For centuries, addiction has been considered nothing short of a choice. People have continuously viewed those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol as people who have chosen substance abuse over all else in their lives, including their families, careers, and financial stability. Thankfully, extensive research has been done and studies conducted to prove that addiction is not a choice by any means, rather a disease with genetic and environmental causations. However, some drugs are more addictive than others. Before we can understand the most addictive drug, let’s look at why addiction develops in the first place.
First, consider the definition of disease:
“A disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not the direct result of an injury.”
Making a choice is not a disease, however, addiction is. When someone abuses mind-altering substances like opioids, cocaine, or meth, the structure and the function of the brain begins to change in ways that keep the user continually craving more.
The toxicity of drugs plus the brain’s repeated exposure to them is what causes structural and functional changes. As different areas of the brain become altered, a user will start to show the classic signs of the disease of addiction, some of which include:
- Using drugs in dangerous situations
- Continuing to abuse drugs despite suffering consequences of use
- Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, and/or in school
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms when unable to use
- Inability to control how much is being used
Because of these changes, someone struggling with the disease of addiction may also exhibit the following symptoms:
- Poor decision-making skills
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory loss
- Cognition problems
Thankfully, addiction is a treatable disease, and with the right care and abstaining from use, people can regain proper functioning in the damaged areas of their brains. While much of the destruction done to the brain can be reversed or improved, some of the damage can be irreversible. At the same time, some drugs are more addictive than others. Let’s take a look at some of the most addictive drugs out there.
What are the Most Addictive Drugs?
Meth is a stimulant drug that has a pseudoephedrine base and contains several deadly substances, including battery fluid, paint thinner, acetone, drain cleaner, and antifreeze. This drug is arguably the most addictive drug in the world for several reasons.
Meth produces a high that gives people a massive boost in energy and a rush of euphoria. This effect in itself is often enough to keep meth users coming back for more. Unfortunately, however, because of the toxic chemicals in this drug, areas of the brain and the body quickly erode. Many meth addicts (both using and recovering) experience problems such as osteoporosis, dental problems, and mental illness, all of which usually develop in response to use. The severe damage that meth does to the brain is why it is often referred to as the most addictive drug.
Meth addiction influences the function of the dopamine receptors in the brain, which play a role in producing a sense of reward and satisfaction. When meth is consumed regularly, the naturally occurring response that triggers the flow of dopamine does not need to occur because meth produces feelings of satisfaction and reward instead. So, when meth is no longer being used, the dopamine receptors in the brain struggle to function, causing pervasive feelings of sadness, depression, and hopelessness.
What results is that people find themselves struggling with depression and anxiety. These feelings may be so overwhelming to the point where they feel their only option is to keep using to make it all stop. The cycle of meth addiction then continues repetitively for an unforeseen amount of time as the user struggles to find ways to successfully stop. Even those meth addicts who do stop and get help struggle to push through their withdrawal symptoms, many of which last for months to years at a time. This particular challenge has people going back and forth between sobriety and meth abuse in a cycle that could potentially have a deadly outcome.
The second most addictive drug is heroin. Heroin abuse in the United States has spiked significantly in the wake of the prescription opioid epidemic, which was first formally recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2011. As people became more deeply addicted to prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin, they turned to heroin – a cheaper and more potent alternative.
While heroin is sometimes snorted or smoked, it is most often consumed via injection. This means that the drug goes directly into the bloodstream and produces the strongest high in the shortest amount of time. Attempting to get sober from a drug that has been coursing through one’s veins is extremely difficult due to two reasons:
- 1. The method of transmission
- 2. Its effect on the functioning of the mind and body
There are opioid receptors in the brain that are naturally occurring and work to help control physical pain. However, when heroin abuse occurs, it stands in the way of the brain’s natural function and starts serving as opioid receptors themselves. Attempting to stop using heroin can leave a person struggling with serious physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Like meth, this can lead to continued use of heroin all in effort to avoid such effects.
The next most addictive drug is alcohol. Alcohol is so widely accepted throughout the United States that the very thought of not being able to drink at all can be enough to keep someone coming back for more. The intense peer pressure that one may feel to continue drinking is one of the main environmental factors why this substance is so addictive. However, the biological and psychological factors that one encounters when addicted to alcohol may keep them drinking without any sign of stopping.
Alcohol addiction may lead to brain damage that includes damage to cells and tissue, as well as depletion of neurotransmitter functions. When neurotransmitters are not sending the appropriate messages to the appropriate areas of the brain, issues such as poor decision-making skills, inability to concentrate, and impulsivity can occur regularly, adding to one’s likelihood of continuing to use. On top of that, the withdrawal symptoms that stem from stopping alcohol use are notoriously painful and distressing – some of them are even life-threatening All of these factors combined might keep someone drinking for longer periods of time than expected because of how dependent their minds and bodies become on alcohol.
Do You Need Help Putting a Stop to Your Active Addiction? Call Us Right Now.
If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and just can’t stop, we’re here to help. We understand the immense challenge that it is to break the cycle of addiction, but we can guide you through it. Do not hesitate to reach out to us. Call us today to get started on your road to recovery.