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What is the Most Addictive Drug? | Primary Purpose Behavioral Health

After a simple outpatient knee surgery at 26 I was prescribed 2 weeks worth of Percocet. After 4 days I woke up, immediately reached for my Percocet, and considered taking two to head-off the pain, only to realize, as I was happily opening the bottle, that I was experiencing NO pain. I thought, what’s one more day of sleepy recovery? The high might be even better without the pain in my knee. I considered it, but didn’t flush the bottle of pills. I didn’t take one. I put away the bottle, happy to know that I could take a Percocet if I wanted to take one. The bottle was eventually stolen from me and used up - which might be the greatest blessing in my life, now that I’m closely considering the issue. I loved that I had that little bottle of peace with me - just in case. It took me 4 days to develop my first symptoms of addiction.

Since that day, I've lived in 4 US states and 4 countries, learned to speak 2 foreign languages passably, completed a masters degree and traveled to over 47 countries for work and pleasure. I wonder...if I had taken those pills and slept happily all day - would any of this life that I love ever happened? I've also made the exact opposite decision hundreds of times, and today I'm still healthy and happy.

Millions of people are faced with this same decision every day. New mothers who need to sleep, and can't because they are so focused on listening for the baby. College students who need to stay up and study, or sleep for a big exam. People hurt on the job who rarely get a day off. That sleepy afternoon sounds so so tempting. You deserve it! Life is hard.

Addiction is a possibility for everyone and anyone. With addiction one of the most pressing issues in the USA at the moment, many people are wondering “what is the most addictive drug out there?” and why?

Criteria for Determining the Danger of Addiction to a Drug

There are several criteria scientists and researchers use to determine how likely a person is to become addicted to a drug, and how long it takes to start experiencing addiction symptoms. Scientists measure;

  1. Potential for dependence - this criteria is an attempt to measure how the drug interacts with each person’s brain chemistry. Some people are more susceptible to dependence than others. As you can see, this criteria is highly subjective and unique to each person. It took me 4 days.

  2. Severity or duration of withdrawal symptoms - withdrawl symptoms are a physical indication of addiction. How intense they are and how long they last are a huge indicator of the danger of the drug in question.

  3. Harmful physical or mental health effects - different drugs cause varying degrees of negative health effects and consequences, some more severe than others. 

  4. Street value and drug availability - this is important because drugs that are less available are less likely to present a danger of addiction, simply due to lack of supply. Consequently, more widely available drugs are more likely to cause addiction as they are easier to get.

The Most Addictive Drug is….

opiates are compounds extracted from plants

Heroin and other opiates. Opiates are compounds which are chemically extracted from plants or natural plant material.

Commonly used and available opiates include;

  • Opium

  • Morphine

  • Codeine

  • Heroin

Opiates vs Opioids

Opiates and Opioids are not the same. While Opiates are extracted from plants, Opioids are chemical compounds created in a lab using a few opioid molecules. There are more than 500 different opioid molecules in use in the pharmaceutical industry, including;

  • Dextromethorphan (available in the U.S. without prescription as, e.g., NyQuil, Robitussin, TheraFlu, Vicks)

  • Dextropropoxyphene (e.g., Darvocet-N, Darvon)

  • Loperamide (e.g., Imodium)

  • Hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin)

  • Oxycodone (e.g., Oxycontin, Percocet)

  • Oxymorphone (e.g., Opana)

  • Meperidine (e.g., Demerol)

  • Methadone (e.g., Dolophine)

  • Fentanyl/fentanil (e.g., Ultiva, Sublimaze, Duragesic patch)

  • Carfentanyl/carfentanil (e.g., Wildnil, for veterinary use)

In addition to the opioids above, there are thousands of derivatives of each of these chemical compounds, some safe and some deadly. 

Addiction & Money | An Obvious Correlation

You can see there are so many readily available options for those seeking peace from physical and mental pain or stress. With so many opportunities for drugs on the black market and through the medical community, it’s almost easier to continue in addiction. After all, there is money to be made in addiction - look at how many addictive drugs have been created! Opiates feed the black market while opioids feed the pharmaceutical industry. In short, selling these drugs illegally and legally is bringing in lots of money. Sobriety brings in very little. We think that should change.

The AMA says that, “About 45% of people who use heroin started with an addiction to prescription opioids.” We think this statistic speaks for itself - and is important to remember for those who think addiction can’t touch them. We’d put money on the fact that not one person in that 45% (3 million people total), started taking prescribed medication with the intention to become addicted. 

Have empathy. You yourself might be one twisted ankle or routine surgery away from addiction.

Heroin | The Most Addictive Drug | End of Story

Heroin and other opiates are the most addictive drugs out there. 1 in 4 people who use heroin will become addicted (on the extreme low end). Its potential for dependence is high, withdrawal symptoms severe, causes severe negative mental and physical effects and is readily available on the black market. For more information on addiction, contact Primary Purpose Behavioral Health today.

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