No matter your drug of choice, trying to quit can be excruciatingly difficult for an addict. In addition to withdrawal symptoms, dealing with the emotional demons and stressors that led you down the road to addiction pose daily challenges. But, there are some drugs that are physically more difficult for a hooked individual to kick. Addiction and recovery website The Fix recently reported on a study done by David Nutt at London’s Imperial College that determined which drugs are most difficult for addicts to quit. Below is the ranking compiled by Nutt and his team of researchers. Tell us: Do you agree or disagree with Nutt’s findings? And do you think there’s more to this type of ranking than just accounting for the physical effects of different drugs?
1.) Heroin – Long-held to be the most highly addictive drug available, heroin is an opiate that mimics endorphins and has a high fat solubility that helps it reach the brain quickly. According to the National Institute of Drug Addiction, nearly a quarter (23%) of people who ever tried heroin – even once – eventually became addicted.
2.) Crack cocaine – Smoking processed cocaine has more severe effect than snorting the powdered variety and causes a faster, higher rush that lasts for a short period of time – leading to the need for higher quantities more frequently.
3.) Nicotine – The 50 million nicotine addicts in the U.S. would surely agree with this. Sadly, one in five deaths nationwide is linked to smoking.
4.) Methadone – Used to treat heroin addiction in a clinical setting, methadone is highly addictive. Someone can tell he or she is addicted to it when the person feels unaffected by it and its euphoric effects.
5.) Crystal Meth – Scarily, crystal meth initiates both award and alertness chemicals in the brain, causing highs and training your brain to want the drug more. It also impairs critical neurons, leading to a decrease in productivity and a need for increased amounts of the drug to capture the high.
6.) Alcohol – Although the estimated 17.9 million number of alcoholics in the U.S. seems like small potatoes compared to nicotine users, alcohol is an incredibly difficult drug to quit – due in large part to its availability and frequent use in social settings – and causes severe withdrawal symptoms that can lead to death.
7.) Cocaine – By preventing the reabsorption of dopamine in the brain’s reward areas, cocaine reduces the number of receptors, making you crave the drug’s high.
8.) Amphetamines – Regular amphetamine use has an effect similar to meth and addicts who attempt to quit often feel anxiety, depression and fatigue that inspires them to pick to drug up again to increase productivity again. Of even more concern: Amphetamines often come in the form of prescription drugs, like Adderall, and are easily accessible.
9.) Benzodiazepines – More commonly known as anti-anxiety drugs – like Xanax – Benzodiazepines reduce stress in users. People addicted to these drugs quickly build a tolerance that leads to increased use.
10.) GHB – Typically known as a “club drug,” GHB has a cross-effect with alcohol that increases tolerance and requires the user to take more, setting off a vicious cycle. Withdrawal from the drug induces vomiting, insomnia, anxiety and dizziness that often sends the user right back to take more.