What are the most addictive drugs commonly abused today, and how severe are their effects?

There are so many drugs today out there, some of which we use every day and think are normal may perhaps be dangerously addictive. knowing this in advance may just save a life. Not all addicts get into the habit knowingly but normally, when they depend on some drug (which in the beginning may have been appropriately prescribed to them by a doctor) and they continue to use this drug beyond the doctor’s prescription (for purposes of pain relief or so), they eventually and unintentionally get addicted to the same.

What are some of these common drugs, how long can it take for someone using to get addicted to them and what are the possible severe outcomes of their addictions? Thanks for your opinions!

~ Pauline.

Regular User Asked on October 26, 2018 in Drugs.
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5 Answer(s)

Hello Pauline,

There are quite so many drugs that are abused today, and each of them affect people in different ways, one sure way is that each ultimately results into death. There are several exclusive reports and recorded incidences about almost each and every abusable drug resulting into several deaths. The leading four are:


When it comes to substance use in the United States, alcohol is by and large the worst offender, with 17.3 million heavy alcohol users recorded in 2015 alone. According to Kana Enomoto, the principal deputy administrator of SAMHSA, 3 out of every 4 cases of substance use disorders in the U.S. involve alcohol.

Because alcohol is a legal — and socially acceptable — substance, many people feel a false sense of security when using it. However, it’s important to keep in mind that alcohol is extremely addictive, and irresponsible consumption comes with physical and mental health consequences. Some of the short-term, negative effects of alcohol use include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Distorted vision and hearing
  • Impaired judgement
  • Blackouts

These side effects don’t just impact the people consuming alcohol — they can also put other lives in danger, especially if users drive while under the influence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drunk-driving crashes accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States in 2015.


Rates of marijuana use have increased sharply in recent years as the drug is legalized for recreational and medicinal purposes in several states. More people reported consuming marijuana in 2015 than during any single year between 2002 and 2013. While marijuana use is slowly becoming more accepted, it’s important to keep in mind the possible mental and physical consequences of frequent, heavy use. Of the 22.2 million Americans who were current users of marijuana in 2015, 4 million had a marijuana use disorder.

While conventional forms of marijuana are hazardous and potentially addictive, a new and particularly dangerous form of the drug has recently entered into common circulation — edibles. From gummy bears to brownies, these seemingly innocuous concoctions pose a broad range of risks that smokable varieties don’t. While the high from smoking marijuana lasts about two hours, a high from edibles may last anywhere from six to 10 hours. When taken in large doses, edibles can cause:

  • Anxiety attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Respiratory insufficiency, especially in young children

Prescription Opioids

Opioids are a family of drugs that produce sedative, pain-relieving effects. While street varieties like heroin, fentanyl and gray death are becoming more common, prescription counterparts like oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine are more widely abused. Most people start taking these drugs after they are prescribed for an injury or chronic pain. Unfortunately, what often starts as the safe, responsible use of a prescription medication can quickly turn into a full-fledged addiction if a person takes more medication than prescribed over an extended period of time. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 3.8 million people in the United States abuse prescription pain relievers.

Ohio is at the center of the country’s opioid epidemic, likely due to high rates of prescription drug use in the state. In 2016 alone, 631 million opioid pills were prescribed in Ohio. While these drugs may be a useful way for some to deal with pain in the short-term, long-term abuse and dependence can lead to:

  • Chronic nausea
  • Constipation
  • Liver damage
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Overdose


In 2015, an estimated 1.9 million individuals over the age of 12 were current users of cocaine, one of the most addictive drugs in the world. Usually available as a white powder or solidified, rock-like substance, cocaine can be snorted, smoked and injected. Once ingested, this substance stimulates the user’s brain, causing them to experience a rush of euphoria and energy. These feelings may also be accompanied by elevated mood and an inflated, grandiose sense of self-esteem. Once the high subsides, users may experience an unpleasant crash, often accompanied by the following side effects:

  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Vertigo
  • Increased heart rate
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Raised body temperature

Even short-term use of cocaine is dangerous because of the drug’s highly addictive nature. What began as experimentation can quickly spiral into addiction and or overdose. Cocaine overdose can result in cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, stroke or even death. In 2011 alone, more than 4,500 people died from cocaine overdose.

There are several more, but these are the most dangerous and widely used drugs. Thanks for the question!

Moderator Answered on October 29, 2018.
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Hey Guys. Do you remember the 60s and 70s with heroin and some opium ? What about the 80s and 90s with crack cocaine and heroin ? What about the 2000s and 10s with pain pills and heroin ? I think it is all a trend and what is mostly widely available to users. But there is one drug always mentioned, it is heroin. Heroin has been the most commonly used drugs for decade. I won’t include pot because it is not a “hard” drug like the others. Now we see the synthetic drugs from China like Fentanyl. I think all drugs are very addictive and some are more dangerous than others.

To get addicted to drugs or any addiction, it just takes one time…………………..and we are hooked for life. We all know that the most severe outcome to addiction is death. Just look at the stats: 72,000 deaths from drug overdose in 2017.  Horrific !!!

Super User Answered on November 1, 2018.
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Indeed, Horrific, turns out that Heroin is one of the 10 most dangerous (deadly) drugs there’s in the world. I think one of the reasons why its deadly is because of its relief-inducing effect and addictive power. Heroin is highly addictive and people who use it can become dependent and experience cravings. Initial effects include feelings of well-being and relief from physical pain. Over time, one won’t function until they use and the amount needed to keep up with normal operation increases with time.

Heroin is mainly a central nervous system depressant. This means it slows down a person’s brain function and affects their breathing (which can slow down or even stop). The person’s body temperature and blood pressure drop, and their heartbeat can become irregular. The person may lose consciousness or lapse into a coma. A physician or friends can give the medication naloxone to reverse the effects of heroin, but in most cases, by the time help is availed, its already too late. So many, as Olivier noted above have lost their lives to Heroin. Stay away!!

Moderator Answered on November 1, 2018.
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Thanks all for the contributions. Somewhere Moderator mentions Heroin among prescription opioids, I just need to know because its a bit confusing, is Heroin “strictly” illegal or can it be prescribed in pharmacies and Hospitals?

Regular User Answered on November 1, 2018.
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In the US, Heroin is strictly illegal and its not prescribed for use in any hospital. However, as mentioned in my answer above, it is also classified among prescription opioids which is a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Other less addictive variants such as:

  • hydrocodone (Vicodin®) oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®)
  • codeine
  • fentanyl

Are allowed to be used only with proper prescription from a doctor.

Prescription opioids and heroin are chemically similar and can produce a similar high. In some places, heroin is cheaper and easier to get than prescription opioids, so some people switch to using heroin instead. Nearly 80 percent of Americans using heroin (including those in treatment) reported misusing prescription opioids prior to using heroin.

However, while prescription opioid misuse is a risk factor for starting heroin use, only a small fraction of people who misuse pain relievers switch to heroin. This suggests that prescription opioid misuse is just one factor leading to heroin use. Read more about this intertwined problem in this article Prescription Opioids and Heroin Research Report.

Moderator Answered on November 8, 2018.
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