Addiction of any kind is likely to wreak havoc on an individual’s life, but there are various substances that have qualities that make them especially hard to beat.
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.
4. Barbiturates (“downers”)
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, but at higher doses it can result in overdose due to suppressed breathing.
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 percent of people who try cocaine will become addicted at some point in their lifetime.
Addiction to beer, wine or liquor 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 percent. This legalized substance has a death rate of over 3 million per year.
Heroin takes the number one 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 one in four individuals who try heroin becoming addicted. What makes this drug particularly dangerous is that the dose that can cause death is only five times greater than the dose required for a high. Additionally, heroin has an extremely high risk of death from a relapse.