If someone asked us, what are the most addictive drugs in the world ?, the answer would seem simple a priori. But it is not so much if we analyze it calmly.
Obviously, the typical substances such as alcohol or tobacco will always appear in our heads, which despite being the only legal drugs in almost all the world, are still less dangerous and addictive for it. We could also think about cannabis or marijuana error !, because it has not been shown to have that addictive level that other substances have. If anything, psychological addiction (out of habit), but not physical like some.
As a basis, we must be clear about some points: A drug is addictive according to several factors, such as the damage it produces, its purchase value, the degree of brain addiction according to the reward system of our body, the withdrawal it causes, and the ease with which we get hooked on the drug. Taking all this into account, today we will talk about what are the 5 most addictive drugs on the planet, according to a study by The Lancet from last 2007.
According to the study, carried out by David Nutt and his colleagues, it took first place to the white angel drug: The heroine. This drug has earned such an award for surpassing all others among the most addictive drugs in the world, having a score of 2.5 out of a maximum of 3 according to the experts consulted.
Herone acts on the brain reward system, increasing the neurotransmitter dopamineup to 200% according to some animal studies. But it is not only the most addictive drug, but also the most dangerous; heroin overdose can be five times more likely to kill than any other drug. In addition, heroin has already been rated the second most damaging drug, in terms of harm to both users and society at large.
Continuing with the podium of the most addictive drugs we have the legendary and world-renowned alcohol, a legal drug par excellence and guilty of spending millions on advertising against its abuse (and the health costs generated by the accidents it continues to cause). This drug has obtained a score of 2.2 out of a maximum of 3 of degree of addiction for its ability to increase brain dopamine from 40% to 360% according to some animal studies.
According to the experts, almost 1 in 4 individuals who try alcohol end up addicted. Furthermore, it is estimated that up to 3 million people died in 2012 from alcohol abuse. According to studies, alcohol is precisely the most harmful drug of all, due to its effects on individuals and society.
Third, but no less dangerous, we have the cocaine. This white powder also acts directly on the dopamine reward system, preventing neurons from functioning properly and forming a kind of loop in the system. As a consequence, cocaine triples the normal level of brain dopamine.
It is believed that currently between 14 and 20 million people use cocaine worldwide, which has been classified as the third most harmful drug in the world in its form of crack, and as the fifth most harmful drug in its powder form, more soft. As with alcohol, about 21% of individuals who try cocaine become addicted at some point in his life.
4. Barbitrates (tranquilizers)
The barbiturates, formerly used as tranquilizers and as a treatment against anxiety or sleep disorders, currently practically not used Already in medicine (in fact I would dare to say that in Spain they are not used at all), having been replaced by safer ones such as benzodiazepines (Valium) and antidepressants.
These substances also interfere with brain chemistry, closing the signals from some regions of the brain. If they are used in low doses they cause euphoria; but in high doses, barbiturates can lead to death for interfering with the respiratory system at the brain level. As I say, currently dependence on this drug has decreased due to its lack of use and availability, but it will also occupy the fourth place as the most addictive drug in today's classification.
To finish, we have the quintessential addictive ingredient of tobacco: nicotine. In this case, what happens when someone smokes a cigarette is that nicotine is quickly absorbed by the lungs, almost instantly passing into the blood and directly to the brain. Experts consulted by Nutt and his colleagues ranked tobacco 12th for its addiction, but there is reason to believe that nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world, deserving of being number five on this list. In animal studies, nicotine has been shown to increase brain dopamine by 25% to 40%.
In fact, we could say that it has greater potential even than the previous ones, since only in the United States more than 66% of the individuals who started smoking became dependent at some point in their lives. According to the WHO, there are more than 1 billion smokers in the world, and tobacco is expected to kill more than 8 million people in 2030.