What Are the Most Addictive Drugs? | Dangers of Drug Addiction

Drugs and alcohol are dangerous. Many of us may have heard this and some of us have lived the realities associated with substance abuse. It can be incredibly difficult to overcome the disease of addiction. As more potent substances are accessible to individuals, it becomes harder and harder to fight against drug dependency. Most people assume that hard drugs like cocaine and heroin are among the most addictive. Addictive properties are certainly a factor, but the most addictive drugs also factor in availability and frequency of use. Below we’re discussing the dangers and risks involved with consuming various drugs. 

Alcohol and drugs, regardless of the type, carry a potential for abuse. It’s important to discuss the risks of prescription medications with a physician. It’s also important to become educated on illicit drugs and identifying problematic behaviors. For immediate help, contact our online substance abuse rehab center directly at (720) 650-8055

america's most addictive drugs

Labeling Dangerous Drugs on the Market 

We know that most drugs, whether legal or illicit, carry harmful consequences. How do addiction experts, politicians, local governments, doctors, and counselors label drugs in terms of their potential for abuse? Understanding how certain substances make the list of the most addictive drugs is important, because these lists may very well change from person to person. 

Proper legal penalties and safety regulation of drugs have been the main focus for politicians, employers, doctors, and counselors. Developing clear boundaries and expectations for safety is challenging. In part, the sheer number of drugs available in the pharmaceutical market and on the streets is staggering. 

Regulating Drugs on the Market

Illicit drugs such as LSD, cocaine, MDMA, and heroin do not have any regulatory requirements as these drugs are often manufactured independently and illegally. Since there are no regulations on these “street drugs” the risk of potentially life-threatening and dangerous side effects is extensive. 

For one, the side effects of street drugs are highly dangerous. Due to the history of drug abuse across the country, the formation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was a necessary step to regulating drugs on the market. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act developed clearer expectations and rules around what drugs and in what ways drugs are considered illegal. The DEA went on to develop different classes of drugs known as drug schedules. What does the DEA consider to be among the most addictive drugs?

All drugs can be highly addictive, however, drug schedules help to clarify the dangers they may have on the self and the community. The lower the schedule, the higher the potential a user may have for developing a substance dependence or engaging in drug abuse behaviors, including criminal activity.

Schedule I Drugs/Substances

Schedule I drugs are a class of drugs/substances recognized by the DEA for not having any medical purposes and a high possibility for drug abuse or dependence. Common Schedule 1 drugs include:

  •     Heroin
  •     Marijuana
  •     LSD
  •     Ecstasy or MDMA
  •     Peyote

It is important to note that since a drug is classified as Schedule I does not mean you will become addicted, however, research and studies place these substances in schedule one as they have a high potential for abuse and are strictly for recreational use. Engaging in risky, recreational use of a substance is a precursor for developing substance use disorders. Also, Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug despite current changes in the medicinal benefits it may have. It is considered Schedule I on a federal level. States do have the option through their drug task force sectors to change the criminal penalties or legalize the substance in their state, although it is still illegal federally. 

Schedule II Drugs/Substances

Schedule II drugs/substances have fewer criminal consequences if abused or used inappropriately as they may be prescribed for medical purposes, however these drugs still have severe side effects if used in a way not intended. Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe psychological and physical dependence. 

Common Schedule II drugs include:

  •     Vicodin
  •     Methamphetamine
  •     Methadone
  •     Demerol
  •     OxyContin
  •     Fentanyl
  •     Adderall
  •     Ritalin

These drugs are often considered to be highly abused as they are often sold and distributed illegally. Those that are prescribed these drugs can still be charged if they use or dispose of the drug without proper approval from police or medical professionals.

most addictive drugs

Schedule III Drugs/Substances

Schedule III drugs are considered to have a mild to the moderate possibility of developing a psychological or physical dependence. The potential for abuse is considered to be less than Schedule I and Schedule II substances. 

Common Schedule III drugs include:

  •     Tylenol
  •     Codeine
  •     Ketamine
  •     Testosterone
  •     Steroids

Schedule III drugs are often prescribed and not bought over the counter at local pharmacies even though the potential for abuse is possible. Reading proper directions and seeking out proper medical support is important to avoid the possibility of abuse.

Schedule IV and V Drugs/Substances

Schedule IV and V drugs have a low to minimal potential for developing dependence and for potential abuse. They are often used to manage the common cold, diarrhea, flu, headaches, and other aches and pains. Some Psychological medications that manage anxiety and depression are also considered to be schedule IV and V. Common Schedule IV and V substances include:

  •     Robitussin
  •     Xanax
  •     Valium
  •     Ativan
  •     Lyrica

What is Psychological and Physical Dependence?

A common concern for all scheduled drugs and substances is the potential to develop psychological and physical dependence. Psychological dependence symptoms may include cravings, depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, memory problems, hallucinations, delusions, and the development of severe and persistent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, derealization/depersonalization, agoraphobia, major depression disorder, panic disorder, etc. 

Physical dependence can be highly dangerous as the body becomes dependent upon the substance to function properly. Because of the prolonged use of the drug, the body may not function well or at all without the substance and can lead to loss of memory, damage of nerves, heart and lung problems, cancer, and death. 

Are Scheduled Drugs Used Often?

Yes. Scheduled drugs are used very often and by younger groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7 out of 10 adults over the age of 40 were prescribed one or more substances in the previous month in the United States. Additionally, 1 out of 5 adults used five or more prescription drugs in the last month. These numbers are larger than many other countries including our Canadian neighbors. Street drugs are commonly abused as well. 

The CDC indicates approximately 11% of Americans over the age of 12 have used illicit drugs considered to be part of schedule I or schedule II drugs in the last month. About 2% report no medical reasons for use.

most abused substances

How can AspenRidge AspenRidge Virtual Care Help?

Regardless of the substance, any drug whether legal or illicit carries the potential for abuse. The health effects and psychological damages that stem from substance dependency usually vary for each person. If you or a loved one is battling ongoing substance abuse, it’s critical to contact a provider that can help address substance abuse, as well as any underlying mental health concerns that may prevent long-term recovery. Having access to the right type of care is vital to overcoming the disease of addiction. Through online alcohol and drug programs, more families can find the care they need without the hurdles of in-person treatment options.

By integrating telehealth strategies with existing evidence-based treatment modalities of in-person outpatient programs, the outcomes appear favorable. In addition, online therapy, like AspenRidge AspenRidge Virtual Care, can provide group therapy that helps individuals through sober communities. AspenRidge AspenRidge Virtual Care offers two comprehensive online substance abuse treatment programs focused on addressing mental health concerns like shame and treatment of substance use disorders to help individuals and families live healthier lives.

Our programs include:

What to expect from online addiction treatment

Online programs are designed to educate and empower people to make healthier decisions. We combine evidence-based programming like recovery coaching, skillset training, relapse prevention assistance, addressing underlying mental health concerns, individual therapy, family sessions, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychiatry and recovery support services, and much more.

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, deeply seeded shame may be exacerbating the issue. Finding proper therapy and access to treatment is crucial. At AspenRidge AspenRidge Virtual Care, we understand that every situation is unique. Your therapist will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan specific to your needs. Don’t wait, and contact our 24/7 support center directly at 720-650-8055.