1 of 12
Click ‘Next’ to View Gallery
In 2013, for the first time ever, more Americans overdosed (both accidentally and intentionally) on prescription drugs than on any other potentially addictive chemical substance – combined. This once overlooked epidemic has only increased over the last 3 years, but at least has lead to greater awareness about addictive drugs and their dangers. While this scourge continues, Americans are now learning more about the devastating effects of all addictive substances, both legal and outlawed. Here is some of what we’ve learned so far about the most addictive drugs on Earth.
Nicotine is often instantly addictive, particularly for teenagers, who may see it as being “cool” to take up. Fortunately, younger generations seem to be benefitting from the increasingly negative message directed against cigarette smoking and, it’s hoped (in the US at least) nicotine addiction will eventually be completely eradicated.
Gamma hydroxybutyrate, also known as “Liquid X” (for Liquid Ecstasy) is what’s called a “Date Rape” or “Rave” drug because it’s often consumed (intentionally or not) in nightclubs or at “Rave” parties – particularly popular social settings for the younger generations. Rather than causing a manic high, or a stupefying low, GHB drugs often induce a relaxed, almost calming effect, making it psychologically, as well as physically, addictive. Unfortunately, higher doses can lead to unconsciousness and, tragically, death by overdose – accidental or otherwise.
Amphetamines are a class of drugs which are often the first step in the ladder of lifetime addiction, because they are the main ingredient in brand names like Adderall, Ritalin and over-the counter, legal drugs used to combat fatigue, or as a dietary suppressant. Prescribed at younger ages, Amphetamine addiction can last for years and take just as long to withdraw from, causing mood swings long after they are kicked. Their dangers are only beginning to be understood, as an entire generation of children, shamelessly diagnosed with possibly bogus disorders like ADHD, find themselves hopelessly (and possibly needlessly) reliant upon their usage as adults.
Methadone rose in popularity and usage in the 1970s as an antidote to heroin and opioid addiction and is basically “legal” so long as it’s prescribed and its use controlled. The irony? Methadone can be just as addictive as whatever illegal drug it’s meant to combat.
Also known as “Bennies” or “Benzo”, Benzodiazepines have been abused for decades and were once viewed as highly beneficial by either unaware or negligent “health care” professionals prescribing them like gumdrops in a candy store. Unfortunately, older generations of addicted users are finding that withdrawal symptoms are among the worst, often leading to psychotic behavior, even suicidal thoughts and tendencies. By far, this class of addictive drug has caused the most overdoses, accidental as well as intentional, since their explosive rise in popularity in the post World War II period and beyond.
Methamphetamine, also known as “Meth” is causing a scourge in our society that is estimated to have swept over nearly half the population. Its use is particularly destructive biologically and addicts can often be identified by a rapid physical deterioration. Its use has also been blamed for a spike in violent crime (especially armed robbery) among otherwise usually law abiding citizens.
The rise in crime across the US has also been blamed on the “Crack” form of cocaine, the cost of which is often lowered by mixing more expensive powdered cocaine with cheaper substances like baking soda. Unfortunately, the decreased potency only lasts for minutes (as opposed to a few hours in its more concentrated, powdered form) leading to a more urgent need for a ”quick fix” in addicts.
Powdered cocaine was once a popular (and legal) drug which was added to medications and even soft drinks (ever heard of Coca Cola?) providing a “kick” which was tragically misunderstood – and abused. Controlled since the 1920s, powdered cocaine has nonetheless become the “high” of choice for drug addicts, and is the most abused drug around the world. Its popularity has lead to the explosive growth of entire illegal industries, run like corporations (called Cartels) which have lead to a rise in the worst kind of criminal activity, including gang warfare and mass murder.
Heroin is the most biologically addictive substance known, with more than 1-in-4 first time users becoming instantly hooked. While it can be ingested internally, heroin is usually injected straight into the bloodstream by needle. Addicted users can often function at a very high level, but never for a lifetime. Eventually, heroin is a health destroyer and is the second-most dangerous drug addicted users overdose on, usually by accident, due to being unaware of its lethal potency.
Alcohol is the most pervasive addictive drug known to society, and has been for centuries. While an estimated 40% of drinkers say they imbibe socially and can quit at any time, binge drinking presents the greatest danger to the health of those who choose to partake. Alcohol is also the cheapest drug to buy and, of course, it’s legal in most localities in America. Often called the “entryway” to addiction, alcohol is often the first mind altering substance most addicts experience, and, even if all other drug habits are kicked, it’s by far the hardest to avoid in open social settings. And, tragically, acute, long-term alcoholism can lead to many otherwise avoidable health problems later on in life, particularly liver failure and congestive heart disease.