Seized Cocaine

What Are The Top 10 Most Addictive Illegal Drugs

Drug addiction remains a major issue in the United States, the UK and many other countries in the West. In recent years, the prevalence of certain drugs has reached dangerous levels. The increase in the use of heroin is a real cause for concern. There are also a number of other highly addictive illegal drugs that are sold in the black market.

While it is true that most people that try a drug once don’t end up become addicted to it, the fact is, anyone who tries an illegal drug even once is living dangerously. There are many factors in play that decide whether a person can become addicted to drugs or not, such as their family background, peer pressure, genetic makeup and so on.

We take a look at 10 of the most addictive illegal drugs in the black market, which have destroyed the lives of millions around the world. Some of the drugs mentioned here are commonly available in the local black market while others are expensive and hard to get.

The Top 10 Most Addictive Illegal Drugs

1. Crack Cocaine

Crack is the most lethal of all illegal drugs. It is cocaine at its purest form and is known to cause great damage to the brain by releasing an enormous amount of dopamine. Crack cocaine is usually smoked through a glass pipe. It leads to extreme feelings of pleasure and unbridled joy. Those who smoke crack experience a burst of energy and an intense high which last for about 10 minutes.

There are many who become addicted to crack the first time they smoke it. That is why it is considered to be the most addictive of all drugs. Crack abuse was a major problem in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, but now crack smokers are rare to find, and forms just a small portion of the drug users around the world.

2. Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive drug. Those who smoke heroin feel an instant high and after a while cannot live without it. Addicts need heroin to feel good about themselves, otherwise they get depressed. They have this intense craving for heroin, especially during the withdrawal phase.

Heroin is a semi-synthetic substance that is extracted from opium. It is considered to be a part of the opiate class of drugs. One can take heroin through a needle injection. The purest forms of heroin are either smoked or snorted.

Heroin has intensely addictive properties. The addict’s brain has a strong craving for heroin, which never goes away once you start taking it. Many heroin addicts were initiated into the use of this drug after first getting addicted to legal opinion pain killers obtained through prescriptions.

Once the prescription ran out they felt the need for something stronger that gave them the same feeling of intense high. Heroin is responsible for more deaths than any other illegal drug – in 2014 alone, 10,000 Americans died of heroin abuse. 20% of addicts in rehab clinics suffer from heroin abuse.

3. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug that leads to a much higher level of dopamine in the brain, which makes the person taking the drug go hyper alert and hyperactive. Meth, as this drug is commonly referred to, releases a massive amount of dopamine in the brain, while suppressing the norepinephrine production at the same time. So the drug abuser develops a much higher level of tolerance to the drug and starts craving for it with a great intensity.

Meth can be taken in many ways – it can be snorted, smoked or taken orally. It can be injected into the body or dissolved in water or alcohol. Meth is referred to as a club drug. It suppresses the abuser’s appetite. Once the drug abuser gets on a high on meth, it does not wear off for at least 8 hours. Abusing meth for many months or years can lead to severe memory loss, heart attack, brain damage, severe weight loss, psychotic behaviour, gum damage and tooth decay.

4. Bath Salts

Bath salts are a form of a synthetic drug that makes one feel euphoric almost instantly. It is taken through injections, snorting and smoking. The effect of bath salts lasts for many hours. Quite often users take bath salts on multiple occasions and stay up for many days at a time. MDPV is the main ingredient used in Bath salts, and it is considered to be just as addictive as meth.

Bath salts are popular because they much cheaper than cocaine, meth and ecstasy and are easy to find. Bath salt usage was really high in the United States in the 2000s, but of late the authorities have clamped down on the distribution of this drug. Taking bath salts can lead to agitated or even violent behaviour, insomnia and hallucinations. It could even lead to a breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue and liver and kidney damage.

5. Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug which creates a much higher level of dopamine in a person’s brain. Taking cocaine even once creates a strong craving for the substance and you can’t have enough of it. Snorting cocaine leads to an intense feeling of excitement and a joy, a real high and creates a much higher level of tolerance for the drug. Cocaine addiction can result in edgy behaviour, depression and restlessness, as well as irregular eating and sleeping patterns.

Other consequences of cocaine use include increased instances of heart attack, respiratory problems, stroke and seizure. Ingesting cocaine for a long time leads to psychotic behaviour and hallucinations.

6. Amphetamine

Amphetamine is a drug that is often compared to methamphetamine, but is not the same. This drug makes the user feel full of energy, confident and happy, almost euphoric and curbs appetite.

Initially people take Amphetamine to lose weight and to feel better about themselves, but this drug contains banned substances such as Adderall and Dexedrine. Taking this drug can lead to anxiety and depression, dry mouth, nervousness, headaches and severe weight loss. It could also result in psychotic behaviour, convulsions and panic attacks.

7. Methadone

Methadone is an opioid or a pain killer and is prescribed to treat morphine or heroin addiction. Taking this drug helps people struggling with severe withdrawal symptoms. The risk of Methadone addiction is low, as long as this drug is taken in a hospital setting under the instructions of a qualified doctor.

However, a lot of people start taking Methadone for recreational use and become addicted to it. This drug is available in the form of powder, tablets and liquid. Its side effects include difficulty in breathing, nausea, constipation, impotence, intense sweating and even death.

8. Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs. They are available in 15 different forms such as Valium, Klonopin and Xanax. These drugs have a relaxing effect on the brain by releasing a nerve calming agent referred to as GABA.

The version of this drug that is available in the black market is particularly dangerous. It could lead to side effects such as depression, lethargy, cognitive impairment, memory loss, muscle stiffness, stomach pain, restlessness, tremors and nausea.

9. Ecstasy

Ecstasy, also referred to as the “love drug” was very popular in the 1980s, especially with the younger generation. It is still very common. Those who take this drug feel very happy, alert and focused for a short while. They feel relaxed as long as they are under the influence of this drug. Ecstasy users can go without sleep for 2 to 3 days when they are under the influence of this drug.

MDMA is the most common ingredient found in Ecstasy. MDMA in the purest form is called as Molly. Ecstasy is available in the form of a tablet, powder and capsule. It leads to blurred vision, nausea, higher heart rate, muscle cramps, panic attacks, psychotic behaviour, anxiety and depression and paranoia. It could even lead to heart attack and stroke.

10. Cannabis

Cannabis is the least dangerous drug of all the illegal banned substances mentioned here. Many countries permit the use of cannabis for medical purposes, such as in chemotherapy. Some countries permit recreational use of this drug as well. 8 states in the United States, including California, permit the use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

Cannabis is generally benign, but can cause changes to the brain and is mildly addictive. It is not physically or chemically addictive like the other drugs on this list, but is psychologically addictive. Just 10 percent of people who take cannabis develop dependency towards the drug.

Side effects of cannabis include sleeping problems, restlessness, poor appetite and irritability. According to researchers from New Zealand, taking cannabis regularly could lead to decrease in brain matter and an average loss of 8 IQ points.

Photo Credit: “Seized cocaine” (CC BY 2.0) by National Crime Agency