Addiction, a severe dependence to a substance, currently affects millions of people in the US. People can be addicted to a variety of drugs, from alcohol and nicotine to opioids and downers or stimulants.

Casual substance use can quickly transform into an addiction. Addicts are typically unable to stop using, always have cravings for the drug, and may lose control of their behavior and emotions.

While many substances could be considered addictive, some are statistically more dangerous than others. There is a top layer of substances that are considered to cause addiction more intensely and rapidly than other drugs — but which ones are they?


How to Measure Level of Addiction

Since many scientists and civilians alike are curious about the most addictive drugs, many studies have been done to determine how dependent people can become on certain substances.

General symptoms of addiction may include problems at work or school, relationship or family issues, a constant desire to use, secretive behavior, and a changed physical appearance. If you believe that someone you know may be using an addictive substance, keep a lookout for those signs.

Even when an addiction is identified, it may be hard to determine what someone is addicted to or how severe the drug they’re abusing is. When studying the different types of addictive drugs, scientists might use some of the following criteria to rank the substances:

  • How pleasurable users consider the drug to be
  • Severity of withdrawal symptoms
  • How much the drug activates dopamines
  • How quickly and easily someone becomes addicted
  • Physical and physiological dependence
  • The street value of the drug

So now that we’re aware of the factors when it comes to deciding which drugs are the most addictive, it’s time to answer the question that millions have asked: which drugs are actually the most addictive?


Top 4 Addictive Substances

According to the studies that have been done around each type of substance, the following substances are known to be among the most addictive drugs:


  • Heroin – an addictive opioid that is injected into the body or smoked — can be most addictive when injected and causes extremely uncomfortable withdrawal
    • Likely to cause: Euphoria, nausea/vomiting, dry mouth, altered sensations of pain, clouded thinking, trouble sleeping, constipation, liver or kidney disease, lung problems, etc.


  • Cocaine – a stimulant drug that increases dopamine — can also be made into crack cocaine
    • Likely to cause: Increased energy, higher heart rate and blood pressure, euphoria, fatigue, depression & anxiety, heart attacks, seizures, or strokes


  • Alcohol – a legal substance meant to reduce anxiety, relieve pain, and increase motivation — releases dopamine and endorphins
    • Likely to cause: Impaired judgement, easy dependence, deadly withdrawal symptoms


  • Nicotine – a legal drug meant to reduce stress — causes more than 16 million diseases in the US
    • Likely to cause: Lung diseases or cancers, issues with neurotransmitters, reliance on nicotine to feel normal


Overcoming Substance Abuse

There are, of course, many other drugs that can cause severe cases of addiction; however, these four are known to cause addiction quickly and result in the most intense or harmful effects in the long run.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction to one of the above substances, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. While substances like alcohol and nicotine are legal and accessible to purchase from anyone of age, a long-standing dependence can cause many mental and physical problems in the long run.

To learn more about these addictive substances and treatment methods, call one of our professionals at 866-488-8349. There is always a solution for addiction; and those going through this disease are not alone.