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What is the Most Addictive Drug? Top 10 Most Addictive Drugs, Cocaine, Heroin, Alcohol & More

What is the most addictive drug?

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSUDH) estimated that more than 21 million Americans (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014. Substance abuse and addiction cost American society upwards of $600 billion every year in healthcare expenses, criminal justice, and legal costs, and lost workplace production, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) publishes.

Drug addiction is considered a disease that impacts brain circuitry and behavior, and it is classified by an inability to control drug use. Addictive drugs act on the pleasure center in the brain, causing a shortcut to reward that, when repeated, can change the way a person processes information. Drugs’ addictive qualities may be enhanced by how good they make a person feel when using them and how bad they may make users feel when they wear off. Chronic drug abuse can induce drug dependency, which leads to withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings without the drug’s presence.

What is the most addictive drug? Cocaine

Normally when we think of drug abuse, the immediate thing that comes to mind is when someone takes drugs every day, several times. But with cocaine addiction, signs can be ambiguous. You do not have to be taking cocaine, or crack cocaine, every day to be addicted to it. A sign of addiction is that you’ve tried to cut down or stop but are unable to. Any use of cocaine is considered abuse because it is an illegal substance.

Even when cocaine is a highly addictive drug, one of its main issues is that it may be hard to recognize its addiction. For example, craving cocaine, even if the use or need appears every few days, and ignoring the consequences that come with it are signs of an addiction. 

Psychological addiction is often the hardest part to overcome, although there are undeniable physical symptoms of addiction. Someone who uses cocaine frequently will depend on it, meaning they need to have it to feel normal.

Once dependence has developed, a tolerance will develop and withdrawal symptoms will occur when stopping use. Once someone becomes addicted to cocaine, it can be very hard to stop. This is because cocaine abnormally increases the level of dopamine in the brain, eventually reprogramming the brain reward system.

Cocaine is a stimulant, meaning it increases alertness and energy. It affects the neural pathways in your brain, leading you to feel talkative, energetic, and euphoric. Cocaine addiction can develop quickly, even after trying it only a few times. An addiction can be physical, meaning your body craves the drug. It can also be mental, meaning you strongly desire the drug’s effects. Moreover, Cocaine can be consumed in a variety of ways.

what is the most addictive drug
What is the most addictive drug? You do not have to be taking cocaine, or crack cocaine, every day to be addicted to it. A sign of addiction is that you’ve tried to cut down or stop but are unable to.

What is the most addictive drug? Heroin

Heroin is a drug that reaches the brain very fast once it’s consumed, for this reason, it is very easy for a person to develop Heroin Addiction even from one or a few uses. Before we get to the main topic, let’s learn about what heroin is. According to the scientific piece ‘Heroin’, published by The National Library of Medicine, “Heroin is a white or brown powder or a black, sticky goo. It’s an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance in the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant.

It can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. Heroin can also be smoked or snorted up the nose. All of these ways of taking heroin send it to the brain very quickly. This makes it very addictive.

Regular use of heroin can lead to tolerance. This means users need more and more drugs to have the same effect. At higher doses over time, the body becomes dependent on heroin. If dependent users stop heroin, they have withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and cold flashes with goosebumps”.

What is the most addictive drug? Alcohol

Alcohol is the most regularly used addictive substance in America, with 1 out of every 12 adults suffering from an alcohol abuse or dependency issue, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports.

Legal for those of drinking age (aged 21 and older), part of many social activities and situations, and relatively inexpensive and easy to find, alcohol is used responsibly by millions of people; however, it’s possible for abuse is potent.

Alcohol acts on dopamine levels to enhance mood, like other drugs, but it also serves as a central nervous system depressant, slowing down nerve firings and the functions of the central nervous system. This results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. It also promotes sedation and impairs motor skills and cognition. When people are under the influence of alcohol, they are likely to engage in risky behaviors as inhibitions are lowered. They may also be more talkative and sociable and may experience mood swings and impaired decision-making and impulse-control abilities.

Alcohol abuse, especially when alcohol is consumed in heavy or binge drinking patterns, can lead to a dependency on the substance. When alcohol begins to leave the body, withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. When the effects of alcohol wear off, the brain may try to restore a chemical balance, causing a kind of rebound of some of the nerve firings that were suppressed by the alcohol.

Anxiety, depression, insomnia, tremors, sweating, irregular heart rate, hypertension, nausea and vomiting, headaches, abdominal pain, and even psychosis and seizures are potential alcohol withdrawal symptoms. A desire to keep these symptoms to a minimum may lead to using alcohol as a form of self-medication for alcohol withdrawal and can therefore perpetuate alcohol addiction.

what is the most addictive drug
What is the most addictive drug? Alcohol abuse, especially when alcohol is consumed in heavy or binge drinking patterns, can lead to a dependency on the substance.

What is the most addictive drug? Nicotine

Nicotine addiction is the most common addiction in America. There are approximately 50 million people in America who are addicted to some type of tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, and now vapes. According to the piece ‘Nicotine Addiction And Abuse’, published by, conservative estimates put societal costs (including healthcare expenses and lost productivity) of Nicotine addiction in the US at approximately $193 billion a year.

On the authority of the scientific piece ‘Nicotine Addiction’, Neal L. Benowitz, published by the US. National Library of Medicine, “cigarette smoking remains a leading cause of preventable disease and premature death in the United States and other countries. On average, 435,000 people in the United States die prematurely from smoking-related diseases each year; overall, smoking causes 1 in 5 deaths. The chance that a lifelong smoker will die prematurely from a complication of smoking is approximately 50%”.

Tobacco use is a major cause of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and pulmonary disease. Cigarette smoking is also a risk factor for respiratory tract and other infections, osteoporosis, reproductive disorders, adverse postoperative events and delayed wound healing, duodenal and gastric ulcers, and diabetes. Stopping smoking, no matter how long you have smoked, can greatly benefit your health.

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical found in the tobacco plant. The addiction is physical, meaning habitual users come to crave the chemical, and also mental, meaning users consciously desire nicotine’s effects. Nicotine addiction is also behavioral. People become dependent on the actions involved with using tobacco. They also become accustomed to using tobacco in certain situations, such as after meals or when under stress.

Nicotine is primarily consumed by inhaling the smoke of tobacco cigarettes. Other ways to smoke tobacco include pipes and cigars. Smokeless tobacco is inhaled through the nose as a powder or held in the mouth.

what is the most addictive drug
What is the most addictive drug?

What is the most addictive drug? Methamphetamines

Over 500,000 Americans over the age of 11 were classified as current methamphetamine abusers in 2014, according to NSDUH. Methamphetamine, or meth, is a powerful stimulant drug that is man-made in clandestine laboratories in either a powder or crystal (“crystal meth”) form to be smoked, snorted, or injected for an intense euphoric “high.” Meth can increase focus, decrease the need for sleep and appetite levels, and increase excitability and pleasure. In large amounts, it may also have psychotic side effects or cause aggression and/or violence.

Tolerance to meth can be developed rather quickly, prompting users to want to take more to keep feeling its effects. Increased dosages can lead to drug dependence. Over time, meth can cause damage to the regions of the brain related to learning, memory, and emotional regulation as well as significantly deplete levels of dopamine and the way the dopamine receptors in the brain work, NIDA reports.

Extremely low levels of dopamine and an inability to bind properly with receptors occur when meth leaves the body. This can result in severe depression, potential suicidal ideations, and significant drug cravings. These symptoms may facilitate compulsive drug-seeking behaviors and repeated meth abuse, which are hallmarks of addiction.

What is the most addictive drug? Methadone

Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication that helps many people struggling with addiction to opioids such as heroin.

It is used as part of a medication-assisted treatment program that includes counseling and participation in social support programs. When taken as directed, methadone can reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, decrease opioid cravings, and induce a significant amount of cross-tolerance to other opioids—which may block some or all of the euphoric effects of drugs such as heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. In some instances, certain formulations of methadone may be prescribed for pain control. 

Though it has several therapeutic uses, methadone use can lead to addiction. Per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2017, about 261,000 people aged 12 and older reported using methadone for a non-prescribed purpose at least once in their life.

Methadone was responsible for 3,194 overdose deaths in 2017, or about 1 per 100,000 people. In 2014, it accounted for 1% of all opioids prescribed for pain but was responsible for 23% of all prescription opioid deaths. 

What is the most addictive drug? Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that cause long-lasting changes in the brain’s ‘reward system’ when taken for long periods of time. When a user takes benzodiazepines, they alter the levels of reward-producing natural chemicals, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Over time, the brain physically adapts so that it is unable to produce these chemicals on its own and becomes reliant on the drugs to feel normal. These effects on the brain can easily lead a person to Benzo addiction

There are well-recognized harms from the long-term use of benzodiazepines. These include dependency, cognitive decline, and falls. This depends on the drug taken, but it is very possible to become addicted to the first use. Benzos are drugs that act on neurotransmitters in the brain causing feelings of relaxation. First marketed in the 1950s, Benzos were used as a treatment for anxiety and insomnia. They work by binding to GABA receptors in the brain, which inhibits signals to the central nervous system.

what is the most addictive drug
What is the most addictive drug? Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that cause long-lasting changes in the brain’s ‘reward system’ when taken for long periods of time.

What is the most addictive drug? Fentanyl

Fentanyl addiction is a serious condition that affects more Americans than one would think. Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017, 59.8 percent of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl compared to 14.3 percent in 2010. 

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally. Like morphine, it is a medicine that is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, especially after surgery. 

It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. Tolerance occurs when you need a higher and/or more frequent amount of a drug to get the desired effects. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®. 

When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl can be given as a shot, a patch that is put on a person’s skin, or as lozenges that are sucked like cough drops.

The illegally used fentanyl most often associated with recent overdoses is made in labs. This synthetic fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.

What is the most addictive drug? Kratom

Kratom is a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that can have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. It is not currently an illegal substance and people suffering from Kratom Drug Addiction can easily order it on the internet. It is sometimes sold as a green powder in packets labeled “not for human consumption.” It is also sometimes sold as an extract or gum.

Most people take kratom as a pill, capsule, or extract. Some people chew kratom leaves or brew the dried or powdered leaves as tea. Sometimes the leaves are smoked or eaten in food.

Kratom can cause effects similar to both opioids and stimulants. Two compounds in kratom leaves (mitragynine and 7-α-hydroxy mitragynine) interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain, especially when users consume large amounts of the plant.

Mitragynine also interacts with other receptor systems in the brain to produce stimulant effects. When kratom is taken in small amounts, users report increased energy, sociability, and alertness instead of sedation. However, kratom can also cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous side effects.

What is the most addictive drug? MDMA

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) commonly known as Molly, is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions).  It is chemically similar to stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception. 

It was initially popular in the nightclub scene and at all-night dance parties (“raves”). But the drug now affects a broader range of people, commonly called Ecstasy or Molly. Its chemical structure is similar to amphetamines, such as methamphetamine and a hallucinogen called mescaline. Mescaline is the active ingredient in the drug peyote.

The unique chemical structure of MDMA causes both hallucinogenic and stimulant effects, such as bursts of energy, changes to how time is perceived, and sensitivity to touch.  Ecstasy and Molly come in pills, capsules, and powder. They’re well-known club drugs that are popular at music festivals.

In 2016, an estimated 2.4 million people reported using ecstasy, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health published in September 2017.

Reclaim Your Life From Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a condition that can cause major health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up California can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from addiction and abuse with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.


[1] Cocaine Research Report. How is Cocaine Addiction treated? – National Institute on Drug Abuse (

[2] Heroin Addiction, Sándor Hosztafi, National Library of Medicine (

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Alcohol and substance misuse.

[4] Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment

[5] What are the Long-term Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse? – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

[6] Opioid addiction – U.S. National Library of Medicine (

[7] Brett, J., & Murnion, B. (2015). Management of benzodiazepine misuse and dependence. Australian prescriber. (