There is disagreement among drug experts in determining which drugs are the most addictive, and how addicting these drugs are on an “addiction scale”. EMPR, the electronic version of the Monthly Prescribing Reference, published an article on April 15, 2016 titled the “These 5 Drugs Are Considered Most Addictive.” Eric Bowman, PhD, of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland was the author.
Bowman’s list ranked the drugs in descending order of addictiveness in the list below:
Bowman considers heroin a 3.0 on a 0.0 to 3.0 scale. It is the most addicting drug in the world. An older, more comprehensive list of addictive drugs was assembled by Jacqueline Detwiler of an addiction treatment corporation called The Fix. Detwiler published an article on Dec. 20, 2011 that listed ten addictive drugs in descending order of addictiveness. The article is titled “The 10 Hardest Drugs to Kick.”
The Fix, which is focused on addiction treatment, offers the following list of 10 hardest addictive drugs using the same 3.0 addiction scale. The Fix article provides slides for each of the drugs with a thorough discussion of what makes the drugs so addictive, and what effects it has on the production of dopamine and similar chemicals in the human brain.
1 Heroin 2.89
2 Crack cocaine 2.82
3 Nicotine 2.82
4 Methadone 2.68
5 Crystal Meth 2.24
6 Alcohol 2.13
7 Cocaine 2.13
8 Amphetamines 1.95
9 Benzodiazepines 1.89
10 GHB 1.71 (Gamma -Hydroxybutyric acid)
There is a major category drugs that are totally missed by both lists. These are the opioid and synthetic opioid pharmaceutical pain killers. The National Institute of Health (NIH) provides a list of the opioid drugs and how they are used. This description was updated in November 2014.
Medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs.
The NIH missed a crucial synthetic opioid in their description. The drug is Fentanyl, which operates in the same area of the brain as morphine, but it is stronger. Fentanyl can be used with patches of varying strength for extended action. The combination of Fentanyl and heroin has proven to be potent, and the source of many drug overdoses.
Because of extreme pressure to reduce the abuse of prescription painkillers, drug addicts and narcotic abusers have turned to heroin because it is cheaper and more readily available. Columbus, OH has become a major distribution center for heroin, with smaller cities like Marion, Lancaster, Mt. Vernon, Chillicothe and Portsmouth, as secondary targets.
There is no easy solution to solving the drug addiction problem. The only drug on the list that has seen effective pressure to reduce consumption is nicotine. Methamphetamine is a growing problem across the US due to the ability to produce the drug from commonly available products. Restricting the availability of pseudoephedrine from pharmacies has made it more difficult for small labs to produce methamphetamine, but large manufacturers continue to supply addicts with methamphetamine, amphetamines, and synthetic alternatives like bath salts.
The legalization of marijuana may divert some from the use of heroin and the barbiturates. D.A.R.E. and the NIH have now reached the conclusion that marijuana is not a gateway to the drugs on these lists, but the number of users of seriously addicting drugs continues to grow. The specific determination of the worst addictive drugs is a based upon location, the focus of drug enforcement, and substitution of drugs based upon price and availability.
The information in this article provides a picture of the most addictive drugs, but no real solutions to solving the problems that originate in the poverty, human abuse, and attempts of users to escape reality. This points to decriminalization and treatment of addicts over extended imprisonment in increasingly “for profit” prisons.