Last Updated on by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
Most people have heard the horror stories of persistent drug use and abuse. It may be a friend that got hooked on pain pills for life. Or maybe a sibling that developed a crippling crack addiction.
And while the effects of any substance addiction can be absolutely disastrous, if you’re like most people you’ve probably wondered, “what is the most addictive drug on the street today?”
Answering this question might be harder than you think though. There are often a number of factors involved: genetic predisposition, social and environmental influences, variations among the type of drug itself, etc.
However, in an effort to answer this question once and for all, researchers have come up with a dependency rating to give an indication of the addictive potential of some of the most common drugs available today.
What Are the Most Addictive Drugs? Here Are the Top 4 Contenders
While it may be difficult to find an entirely objective method of measuring the true addictive potential of a substance, there are a number of drugs available that stand out as being both highly addictive and exceptionally dangerous.
We’ve put together a list of the top four of these substances based on these factors. Each is also accompanied by a dependence rating (on a scale of 0 to 3) as featured in The Fix that was developed by Professor David Nutt’s studies at London’s Imperial College as well as a Dutch reproduction of the study.
1. Heroin and Other Opioids
Largely considered the most destructive and addictive drug, heroin comes in as number one with a Dependence Rating of 2.89. However, it’s worth noting that Nutt’s study was conducted before the meteoric rise in opioid dependency driven largely by prescription opioid painkillers.
As such, with 91 deaths a day being attributed solely to opioid overdoses, the addictive potential and overall severity of this class of drugs makes opioids undoubtedly the top ultra-addictive drug on this list.
2. Cocaine/Crack Cocaine
Nutt’s study found cocaine to be the second most addictive drug with a Dependence Rating of 2.39. However, as Mental Health Daily notes, a newer Dutch study seeking to reproduce the results found that crack cocaine, in particular, had a Dependence Rating of 2.82.
And given that crack use, in particular, tends to attach itself to emotional connections (termed Euphoric Recall), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that getting clean from this drug is incredibly difficult. However, with the right knowledge and expertise, kicking the habit is in fact possible.
Responsible for more than 480,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone, nicotine comes in at a close third with a Dependence Rating of 2.21 in Nutt’s study and 2.82 in the new Dutch reproduction. And despite the legality of this drug, it is undoubtedly both highly addictive and exceptionally dangerous.
Luckily though, people are beginning to catch on to just how deadly nicotine products can be and tobacco consumption is declining worldwide.
While this class of drug had a Dependence Rating of 1.83 (which turned out to be lower than other drugs like methadone, crystal meth, barbiturates, and alcohol), we thought it important to point out that the real addictive potential behind this benzodiazepines lies in the fact that they’re often cited as have the most unbearable withdrawals of any other substance.
In fact, according to survey results from online addiction forum Bluelight, users overwhelmingly crowned benzos as the worst drug to have withdrawals from, beating out even heroin and crystal meth.
4 Drugs You Need to Avoid
While there is still much research that still needs to be done on developing an infallible scale of addiction potential for drugs today, this quick list helps highlight four substances of abuse that have especially high risks of dependency.
If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these drugs, in particular, it’s critical that you get professional help today so you can live sober tomorrow.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.