addiction, addictive substances

A panel of chemists, psychiatrists, and pharmacologists sought out to develop a rational scale to assess the harm and potential misuse of drugs and listed off the top five most addictive substances in the world. Some of these substances are legal, so it’s important to know the risks.

The Five Most Addictive Substances In The World

Perhaps unsurprisingly to many, heroin was ranked as the most addictive substance known to man. Studies conducted on animals have shown this opiate can increase dopamine levels in the brain by up to 200%. In the United States, heroin use is, unfortunately, on the rise and so are heroin-related overdose deaths.

The second most addictive substance is cocaine. Animal research found that cocaine can increase dopamine levels in the brain by more than 3 times the normal rate.

In slot number three is nicotine. In the United States, more people are addicted to nicotine than any other drug. It is found naturally in tobacco, which is why smoking cigarettes is so addictive. This can be especially damaging to your health because tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals and around 70 of them can cause cancer.

Fourth on the list is barbituates. These are commonly known as ‘downer’s and can cause a euphoric effect. High doses can suppress breathing, which can be deadly.

Last on the list could surprise you. Alcohol came in at slot number five. Research on animals shows alcohol can increase dopamine levels in the brain between 40% and 360%. Dopamine levels increase with each drink.

How Can I Avoid Addiction?

Dopamine is the pleasure chemical of the brain, so it makes sense that someone may seek out ways to increase their amount. Drug addiction is very complex and can result from a myriad of life factors. Here are some recommendations for avoiding addiction:

  • Mental Health – Drug abuse often goes hand in hand with mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Seek out the help of a mental health professional instead of coping with drugs.
  • Alternatives – Find alternatives to drugs as a way to unwind or ease stress such as exercise, a hobby, time with friends, or caring for others. Learning to handle the pressures of everyday life can be challenging, but drugs are not the answer.
  • Avoid Illicit Drugs – It’s best to stay away from illegal substances and be careful not to misuse or abuse prescription drugs.
  • Communication – If you have teenagers, take to them openly and honestly about drugs. The best way to help your kids avoid addiction is through communication.

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