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Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: Which Drug Is Most Addictive?

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Sara Bellum

On Drug Facts Chat Day, we get thousands of questions about drugs from high school students all over the country. Today, we’re taking one from Casa Grande Union High School in Arizona:

"Which drug is most addictive?"

Let’s start with this basic truth—although some drugs are stronger or more powerful than others, all drugs are potentially dangerous. Each has a way of tapping into your brain’s pleasure circuitry and altering your physical or emotional state. And this means that any of them can lead to abuse and addiction.

But what makes one drug more addictive than another has to do with a person’s environment (like stress, or friends who use drugs), the type of drug, and how much it’s used—even genes have a role in whether or not someone becomes addicted.

Scientists have already identified a particular gene that makes some people more likely to become addicted to nicotine, the drug found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. All these factors affect the individual person in different ways, which is why everyone’s experience with drug addiction is unique.

Even so, some of the most intoxicating drugs out there will take fewer doses over a shorter period of time for many people to become addicted. This includes cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin.

And a high dose of a weaker drug taken more often over the same period of time could lead to addiction for some people as well. It’s a hard call to make in advance.

Visit our Web site for more information on drugs of abuse and addiction.

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Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Nicotine was mentioned but not settled upon. What drug is more addicting than heroin?? Nicotine! Don't smoke! :)

great site....keep up the good work...and parents...set the example and stop smoking.

It's so true, all drugs are POTENTIALLY dangerous, even alcohol. Cars are always potentially dangerous, too. But that doesn't mean they always cause harm, does it?

Isn't the drug "tapping into my pleasure circuitry" what makes the drug feel good? And isn't that the same pleasure circuitry that gets tapped into when I eat good food?

@Geordi Yes, you’re right—eating good food does tap into our brain’s pleasure circuitry. In fact, our brains are wired for pleasure as a means of survival—like we enjoy eating food when we’re hungry, and we also need it to live. With drugs, though, the same brain circuits we need for survival can go haywire and make some people crave more and more of the good feeling they got from the drugs, until eventually, all they think about is getting high, even if it means giving up stuff they used to love. That is the essence of addiction. Not everyone gets addicted, of course, but it’s hard to say who will and who won’t. Not worth the risk.

All drugs are addicting. Chocolate is addicting. Addiction is impart a way of thinking. Many people die each year due to drugs, alcohol, and yes overindulgence. If you are ever in a spot in your life that you feel you want to try drugs or alcohol or even robotripping research what it does to your physical body and brain. For example, huffing kills over a million brain cells with each inhalation. You can die the 1st time you do it. You can die from over the counter drug abuse as well or by taking too many prescription drugs. Doing acid makes your brain bleed. Research why you get a high feeling you will find it usually due to dieing brain cells or lack of oxygen to the brain.

I will say this, there are two type of addictions, physical and mental, Heroin is physical and nicotine is mental. You can go cold turkey off cigarettes in the right frame of mind without any pain but giving up heroin is a physical battle.

@big kid @big kid—you’re right, heroin is really addictive and hard to quit. But so are cigarettes. Some people believe they are as hard to quit as heroin. That’s because some people get so physically addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes that they have bad withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit—like irritability, craving, depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate, sleep disturbances, etc. Luckily, there are therapies, like nicotine patches and gum, that can help. Certain medications (like Chantix and Wellbutrin) can also help people get through the rough times and avoid starting up again. It really depends on the person and their level of addiction. So maybe some people can go “cold turkey” off cigarettes, but for others, it really is painful. But still, very worth it. I would link to this site: for more info.

thanx for spreading awareness because a lot of people in mumbai are abusing drugs, alcohol and they are not even scared to do it on the streets

Thank you - in our TEACH program we teach young people to go to college clean and sober in a community here in Newport Beach Ca. of 215

The more a drug is artificially made, like many of phsychiatric drugs, the more addictive it becomes. Marijuana is less addictive though leads to mental desire for more.

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Wich drug are most addictive. Will all drug are very addictive specially when use regularly. So its better to stay away from it.

no doubt cigarettes

I think that METH is the most addictive. NO DAH

In my opinion any cigarettes, alchohol and any drug is bad for you .

I just want to say that the person named Mimi is terribly misinformed. Acid does not make your brain bbkeed.

Yes, Acid does NOT make your brain bleed. Getting high is not always caused by lack of oxygen to the brain or brain cells dying. Most of the time it has to do with reward pathways in the brain (specifically, the mesolimbic pathway). Your brain has receptors, you take a drug, the brain responds--usually by producing more of the neurotransmitter dopamine, or in the case of Acid, norepinephrine and serotonin as well--and acts on the receptors. The body produces its own kill pain, to increase energy/alertness, induce pleasure, etc. Drugs either inhibit or stimulate production of these chemicals which either keep the reward receptors filled by preventing release, or they simply flood the receptors, draining the brain's natural reserves.

The fact is that drugs themselves are not always harmful. It is the addictive aspects and intoxicating effects that make them the most harmful. Heroin does very little damage on a physical level (assuming it's not cut with something crazy or the user isn't mainlining). The way people ruin their lives with Heroin is due to the constant need for the drug. The money spent, the time spent, the energy spent, and the poor decisions made while under the influence account for most of its danger. I believe most comments here are on the same page, but please don't post misinformation, no matter how much you hate drugs.

lovin you is killing me

All of them are bad. It may not get to you now but it will get you. xD <3

The challenge along with using tobacco is the fact that it can be a pain if you are unable to quit the idea permanently. Irregular cigarette smoking is just as a lot a problem as normal smoking cigarettes, along with ...[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

[code removed, per guidelines] Major thanks for the post.Much thanks again. Awesome.

meth and heroin two drugs u never want to even see.

The more a drug is artificially made, like many of phsychiatric drugs, the more addictive it becomes..Thank you – in our TEACH program we teach young people to go to college clean and sober in a community..Thanks for sharing this post with us..
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@Mimi I can see you have a negative view of drug use, which is your opinion, but posting just plain wrong information on a website designed to be helpful is unethical, so I'll attempt to set the record straight. The one statement you did get correct is the fact that Alcohol is very harmful and addictive. As far as "huffing" goes, yes, most inhalants used to get high are extremely harmful, but it depends entirely on what you inhale. Dentists have had their patients "huffing" nitrous oxide for years to no I'll effect. Also, pure dieythl ether (the most common inhalant) is astonishingly safe if used in moderation but also highly addictive. "robotripping" or the consumption of dextromethorphan has been found to be relatively harmless and non addictive (and it treats coughs too ;)) The acid making the brain bleed statement is new to me, I wonder what anti-drug propaganda told you that one? And finally, no the feeling of getting high doesn't come from the lack of oxygen or the death of brain cells, rather it comes from alkaloids that mimic the nueroreceptors in our brains such as serotonin and dopamine.

Robotripping and huffing are not “relatively harmless!”   Check out for more information on inhalants. Or if you don’t trust government sources, check out  The harms of huffing aren’t just a rumor, sadly.

I Think METH is most addictive.
depends on the person and what you are exposed to and what life you lead (social group). from my experience from the people that i have ran into, that heroin has been the most addictive and damaging such that one friend has been to rehab 3 times and hes only 22 and another i have met has been in jail for it for the last 2 years shes only 22. meth is the worst and if you seen any shows on it, it is an instant addiction and is a dangerous chemical compound no one wants to hang out with a meth addict as well, prescription drugs too considering the need to use them as a crutch as well the length that anyone will go to try and score any of these drugs.. cigarettes probably the worst because so readily available and common place not to mention damaging. It really comes down to is if your social group is using drugs and if you are using it to be "normal" as part as a functioning lifestyle. To tell the truth the reason drugs ARE addicting is because people have trouble in their lives whether it is depression, social phobia, abuse, neglect, money troubles, fear, bad coping skills they can't manage their own reality. to fight my own problems in the social world and with the crutch of "addiction" i went to therapy and realized that i have social anxiety, issues i grew up with, a parent that was an addict, and psychosis that most people dont, you can do something that is negative but you will have to pay for the consequences in the long run even if you do it to try to make yourself feel normal or be a part of society. the system will get you if not your failing brain cells, so watch out and be a good legal abiding citizen for the greater good!

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