Drugs: They’re Not Created Equal
The recreational use of any drugs or other intoxicants comes with the risk of addiction. By nature, these substances provide some sort of pleasurable effect to the user, typically referred to as a “high,” which creates a desire for additional consumption of the substance that becomes stronger and more pronounced with the passage of time. The result of continued abuse of intoxicants is, of course, to suffer from the chronic disease that we know as addiction.
Despite the acceptance that alcohol and all drugs have a certain risk of dependence, it’s been found that the risk of dependence is stronger when an individual abuses certain substances over others. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) uses what’s called the Severity of Dependence Scale (SDS) to rate how addictive a drug is relative to other intoxicating and addictive substances, most often used to indicate the danger of opioids. Rated on a four-point scale from zero, which indicates zero risks of addiction, to three, indicating the highest possible risk of addiction, a drug’s dependence rating is obtained by qualifying the substance according to five traits, then averaging those five scores for a representative figure.
There are immense risk and danger inherent in the abuse of any intoxicant, but some are even more dangerous than others. In reverse order, these are the top five more addictive drugs that are also considered the most addictive drugs.
5. Crystal Meth, or Methamphetamine
With a dependence rating of 2.24 out of 3.00, crystal meth is notorious for being one of the most addictive drugs and for being incredibly difficult to quit. Crystal meth is a stimulant drug that acts on the central nervous system of the body, activating a marked increase in the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain while simultaneously and permanently destroying the dopamine and norepinephrine receptors in the brain; this is what causes users of crystal meth to go on binges that can last days or even weeks at a time and continually need more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects.
It’s estimated that there are currently half a million individuals who use crystal meth regularly in the United States alone. Due to its powerful effects and the damage crystal meth causes the brain, users entering treatment frequently require a rather lengthy period of medically-supervised detox and stabilization before they can begin actual addiction treatment. Crystal meth is one of the most addictive drugs as well as dangerous drugs.
The most common use of methadone is in replacement treatment therapies for recovering opiate addicts who receive daily doses of the substance and local methadone clinics. Rather than abruptly quitting opiates “cold turkey” and experiencing what can be intense discomfort in opiate withdrawal, some individuals will prefer to use methadone as a stepping stone in the recovery process as it prevents the discomfort of opiate withdrawal without the “high” that opiates like heroin are known to provide. Although methadone does provide a mild euphoria at first, individuals become immune to the intoxicating effects of methadone with continued use, which is why it’s preferred for replacement treatment.
However, despite being an effective substance for replacement treatment for opiate addicts, methadone is known to be one of the most addictive drugs. With a dependence rating of 2.68, it’s estimated that about 120,000 Americans currently take methadone for treatment of heroin addiction with about 20 percent of those individuals abusing the drug. There are a number of facilities nationwide that specialize in treating addiction to methadone specifically.
In a survey conducted by the National Institute on Health, there are roughly 50 million smokers in the United States with at least one in every five American deaths being attributed to smoking. The dependence rating of nicotine is a whopping 2.82, which makes it nearly as addictive as heroin. However, despite being one of the most addictive drugs, it’s become more trendy to either not smoke or to quit smoking, which has caused a slow yet steady decrease in these figures.
2. Crack Cocaine
Interestingly, crack cocaine, or just “crack: for short, has a dependence rating of 2.82, which is noticeably higher than the substance from which it’s made—the dependence rating of cocaine is 2.13. However, this makes more sense when you recognize that crack cocaine is the processed, concentrated, crystallized—rather than powdered—form of cocaine that is most commonly smoked by individuals who quickly become dependent on the intense high and its extremely rapid onset. As rapid as the euphoria comes, it will shortly leave the user feeling depressed and having very intense cravings, which is why crack cocaine is considered the second most difficult drug to quit.
Considered the most addictive and difficult-to-quit drug there is, heroin has the highest dependence rating at 2.89 and is so severely addictive due to its affecting essentially every part of the body. Heroin is a narcotic opiate that stimulates a surge in the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good hormone. With a high-fat solubility, the intake of heroin—most commonly insufflated (snorted) or injected—is followed by the relatively quick onset of the euphoria and pursuant high.
Additionally, heroin is molecularly similar to morphine as well as in its effects but considerably more powerful and faster acting. With prolonged use, heroin users experience a dramatic increase in tolerance and will experience notoriously uncomfortable withdrawal when usage is ceased, which is why it’s recommended that heroin addicts enter a treatment program to detox under supervision. It’s estimated that there are almost 700,000 heroin users in the United States alone. Additionally, it’s been estimated that roughly one in every four individuals who try heroin will become addicted to it, which is an astounding figure.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious matter, no matter the substance to which an individual is addicted. Whether an addict’s drug of choice has a dependence rating of 2.89 like heroin or 2.24 like crystal meth, overcoming addiction and sustaining recovery is possible. Contact Drug Treatment Center Finder today so that one of our specialists can match you or your loved one to the treatment facility that will best treat your addiction.