most addictive drugs

The Worst of the Worst: Which of the Most Addictive Drugs Are the Worst for Your Health?

Cocaine, meth, and heroin, oh my! If you ask someone what the most addictive drugs are, they’ll probably site those three (not necessarily in that order).

And we agree – heroin, meth, and cocaine all cause thousands of deaths a year. We have death tolls that tell us which is “worst”, but they’re all life-altering bad.

Learn what two of the most dangerous three can do to a user below.

A Quick Disclaimer

It’s almost impossible to rank which drug is the most dangerous for your health. Why? Because of the way one drug acts on someone is different than the way it acts on another person. At least in subtle ways.

Some people try drugs once and can stop cold turkey. Other people are addicted from the first hit/puff/sniff. It’s all about how your body processes things and if you have addiction in your family.

Or if you’re predisposed to addiction from other factors, like your mental health.

That said – we’re going to use data that shows the number of deaths per drug to rank the dangerous drugs below, but keep in mind there is no real order- at least on an individual basis.

The Most Addictive Drugs: Heroin

Which drug have we seen an uptick of use within the last five years? Unfortunately, it’s not something relatively mild, like Cannabis.

It’s one of the most dangerous drugs (the most deaths), heroin.

Perhaps it’s because the people doing Heroin these days didn’t grow up hearing stories of people overdosing. There hasn’t been a famous death from heroin in quite a while.

At least not one as well-covered as Jim Morrison’s or Sid Vicious’. 

There were over 10,000 deaths from Heroin use in the US, in 2014, and the number goes up every year.

Why is Heroin so Dangerous?

Heroin is very addictive, you can compare it to things we’re seeing now, like fentanyl. In fact, they’re not that chemically different.

Both are depressants, which means they relax your body and create a feeling of euphoria. Both are types of opiates, which are derived from the Poppy plant.

If you’ve ever heard of Opium dens in Asian history – these were the kind of drugs they were doing.

However, heroin is very hard to administer. You can both snort and smoke the powder, but most choose to shoot it up – that is, insert it straight into their bloodstream through their veins.

That involves needles, which aren’t something you want to play with at home. Many heroin addicts care more about getting high than the quality and sterilization of the needle, which is how bloodborne diseases spread.

There are higher rates of hepatitis and HIV-Aids among intravenous drug users.

The Addictive Factor

Heroin is extremely addictive. One addict said that you feel so good on Heroin that you never feel that good again once you’re sober.

If it makes you really feel that good, you can see how quickly it becomes addictive.

But it’s not just that. The body builds up a tolerance to heroin as it does with any other drug. As you build up a tolerance, you have to shoot up more every time, to get the same effect.

And since heroin processes as morphine in your brain, it’s like turning the morphine drip to the highest setting – that’ll shut down your body’s processes and kill you just like that.

Issues with Purity

As if all that wasn’t dangerous enough, it’s rare to get pure heroin anymore. The purest heroin is a white powder, but most of the time it’s seen as tan or brownish. There is some that are black – which you’ve probably heard called black tar heroin.

The problem is, the darker the color, the worse the quality. Drug dealers are famous for “cutting” their drugs, which means that they add in another substance so they have more to sell/

Rat poison is commonly found in heroin, as is fentanyl. Laundry detergent and flour are two other, less harmful ingredients.

Yet- you saw what happened with the Tide Pod challenge. Do you really want to insert those kinds of chemicals into your blood?

Let us answer that for you: you don’t.

Finally, some drug dealers put pure caffeine into the heroin. While this doesn’t sound so dangerous, it can mask the signs of an overdose.

If someone doesn’t feel as high from the drug because of the caffeine, they may take more – and end up administering a lethal dose.

Second Place: Meth

It’s not easy to rank drugs. While there are fewer deaths due to meth use, Meth has a much more visible effect on your body. It’s not a drug anyone who values their looks want to use.

It’s highly addictive as well, probably as addictive (if not more) as heroin. It’s smoked or snorted, so it’s an easier delivery method than shooting up.

Along with the addictive aspect, meth restructures how your brain works – and that can last for up to a week after your last dose.

Drug-Induced Psychosis 

It’s common to experience drug-induced psychosis when coming down from meth. That means that your body experiences some of the symptoms of things like multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia as it tries to regain a sense of normality.

Both of those disorders can create delusions and hallucinations. Delusions can drive people to do dangerous and crazy things, like jump off a bridge if they think someone’s chasing them.

You also see the damage of the teeth, the lungs, the nervous system, and the skin in meth users. They famously have sores all over their body, as one of the common delusions is feeling like you have bugs crawling under your skin.

A lot of the deaths from meth don’t come from the direct use of the drug – but what it causes people to do.

That said, the number of deaths due to meth according to this CDC report was 3,495 in 2014. That’s almost a third of the deaths from heroin, but again, it doesn’t count drug-use-accident related cases.

There are No Good Drugs

When it comes to drugs – you shouldn’t do them unless you’re directed to by a doctor. And if you are directed to by a doctor, only do so in the exact fashion and for the exact amount of time as they direct.

The most addictive drugs are heroin and meth, but benzodiazepines (think, Xanax) and cocaine also make the list.

If you suspect a loved one is using one of these dangerous drugs (or any other!) get them to a rehab center, as soon as possible. Here’s a list of centers nearby, for your convenience. 

References:

intldrugsmap

International Drug Abuse Trends Examined

intldrugsmapThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has published information showing how drugs and drug abuse is affecting different countries throughout the world. The information shows a world that is flooded with drug use, but more importantly, what drugs are the biggest threats in which countries. This information can allow researchers and law enforcement to best prevent further drug use and understand what problems are facing different governments around the world.

The drug of choice for the United States of late is opioids. Opioids consist of prescription painkillers and heroin. Addicts in the U.S. have struggled with heroin for decades, however, prescription painkillers have been a relatively new problem over the past 20 years or so. In the nineties, pharmaceutical companies began developing and marketing medications to combat chronic pain. Up until then, people who struggled with back pain or pain from surgeries or accidents oftentimes had to learn how to live with the pain were limited in the number of prescriptions available to them.

When prescription painkillers began to flood the market and promote their “benefits” heavily, doctors began prescribing the pills to patients in record numbers. Unfortunately, the level of addiction associated with prescription painkillers was severely underestimated and millions of people began to develop addictions to the pills. Since then, prescription painkillers have taken the country by storm, moving beyond chronic pain patients and into schools and neighborhoods.

The United States is not the only country to continue to struggle with opioids. Almost all of the heaviest addiction problems in Europe are to opioids. This information shows researchers that the problem is definitely more global in nature, rather than being isolated among a few countries. The focus on eliminating prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse may be more effective if done on a grander worldwide scale.

Drug use throughout the rest of the world seems to vary. The most common drug Canadians, Australians and Mexicans abuse is marijuana. Those living in Scotland are more likely to abuse cocaine, while those living in New Zealand are more likely to abuse Ecstasy. Although the report from the United Nations does not hypothesize why people in different countries tend to abuse different kinds of drugs, further research into this question may help to bring about a solution to the growing, worldwide drug problem.

Link Between Marijuana and Prediabetes

diabeticjournalResearchers have found that there is a link between marijuana use and prediabetes. Prediabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar is chronically high but has not reached levels where type 2 diabetes is caused. People with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if this condition goes unchecked.

One of the biggest problems with the legalization of marijuana is that there is not enough information about how long-term drug use affects users. This is one study that indicates that marijuana’s medical properties may not be as beneficial as previously assumed.

In the past, physicians theorized that an increase of diabetes cases among marijuana users could be due to the tendency to eat more after consuming marijuana, with the extra calories leading to elevated blood sugar levels. However, researchers are beginning to think that there is a component within the actual drug that may be putting users at risk for prediabetes. In order to determine what the causes are, researchers agree that more studies need to be performed.

Coming to the conclusion that prolonged marijuana use can cause prediabetes required a significant amount of work. Researchers gathered information from an ongoing study called CARDIA, or Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults. This study gathers medical information from participants in four cities throughout the country over a period of 25 years. The initial data was taken when most of the participants were around the age of 30. After answering a questionnaire, the researchers were able to determine that 625 of the participants had never smoked marijuana, while 1014 participants were considered heavy marijuana smokers, using the drug at least 100 times in their life. Generally, those who abused marijuana in this age bracket were healthy and even more fit than those that were not abusing the drug.

Next, researchers looked at the smoking and physical habits of the participants 18 years later. Interestingly, even though previous examinations showed that the heavy marijuana users were healthy, by the time they reached the age of 50 they were 40% more likely to have prediabetes.

More research needs to be done as to why this occurs, however, it is clear that medical complications from long-term use of marijuana are serious problems that more people are likely to encounter.

School Drug Testing Policy Draws Controversy

pillsSchools throughout the country have realized that they have a responsibility to their students and community to do their part in fighting against teen substance abuse. While the notion isn’t new, the ways that they have gone about it have changed over the years. As part of this push to prevent teenagers from experimenting with and abusing drugs, some schools have instituted new policies regarding drug testing.

Currently, most schools don’t have drug testing policies, but more of them are starting to adopt mandatory random drug testing for extracurricular activities. Some people look at this as a form of punishment or threat, but it can also be viewed as more of an incentive not to use drugs.

“This policy is a step forward in my mind in assisting families and children, not to catch them, not to get them in trouble, not to harm them, but because we love them,” commented Tracie West, Auburn City School Board Vice President. The issue was passed unanimously by the school board, despite some parents’ objections regarding the new policy. Some people were concerned that the new policy would invade the privacy of the children. Others were worried about the cost of the drug tests and administering the tests, while others insisted that the new policy would not do much to handle potential drug problems.

Acknowledging that teenagers and children are often in situations where drug and alcohol use is present, even at school, is important for teachers and parents to understand. Chances are likely that more schools will continue to implement similar policies.

Some experts believe that the more tools and systems we have in place to help protect our children from substance abuse issues, the better off we are, but those must include effective education programs so that they choose not to engage in the behavior on their own.

Another Lesser Known Effect of Casual Drug Use

Most experts would agree that the best way to reverse the pattern of addiction in our nation is to do a better job of drug education and prevention. While there are some great programs available for people of all ages, many of them leave out the extended reach of the consequences caused by illegal drug use.

Many casual users, especially young adults like college students, are completely unaware of what they’re promoting when they occasionally use marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs. Socially conscious and aware people understand that the drug trade fuels violence, both in our country and others, especially Mexico. However, few make the link that their joint or bump is funding cartels that are committing murder daily on both sides of the border.

About 90 percent of the cocaine abused in the United States reportedly traveled through Mexico before it was packaged and sold to people around the country. In order to get the cocaine from Mexico and into the U.S., cartels employ many different methods, but one outcome has always been the destruction they leave in their wake.

Despite what many believe, many Mexicans and residents in other South American countries that are affected by the cartels and drug routes, do not want anything to do with illegal drugs. Unfortunately, they often have little choice but to get involved, or they will become subjected to the violence. The drug cartels often force people to smuggle drugs into the U.S. by kidnapping them, threatening their families or by charging such extreme tolls on common routes into the U.S. that people have no choice but to agree to smuggle in drugs.

The violence that is associated with cartels is nothing new, but it continues to be terrifying and used as a method to frighten and manipulate. Those that speak out against the cartels or refuse to join or will not help smuggle drugs into the U.S. are in real danger of physical retaliation and likely death. Families of those that resist the cartels are also in danger – many are killed when a loved one will not comply with the cartels. These drug lords have also targeted local media and frightened them into staying away from reporting their activities.

The only reason why this violence and torture is allowed to exist is because the demand for drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine are so strong in the United States. Our country consumes a large portion of the illegal drugs in the world, despite having a relatively small population in comparison to other major nations.

While some say the answer is to simply legalize the drugs, they’re also being naive and irresponsible, as a nation full of drug users means increased violence, crime, accidents and injuries here as well. The answer, then, really does seem to come around to more effective drug education and prevention practices to reduce the demand, but it goes well beyond that. We must work to solve societal problems that generate the desire in individuals to seek out relief through these chemicals.

2015 National Drug Facts Week

ndfw2015The National Drug Facts Week wrapped up at the end of January. It is a week designed to enlighten and educate young people about the dangers of drugs and the facts about drug abuse. Children and teenagers often get their information about drugs from television, the Internet or their friends, and then use that information as the basis for their decisions about drug and alcohol use.

Unfortunately, relying on these sources for information regarding drugs and alcohol can lead young people into engaging in risky, dangerous and even deadly behavior. Teenagers are especially very susceptible to peer pressure and feeling the need to fit in. National Drug Facts Week aims to arm these young people with the facts and allow them to make more informed decisions in this area.

One thing that young adults may not realize is that drug and alcohol abuse cost the public billions of dollars. This may not mean something to them immediately, but a closer look at why drug use is so expensive may shed some light into the world of addiction that many children and teenagers do not understand. Healthcare for overdoses, psychotic breaks, injuries due to substance abuse and rehabilitation programs are all contributing to inflate the overall cost of drug abuse.

National Drug Facts Week was launched in 2010 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) . To counteract the myths they get from other sources, NIDA scientists want to stimulate events in communities so teens can learn what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction.

Participating events occurred this year in communities and schools throughout the country, with the intent on having honest conversations about the effects of drugs and alcohol. Observances such as this and others throughout the year are very necessary in continuing to combat addiction, as prevention is the earliest chance to save lives before intervention and treatment is needed.

Survey Says that Curiosity is the Leading Reason College Students Try Fake Pot

jdesarpThe main reason college students are trying synthetic marijuana is curiosity, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati.

More than 330 students in undergraduate and graduate health programs at a public university were surveyed on their use of the drug. The University of Cincinnati researchers found that 17 percent of students surveyed said they used synthetic marijuana at least once in their lifetime, and 3 percent reported recently using the drug.

The students’ leading reasons for trying synthetic marijuana included: curiosity, having the highest response rate of nearly 20 percent; to get high, for the “fun of feeling high”; to fit in; and peer pressure.

Females were more likely to first try synthetic marijuana at a younger age than males. Freshmen and sophomores who had tried the substance did so at about age 16 and a half, while upperclassmen and grad students started using the substance at just under age 19.

The survey’s results suggest preventative measures should target younger children. The researchers suggested that preventative programs should begin as early as high school. “Perhaps, targeting middle and high school students with education programs on the negative effects of THC is needed to prevent initiation and regular use,” they wrote.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical compound in the cannabis or marijuana plant that causes the “high” effect. Synthetic marijuana is produced with chemicals to mimic the effects of THC. Synthetic pot is also known as K2, fake weed, herbal incense, plant food, Spice and synthetic THC. College students get synthetic marijuana primarily from head shops, friends, tobacco shops, hemp shops, online, gas stations and convenience stores.

Negative effects from using synthetic marijuana products include racing heartbeat, nervousness, paranoia, nausea and headaches, according to the study in the Journal of Drug Education.