For the longest time, people have actively sought out dangerously addictive substances for different purposes. Today these substances have become increasingly popular for their use in medicinal, recreational and mood-boosting purposes.
The downside to the use of these substances is the extremely dangerous addiction that leaves it’s users craving for more while it damages their body system. These addictions can be so fatal as to cause brain impairments, physical and physiological dysfunctions, and even death.
Substance addiction makes a slave out of its victim. It makes the user grow an insatiable craving for the drug while it interferes with the chemistry of the brain. It drives a compulsive need to seek out these drugs regardless of the obvious and dire consequences.
These substances affect the reward system of the brain in such a way that it releases an unreasonably high amount of dopamine and some other neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are also known to incite the “feel good” sensations in humans including euphoria, vigor, and excitability.
Most of these substances are popular for their ability to stimulate and even overwork the brain’s neurotransmitters that are responsible for inducing these positive emotional effects. Some of these substances mimic the mechanism of the neurotransmitters contained in the reward system, renders them dysfunctional or speed up their reactions at a dangerously fast rate.
A normal functioning reward system pushes the need to repeat healthy and pleasurable behaviors like eating, sleeping, shopping, having sex and spending quality time with loved ones. It also steers us away from painful behavioral experiences.
The reward circuit majorly decides what behaviors to form a habit of and those to discard. When the reward system becomes poisoned by the use of dangerous substances, it pushes the need for the use of those substances repeatedly.
The perils of substance addiction have become so widespread that the United Nations office on drug and crime reported that about 35 million people are battling with drug use disorder. It also stated that opioids were responsible for the death of 390,000 people that died from drug abuse in 2017.
It reported that among the 11 million people who injected drugs in 2017, 1. 4 million of the population live with HIV, while 5.6 million are suffering from Hepatitis C. What makes this report even more bone-chilling is the revelation that treatment options and facilities for people suffering from drug and substance disorders are nearly inaccessible. It shockingly stated that only 1 out of 7 people enslaved by drugs and substance use receive treatment.
What makes a drug addictive majorly depends on its ability to stimulate dopamine in the reward system, the tendency for the body to become resistant to the drug in what is known as drug tolerance, and the need to fall back on the drug when withdrawal effects that arise from stopping the usage of the drug sets in.
A person will return to using these drugs in order to experience it effects again and avoid the side effects caused by its absence. This is known as drug dependence.
An assortment of these addictive drugs /substances are in circulation today, and some are more likely to develop into addiction with repeated use than others. Most of these substances are illegal while a few are legal. Based on the point of view of reputable researchers, here are 10 of the most dangerously addictive substances in the world:
List Of The Most Dangerously Addictive Substances
This powerful opiate has been ranked by researchers as the most addictive drug in the world. It is so potent that one in four people who try it for the first time become addicted to it. It has the ability to up dopamine levels in the brain to a large extent leading to an intense feeling of elation that makes the user want to experience more.
What even makes it more dangerous is that the amount needed to cause an overdose is only a few times greater than the amount needed to cause a “high”. It also alters the sense of pain and slows the heart rate and breathing.
Sometimes it is mixed with other painkillers like fentanyl which makes it all the more dangerous. Excessive use of this opiate can lead to your body forming a tolerance against it, which makes the user consume more in order to experience the same effects before tolerance kicked in. The more you increase the dose, the more likely your chances of overdosing. Heroin addiction is treatable and only requires the right medical intervention.
Cocaine especially in it’s more potent form (crack) is highly addictive. It interferes with the normal biochemical mechanism of dopamine by turning it’s signal off. This way dopamine levels rise to an uncontrollable amount.
Its effect is shortlived and makes the user want to take more as soon as it wears out. It is also characterized by severe withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, depression, agitation, impaired cognitive function, and extreme cravings. In order to avoid these side effects, a person who uses this drug will continuously run back to it as soon as any of the side effects begin to kick in.
And because it interferes with the body’s natural dopamine activation, the user will completely depend on the drug to experience pleasurable emotional feelings over time.
This is a common ingredient used in tobacco products. Most people are oblivious of how dangerously addictive this substance is, probably because it is legal for use. It is so addictive, that even the possibility of relapse is quite high since it is readily available.
It is one of the most globally used addictive substances. Once inside the body, it causes a brief rise in dopamine levels. Compared to other substances, it has a shorter “high” effect. However, due to alterations in dopamine levels, it easily causes the user to crave more of the dopamine effect.
In the long run, tolerance and dependency will set in and the user will not be able to function properly without using the substance. Long term use of this substance can lead to cancer and heart attack. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco has been implicated in the death of half of its users, rapidly killing more than 8 million people each year, with 7 million deaths due to direct use and 1.2 million dying from exposure to second-hand smoke.
These are a class of prescription drugs that affects the central nervous system and slows down the activities of the brain. They are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep problems like insomnia. This earned them the nickname “downers”.
Downers gives its user an elevated feeling of euphoria when administered in low doses. However, exceeding these doses can prove to be very lethal. They have widely been replaced by benzodiazepines which have almost the same effect. It is characterized by severe withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous. These symptoms include seizures, hallucinations, delirium, hypotension, and cardiovascular breakdown. It can also lead to death in extreme cases.
Alcohol is unarguably the most widely abused substance in the world. Although it is not quite prone to addiction like other substances, the excessive use and abuse of alcohol increase its addiction potential. It destabilizes the central nervous system and causes the brain to release an unregulated amount of dopamine and endorphins. It elevates the dopamine levels in the reward circuit by up to 360%.
It is also tolerance prone which makes addiction easy. The more one drinks alcohol, the more they need for it and in the long run dependency on the intoxicating drink becomes inevitable. It is also characterized by dangerous withdrawal symptoms such as severe anxiety, delirium, high blood pressure, seizures, hallucinations and may cause death.
Just like barbiturates, benzodiazepines are common prescription drugs used to treat symptoms of anxiety or stress. Examples of benzodiazepines are brand name drugs like Xanax and valium. These drugs are also used to combat alcohol addiction and are quite effective for medical and therapeutic purposes. However excessive use of the drugs can culminate into addiction.
Tolerance for the drug can develop really quickly, thereby increasing the risk of overdose. Once addiction sets in, initial symptoms that were being treated by the drug such as anxiety will resurface. Withdrawing from benzodiazepines can be very fatal and requires strict monitoring of the individual as well as readily available medical aid. Recovering from its addiction is quite tasking and might require treatment in a rehabilitation center.
This set of drugs stimulates the central nervous system and causes a surge in dopamine levels. It produces powerful bursts of vigor, excitement, energy, focus and an elevated sense of euphoria. It is mostly the go-to drug for people dealing with tight deadlines and demanding schedules.
Amphetamines are prescribed medically under safe dosages, but an increased dosage can lead to addiction. This is partly because the effects produced by the drug are far from natural that the user is motivated to seek those same effects again.
Withdrawal from the drug is epitomized by severe depression as opposed to the elevated mood boost previously experienced. This makes users seek out the drug continuously in order to avoid the side effect.
- CRYSTAL METHAMPHETAMINE
This is a potent central nervous system stimulant. Like most addictive drugs, it provides its user with a heightened feeling of excitability and vigor, but with a more long-lasting effect. It interferes with the dopamine reward system and simultaneously stimulates norepinephrine.
The effects are so intense that a powerful resistance to the drug is developed. The stimulation of these neurotransmitters influenced by the drug is so damaging that it destroys the body’s natural ability to produce them on its own, which reinforces the need for the consumption of the drug.
Crystalline methamphetamine is much more potent than it’s the powdered variant. Due to its long-lasting effect, it is commonly used by people who work long and tiring hours whose jobs require lots of physical exertion, such as construction and mine workers.
Withdrawal from the drug is debilitating for both body and mind and motivates the user to consume more of the drugs. Addicts usually suffer from psychosis, severe hallucinations, memory problems, and depression. The use of the drug has also been linked to a high suicide rate.
This is a common street drug with opium properties. It is medically used to treat symptoms of heroin and alcohol addiction. It hampers the mind-altering effects of heroin and eases symptoms associated with alcohol addiction. Although it is highly effective in treating these addictions, it comes with a heavy price. The drug can also stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain to produce a “high”.
Relapse is also common following addiction recovery. This is because the withdrawal symptoms mimic that of alcohol and heroin addiction. This causes the user to fall back on the drugs to get a reprieve from the severe withdrawal effects.
Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is an infamous date-rape drug. It is a central nervous system depressant that occurs naturally in the body. However, it is ingested for recreational purposes in low doses to induce feelings of euphoria. It is used as a date-rape drug in higher doses by mixing it with the victim’s drink, where it’s salty taste becomes undetected.
It also causes a temporary loss of muscle activity and forgetfulness. Its effects are short-lived. GHB is tolerance and dependency prone. Withdrawal symptoms are intense and can last for several weeks. They include insomnia, anxiety, hallucinations, and extreme sweating. It is also becoming increasingly popular for its use as a “come down” drug.
This means it can be used to tame the withdrawal effects left by the use of other drugs like Cocaine and crystal meth. This makes the user appear normal to a discerning eye.