5 addictive substances and their dramatic effects on the brain

What are the most dangerous addictive substances? The question seems simple, but the answer always depends on the person to whom it is addressed.

From the point of view of different researchers, the addictive potential of a drug (to generate addiction) can be judged according to the injuries it produces, the street value of the drug, the extent to which the drug activates the dopamine system of the brain , how much pleasure it causes, the degree to which it causes withdrawal symptoms, and how easily the person trying the substance will become addicted.

There are other facets of measuring the drug addiction potential and there are even researchers who claim that there is no drug that always adds to addiction . Data finds varied views of researchers, a way to make a classification of addictive drugs is to subject them to the judgment of a panel of experts.

In 2007, David Nut and his colleagues asked their drug addicts to make such a ranking and found very interesting things.

1. Addictive substances: Heroin

addictive substances

Here’s the first example on our list of addictive substances. Experts classified heroin as the most addictive drug, giving it the maximum mark, ie 3.

Heroin is an opioid that causes up to 200% brain dopamine levels in experimental animals.Besides being the most addictive drug, heroin is also dangerous because the dose that can cause death is only five times the dose required to be high .

Heroin has also been classified as the second drug in terms of injuries to the consumer and society. The market for illegal opiates, including heroin, was estimated at $ 68 billion globally.

2. Cocaine

addictive substances

Cocaine is one of the most dangerous addictive substances. It directly disrupts the way the brain uses dopamine to transmit information from one neuron to another.

Essentially, cocaine prevents neurons from stopping the signal for dopamine, which leads to abnormal brain function. In animal experiments, cocaine has caused more than three times the normal levels of dopamine.

It is estimated that between 14 and 20 million people worldwide use cocaine and the cocaine market is worth about 75 billion dollars.

Not all these addictive substances are forbidden by law.

Cocaine “crack” (smoked) is considered by experts to be the third drug in terms of injuries and cocaine powder, which causes a higher light, is considered to be the fifth substance on this list.

About 21% of people who try cocaine will become addicted to this substance at some point in their lives. Cocaine is similar to other addictive stimulants, such as methamphetamine – which is becoming a growing problem, as it is more widely available – and amphetamine.

3. Addictive substances: Nicotine

addictive substances


Nicotine is the main addictive ingredient of tobacco. When someone smokes a cigarette, nicotine is quickly absorbed by the lungs and transported to the brain. The Expert Committee put nicotine on the third place as a potential addictive.

More than two-thirds of those who have tried tobacco have reported that they have become addicted throughout their lives. Two decades ago, the World Health Organization estimated that there were more than one billion smokers and estimated that tobacco will kill over 8 million people annually by 2030.

Lab animals have the common sense of not smoking, but the rats press a button to get nicotine directly into the bloodstream – and this makes dopamine levels rise by about 25-40% .

4. Barbituricele


Barbiturates are a class of drugs that were initially used to treat anxiety and induce sleep.These substances disturb the chemical signals in the brain, and the effect is to stop the activity of certain regions in the brain.

In small doses, barbiturates cause euphoria, but in high doses they may be lethal, because they stop breathing. Dependence on these substances was common when drugs could easily be obtained with a prescription, but the number of addicts fell a lot as barbiturates were replaced by other drugs.

This highlights the role of the context in terms of addiction: if a addictive drug is not widely available, it can not do much harm. Experts have classified barbiturates as the fourth substance as a potential additive.

5. Addictive substances: Alcohol


Here is the last example on our list of addictive substances. Although it is legal in many countries of the world, alcohol has been ranked with 1.9 out of a maximum of 3.

Alchohol has many effects on the brain, but in laboratory animal experiments, levels of dopamine in the brain have risen between 40% and 360% – and the more animals drink more, the higher their levels of dopamine.

Statistics show that 22% of those who have tasted alcohol will develop alcohol addiction at some point in their lives. The World Health Organization estimated that 2 billion people drink alcohol a year, over 3 million people due to alcohol-related injuries.

And other experts classify alcohol as the most harmful drug.

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