Much of the illegal drugs are banned precisely because of their ability to take control of people’s lives.

Chemical addiction is part of the basic functioning of the effects that these substances have on the nervous system , and that makes it not easy to get away from them.

The 16 most addictive drugs

Although the first doses of these substances can produce an unpleasant sensation, the truth is that they end up making our brain learn that it can only experience pleasure by consuming the necessary amount of the drug. This, which depends on the reward system of the limbic system (the part of the brain in charge of producing emotional states) makes these addictive substances dominate us.

However, not all addictions are the same. When we experience them, our individual genetics are influenced, but so are the characteristics of the chemical in question and the social rituals linked to its use. That’s why some are more difficult than others to stop.

In this regard, a few years ago the researcher David Nutt from London’s Imperial College made a series of measurements about the addictive potential of various substances, to obtain a dependency index. These are the 10 substances that were classified in this ranking, ordered by their addictive power .

16. LSD

Another drug that, along with ecstasy, is often used recreationally. This one, however, has a very powerful hallucinogenic effect .

15. Cannabis

While not usually known for its addictive effects, cannabis can create strong long-term dependence.

14. Phencyclidine (PCP)

A drug with intense hallucinogenic effects. It’s also known as angel dust.

13. MDMA

Ecstasy or MDMA is one of the most famous recreational drugs used in the context of nightlife. Once a certain threshold in the frequency of consumption is passed, this substance becomes very addictive.

12. Methaqualone

A sedative-hypnotic drug that, in its recreational form (often synthesized clandestinely), is known as Quaaludes .

12. Oxycodone

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid analgesic synthesized from thebaine. In the medical context, it is sometimes used in cases of severe pain, such as post-operative.

11. OxyContin

This heroin-like drug acts on the brain’s reward system and significantly increases dopamine levels .

10. GHB

Also known as gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, GHB is a molecule that is manufactured in small quantities by our own body and is used as a neurotransmitter, that is, as a messenger for neurons to communicate with each other.

However, if we administer an extra of this substance our tolerance threshold rises rapidly, making us need more and more. In addition, this also has an effect on alcohol tolerance, and its rebound effect is very intense.

9. Amphetamines

Amphetamines are psychostimulants related to the class of substances used to treat ADHD (such as methylphenidate). This drug causes the brain to be flooded with dopamine and norepinephrine, but in addition it is capable of generating one of the fastest addictions in existence .

8. Benzodiazepine

An anticonvulsant and hypnotic that in psychiatry is frequently used in cases of anxiety disorders or epilepsy. It is commercially known by names such as Valium or Xanax .

Although at specific moments it can be very useful to intervene on neurological disorders, as time goes by it can generate a strong degree of dependence.

7. Alcohol

A controversial substance, as it enjoys wide social acceptance and is legalized by tradition. Even though the first shots may be unpleasant because they “burn the throat”, over time the degree of dependency can become very intense , to the point where stopping consumption in cases of strong dependency can generate a syndrome known as delirium tremens, which is sometimes fatal.

6. Seconal

Barbiturates are substances that depress brain activity and are more potent than benzodiazepines. They lead to a high degree of sedation , relaxation and also have a certain analgesic power. They act on the receptors of the neurotransmitter GABA. In this category, a preparation known as seconal stands out.

5. Glass

Methamphetamine is a popular synthetic drug used for the euphoric effects and megalomaniacal thoughts it produces. Like other psychostimulants, causes the brain to become full of dopamine and, at the same time, this substance is produced in less and less quantity by the body itself, making it totally dependent on the doses administered.

4. Methadone

Methadone is used to intervene in cases of addiction to other drugs, but ironically it shows a very high potential for dependency. It is used as a “lesser evil”, since the symptoms associated with this substance are less virulent than in most cases.

3. Nicotine

No more introductions. Nicotine is one of the great business successes, and is based entirely on a chemical addiction fuelled by social addiction historically generated through advertising and its appearance in films.

2. Cocaine

Cocaine is the illegal drug that moves the most money in the world. Its effects consist of the feeling of euphoria that many people have learned to link to their nights out , although it is consumed in all kinds of contexts.

1. Heroin

Known as the drug of poor people, heroin is linked to high levels of marginalization and disease transmission . The urge to use it because of the addiction it produces is so intense that aspects such as hygiene or health guarantees take second place.

Bibliographic references:

  • Bennett, Brian (June 9, 2011). “U.S. can’t justify its drug war spending, reports say.” Los Angeles Times. Accessed April 29, 2016.
  • Castelló Pérez, Sergio García Peña, Eva María Montesinos Torres, Rubén (2009). Study on the degree of knowledge about designer drugs. September 26, from Jaume I University.
  • Prague, Maria del Carmen. (2001). Origins and effects of addictions. Mexico City: SEP.