave. Our remedy and suggestion is always abstinence, but you have to make that decision for yourself.

Top 10 Most Addictive Drugs

Crack Cocaine

The Addiction – Powder cocaine may have a similar chemical makeup to crack cocaine, but smoking crack is a much faster rush, and unfortunately for those who use it, the high is extremely short-lived (about 10 minutes). The intensity of the high is what draws in users, plus the ease of use (smoking). It is considered one of the most addictive drugs.



The Addiction – As an opiate which directly affects opioid receptors by mimicking endorphins, heroin takes hold of it’s victims from the first moment. Highly fat soluble in nature, it reaches your brain within seconds, immediately resulting in zero pain and euphoric pleasure. Areas of the brain involved in reward processing and learning are stocked with tons of these opioid receptors, so when the drug is injected, the brain is immediately being trained to crave it. The fatal side effects of heroin use (which has nothing to do with the dangerous withdrawal symptoms) include shortness of breath, seizures, and cycles when the whole brain stops functioning, leading to sudden death.

According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, over 20 percent of people who try heroin become addicted.


The Addiction – Alcohol is even more accepted than smoking cigarettes. It is legal and seen by many as a social lubricant. People who are gathered together are almost expected to ‘loosen up a bit’ by having a few drinks. Unfortunately for addicts, the simplicity of the drug along with the acceptance by society makes it’s stronghold quite fierce. Once a person becomes a full blown alcoholic, or addict, withdrawals are so severe that they can cause death. Cravings for a return to the drug are intense. How many are addicted? 32 million Americans, nearly one in seven adults, have struggled with a serious alcohol problem in the last year alone.


The Addiction – Although nicotine may not be considered in the mix of illicit drugs, the fact that it is highly addictive makes it eligible for the list. Nicotine actually works in much the same way as other drugs, —it mimics a common neurotransmitter. Actually it does this so well that scientists have named the acetylcholine receptor after the drug. Smoking nicotine filled cigarettes reduces the body’s natural sensitivity to the nicotine receptors and requires higher and higher of doses of the drug just to maintain normal brain function. Wow. Sounds crazy when you put it that way.


The Addiction – Used often to treat heroin addiction, many look at methadone as a good thing, and in a clinical setting, maybe it is. When a person is being treated for heroin, the biggest fear is withdrawal symptoms. Methadone keeps these symptoms at bay. Unfortunately, it is also highly addictive.

Many individuals struggling with opiate addiction use methadone to keep them from experiencing withdrawal, but still continue to use heroin or other opiates.

Crystal Meth

The Addiction – Working, once again, on the same principle as heroin, crystal meth mimics natural neurotransmitters and conditions your brain to crave the drug. But, it goes one step further, which makes it even more dangerous. Meth imitates dopamine and norepinephrine, the reward chemical and the alertness chemical. The end result? Feelings of confidence and euphoria while being extremely alert and aware (as opposed to the nodding off and sleepiness of heroin).

Meth damages the body’s neurons which are responsible for the release of both of these chemicals, which causes a highly frustrating situation. The body becomes deprived of even the natural state it once enjoyed, and now the cravings are magnified even more.

Powder Cocaine

The Addiction – According to medical studies, cocaine use reduces the total number of dopamine receptors in the brain’s reward center. This, of course, is a recipe for addiction. Once there are fewer receptors, the user will crave the drug even more when you try to stop. Cocaine doesn’t destroy dopamine neurons, so the power of the addiction is slightly less than meth, but it has other qualities, such as ease of use, short-lived high (45 minutes) and quick tolerance build up are what put this drug in the top ten category.


The Addiction – A potent central nervous stimulant, amphetamines are a category of drugs widely used and accepted. They are prescribed mainly for attention deficit disorder (ADD) and obesity. All amphetamines, whether prescribed or illicit, act on the reward center, which means rapid tolerance buildup marked by an intense craving for more if used regularly. Amphetamines include:

  • Adderall
  • Dexacaps
  • Dexedrine
  • ProCentra
  • Vyvanse

Those trying to quit may experience severe anxiety, depression and lethargy.


The Addiction: Widely prescribed for anxiety, Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin are the most common examples of benzodiazepines (or benzos). Working to increase the effectiveness of GABA, a chemical found in the brain, this drug reduces excitability, irritability, and anxiousness. Dulling the senses, benzos give a false sense of ‘being able to deal’ with stressful situations, when in fact, the drug is working behind the scene, building up tolerance and causing an addiction. Users trying to quit experience high levels of irritability, panic attacks and anxiety.

Opioid Drugs

The Addiction – Drugs like Hydrocodone (Lortab, Lorcet, Vicodin), Oxycodone (Oxycontin) and Fentanyl are classified as opioid drugs and are highly addictive.

Many users become addicted to the drug through prescriptions, find themselves unable to quit and then are too embarrassed to come forward to their prescribing physician. Many struggle alone until they’ve exhausted all resources, including switching from doctor to doctor to continue receiving prescriptions, forging prescriptions, turning to “dirty doctors” and stealing the drugs from friends and relatives who have a prescription.

Addiction comes packaged in so many ways. Some individuals go in with eyes wide open, fully aware they are making an unhealthy choice, while others realize after it’s too late that their nightly drink has gone from a beer to a bottle of vodka in a matter of months.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you don’t have to remain alone. Isolation is your enemy. Call Gracious Care Recovery Solutions today.

(855) 854-7223


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