I have been asked this question many times and have never been able to give a straight answer. In order to determine something is at the top of a scale, there has to be a scale. There is no real way to measure addiction. I have seen someone far more addicted to alcohol than another person was to heroin; more people severely addicted to cigarettes than others to amphetamines. Heroin would typically be considered the most addictive drug because of the obvious and excessive damage that is done in a heroin user’s life as well as the excruciatingly painful detox process. There are too, so many widespread, socially acceptable addictions in America like sugar and nicotine, which could arguably be considered the most addictive drugs based on the number of users and lack of recovery. What people really want to know is the hardest drug to get off of. Again, still no sliding scale on this due to endless varying factors.
The rate of developing a physical chemical dependency is going to be contingent upon how much and how often you are using. Then comes in the factor of how long the drug is being in taken along with amount and consistency. If a man drinks a gallon of vodka a day for 40 years, his body could be physically dependent to the point where detoxing could kill him. Opiates are the more commonly dreaded drug to detox because the physical dependency can develop at a much more rapid pace. Opiate users, generally, are using more regularly in a shorter period of time. Benzos and Alcohol are the most dangerous to withdrawal from, which is why they are sometimes considered to be the most addictive drugs.
Normal people (nonaddicts) can have a glass of wine a few times a week without developing an addiction. This is not the case with Heroin. I have a friend in recovery who likes to say “ I just wanted to be able to use heroin like a regular person” The humor here is in the fact that regular people don’t just “use heroin” the way people have an occasional drink. Usually, opiate users are going through painful and severely uncomfortable comedowns which they remedy with more opiates. Once that cycle becomes a regular schedule the detox process can become very painful and even dangerous. This is is a fear that many addicts go through when thinking about getting sober. How bad is it going to hurt? Am I going to make it? Medical detox programs have made it safe for addicts to detox in a more comfortable environment.
Not only do people get into a mental state of “needing,” your body will also take on a severe need for it as well. While detoxing addicts from alcohol or opiates already have their mind racing and begging for more, the body is doing the same. In order for someone to get over their addiction, they will have to battle both physical and mental dependency. Common physical symptoms would be shaking, sweating, vomiting, nausea and severe body aches. The symptoms will vary based on the individual as well as how much, how long and how often they were using.
Alcohol in Abundance
Alcohol has been woven into the fabric of American society since the beginning. It’s legal to use, it’s in every restaurant and it’s the main attraction at every party. It’s even become the token date night event. This makes it easy for anyone with an addictive personality to get started and not easy to see when you have crossed the line from social drinking to alcoholic drinking. Alcohol is responsible for over 3 million deaths per year and countless broken home yet still it is a thriving industry and a cherished tradition in our society. It is the most common drug which makes it essentially impossible to avoid which could play a role in the number of failed attempts to stay abstinent. Many could argue that alcohol is the most addictive drug or even a gateway drug.
The Heroin Epidemic
Dopamine is the body’s naturally produced pleasure sensory. Heroin creates a heavy increase in dopamine in the brain which causes an overload of pleasure with a lowered awareness of pain. Essentially it feels really good. After these receptors are tampered with, the pain receptors become more sensitive and natural dopamine levels are diminished. This is where users find a heavy need to replenish dopamine levels with more heroin. The addiction develops quickly because it doesn’t take long for your body and mind to need more just to feel normal again.
The Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reported that in 2015, approximately 586,000 people in the United States aged 12 and older struggled with a heroin addiction. The number of users, overdoses and deaths are rising at an alarming rate all over the United States. Approximately 78 people die every single day due to opiate overdose. It’s easily becoming the most dangerous drug to use and the road is a long one for heroin addicts getting clean.
Most dangerous drug
While the level of pain and danger in detox symptoms are going to vary based on the amount of use and time used, we can easily say that Heroin is sweeping the nation in a swift manner. The likelihood of using heroin and not getting addicted and going through the painful detox process is slim. No one is safe from the heavy obsession that comes with the first use, making it one of the most addictive drugs.