Addiction is more common than people realize. There are approximately 22 million people in the United States over the age of 12 with an addiction, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Almost 80 percent of individuals who struggle with a substance abuse disorder in 2014 also struggled with an alcohol use disorder. And a shocking report recently published by the National Safety Council says that Americans are more likely to die of an opioid overdose than in an automobile crash.
In a study published in the Lancet, British psychiatrist David Nutt and his colleagues rated the addictiveness and harmfulness of popular drugs, based on how pleasurable a substance was, how much psychological dependence it induced, and how physically dependent it made its users.
Here, according to Business Insider, are the top 5:
- Heroin. Nutt and his experts ranked heroin, a pain killer and opioid, as the most addictive drug. Heroin is an opiate that raises the dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system by up to 200 percent in experiments using animals. Heroin is not only the most addictive drug, it’s the most dangerous because the dose that can kill is only five times greater than a dose for getting high, according to CNN.
- Cocaine. Cocaine causes dopamine levels to rise more than three times the normal level. It’s estimated that between 14 and 20 million people use cocaine.
- Nicotine. The experts ranked nicotine, the main ingredient of tobacco, as the third most addictive substance. More than two-thirds of Americans who tried smoking reported becoming dependent.
- Barbiturates. Also called downers, these are a class of drugs initially prescribed to treat anxiety and to induce sleep. At low doses, barbiturates cause euphoria, but at a higher level they can suppress breathing and cause death.
- Alcohol. In laboratory experiments it raised the dopamine level in the brain’s reward system by 40 to 360 percent, and the more alcohol the animals drank, the higher the dopamine levels soared. The WHO estimates that more than 2 billion people used alcohol in 2002 and more than 3 million people died in 2012 due to its damaging effects on the body.