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Drug use is a major problem for millions of Americans, especially for our veterans. According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, veterans are twice as likely as the general population to die from an opioid-related overdose. This is especially worrisome considering in 2019, 70,630 people died in the United States from a drug overdose. With drug use among veterans continuing to rise, the question, many are beginning to wonder, what is the most addictive drug?

While all drugs can be addictive, not all are created equal. Determining what the most addictive drug is comes down to several different factors. These include how the drug interacts with the brain, how readily available it is, and how often someone uses it. Below are the top five most addictive drugs, along with where veterans can get help for substance abuse.

The Most Addictive Drug: Heroin

Heroin is considered by many to be the most addictive substance on earth. Commonly referred to as H, Dope, Smack, and many other street names, heroin is a highly addictive, fast-acting opioid. Due to its highly addictive nature, heroin is the most commonly abused opioid in America, even surpassing prescription pain killers.

Opioids are a type of drug that are known to relieve pain and provide users with a euphoric-like high known as a “rush.” Like other opioids, heroin activates your brain’s reward system. By tricking the brain into halting the production of “feel-good chemicals” (dopamine) on its own, people who use heroin quickly develop a severe physical dependence on the drug. This is why heroin users experience intense drug cravings when the drug is stopped.


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Heroin is most often injected directly into the veins, but can also be snorted or smoked, which both result in a fast, intense high.

Another form of heroin, found in the form of a black, sticky substance known as “black tar heroin” is also commonly abused, and is thought to be even more addictive than heroin.

#2 Most Addictive Drug: Cocaine

#2 Most Addictive Drug: Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive, habit-forming drug that is considered by many to be the most addictive drug. This is especially true for veterans. In 2018, more than 235,000 veterans (around two percent), reported using cocaine in the past year.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that creates an intense high that can be felt within minutes of use. It is most commonly used by snorting or sniffing the powder, although it can also be smoked or injected. Someone who uses cocaine may feel increased levels of energy, excitement, and alertness. This is because cocaine floods the brain with dopamine, creating a short-lived, extreme high.

Crack cocaine is a modified type of cocaine that is thought to be even more addictive than its powdered counterpart. Crack cocaine is a crystallized version of powdered cocaine that is made by mixing powdered cocaine with things like baking soda and heating it until it becomes solid. This process results in what many refer to as the “most pure” form of cocaine possible.

Due to its readily available status, crack cocaine is thought to be a top contender for the most addictive drug found on the streets.

#3: Barbiturates

Barbiturates are a class of drugs that were used extensively in the 1960s and 1970s as a treatment for anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. While barbiturates have largely been replaced by benzodiazepines, which are less addictive, they remain a very popular street drug. Barbiturates are still prescribed today, although not nearly to the extent they were in the past, for a small number of conditions.

Barbiturates are known as central nervous system depressants. They enhance the action of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits the activity of nerve cells in the brain. Because of this, barbiturates are not only highly addictive but also incredibly dangerous. Barbiturates can be extremely dangerous because the correct dose is difficult to predict. Even a slight overdose can cause coma or death. Due to this, barbiturates have been classified as the most addictive drug available via prescription.

Barbiturates can be injected into the veins or muscles, but they are usually taken in pill form. The street names of commonly abused barbiturates describe the desired effect of the drug or the color and markings on the actual pill.

#4: Nicotine

A surprising candidate for the most addictive drug is nicotine. While the immediate dangers of nicotine are not nearly as prevalent as heroin or cocaine, the long-term effects of nicotine use are very real.

Due to its legal status and easy availability, it is extremely easy to become addicted to nicotine. For veterans, nicotine use typically starts during service, as products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco are readily available for active-duty personnel. According to the U.S Department of Defense (DoD), nearly 15% of active-duty military personnel use tobacco products.

Prolonged nicotine use, particularly tobacco, can lead to many health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several cancers. In 2019, lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death, accounting for nearly 140,00 deaths.

#5: Alcohol

When you think of the most addictive drug, one that may not immediately come to mind is alcohol. Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among veterans. In a 2017 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 65% of veterans who entered a treatment program reported alcohol as the substance they most frequently abuse.

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it makes you feel more relaxed, at ease, and joyful. Due to its legal status and social use, it is extremely easy to develop an alcohol addiction. Some estimates suggest that nearly 15% of veterans struggle with an alcohol use disorder, which is almost three times the U.S average for civilians.

Quitting alcohol use is no small ordeal. Alcohol withdrawal is among the most severe of all drug withdrawals and can even be deadly in some instances.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to any drug, legal or illegal, it’s important to get help before it’s too late.

Veteran Drug and Alcohol Treatment in DeLand, Florida

Veteran Drug and Alcohol Treatment in DeLand, Florida

At Heroes’ Mile, located in DeLand, Florida, we understand that drug use among veterans is a serious issue. We also understand that many of our brave servicemen and women may find it difficult to seek help, as the issues they deal with are much more complex than what civilians may be experiencing. This can create a situation where veterans who need help struggle to find the care they need.

That’s why at Heroes’ Mile, we make it our mission to provide veterans with the treatment they deserve, by other veterans who know exactly where they’ve been and what they’re dealing with. Our treatment facility is made for veterans and has been created by vets who know exactly what it’s like to serve firsthand. We understand that veterans need a place to recover where they not only feel safe but are surrounded by others who share in their life experiences.

Along with a medically supervised drug and alcohol detox, some of our comprehensive treatment options include:

If you or someone you know is battling a drug or alcohol addiction, the time to get help is now. If you have more questions about what the most addictive drug is, or if you’d like to learn more about our treatment options, give us a call today at 888-838-6692. You can also contact us online by using our confidential contact form. At Heroes’ Mile in DeLand, Florida, we make it our mission to ensure that our veterans receive the care they deserve, from people who truly appreciate their service.


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