For those struggling with substance abuse, it may seem as if there is no way out of the addiction. Some of the most addictive substances leave a person’s life surrounded by the mayhem that takes away what used to make them who they were and potentially take their life.
With overdose and addiction rates rapidly increasing throughout the country, there are many treatment resources available that will aid in the process of recovery from substance dependency and provide the tools necessary to live a new life. Let’s take a look at the some of the most addictive substances out there and what makes them so addictive.
Also known as speed, amphetamines stimulate the central nervous system (CNS), giving users a burst of energy or excitability. They cause the release of a chemical called catecholamine, particularly dopamine. The effects of amphetamines are strong. They produce pleasure sensations in the brain’s “reward pathway”, which contributes to the addictive quality of amphetamines. Tolerance builds rapidly, requiring addicts to constantly increase their dosage, which brings on psychotic episodes. Commonly used amphetamines include Adderall, Ritalin, and other ADD and ADHD medications.
Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax are typically prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and other conditions. Though they work well for their intended uses, benzos, as they are commonly called, are highly addictive. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse determined that benzodiazepines have a short half-life, causing abusers to develop a quick and dangerous tolerance. This tolerance build up can happen in as little as six weeks, potentially leading to an addiction in almost no time.
Methadone is a synthetic opiate that blocks the effects of heroin and other prescription drugs containing opiates. It is highly powerful and is commonly prescribed to treat heroin addiction. The problem with methadone, however, is that it is considered more addictive than heroin, and is even harder to detox from.
Nicotine, most often seen in tobacco products like cigarettes, acts in much the same way that most addictive drugs do by mimicking an acetylcholine receptor in the brain, while reducing the number of receptors that the brain produces. Studies have actually shown that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.
When it comes to alcohol, many people do not necessarily view it in the same light as other drugs because it is legal and more socially accepted. However, alcohol can be a huge issue because it acts as a central nervous system depressant. This means that it relaxes, reduces anxiety, and even loosens inhibitions, as well as hampering the user’s ability to make proper judgments and perform motor movements. When you consume alcohol, the brain releases dopamine and endorphins, which produce feelings of satisfaction and eliminate feelings of pain. Over time, your body will need more and more alcohol in order to satisfy the brain in this same way, which leads to an addiction.
Cocaine is a stimulant drug. It causes dangerous physical effects such as rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure. It’s extremely addictive due to its short half-life and method of action. While high, cocaine keeps a steady stream of dopamine in the brain. When withdrawal sets in though, the brain starts to crave the lost dopamine the drug once provided, making it extremely hard to recover from.
Crack is a lower key version of cocaine. It is made from a mixture of baking soda and powder cocaine. The key difference between crack and cocaine is that crack is smoked. This method of ingestion allows the drug to seep into lung tissues, producing completely different results than seen in cocaine usage. Smoking crack causes the high to be much faster and more intense than the high traditionally felt from powder cocaine. Crack’s high is extremely short, causing the user to crave a large amount of the drug to continue the high feeling.
Heroin is largely considered the most addictive drug in the world. In fact, studies have shown that just one dose of heroin can put a person on the fast track to addiction. It’s estimated that nearly 25% of all people who try heroin at least one time will become addicted. Heroin causes euphoria, eases pain, and numbs the brain and body by acting on an area of nerve cells within the central part of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. This makes it one of the most popular drugs to abuse.
MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that affects neurotransmitter systems in the brain. Studies have shown that MDMA damages serotonin-containing neurons, and sometimes the damage is long-lasting.
OxyContin, the brand name for oxycodone, is a potent synthetic opiate. Similar to heroin, OxyContin produces a euphoric high that is caused by stimulation of the brain’s reward center. OxyContin elevates levels of dopamine, the pleasure chemical of the brain, yet in order to keep these feel-good chemicals elevated in the brain, more and more of the drug is required.
Overcoming Substance Abuse
With its very complex nature, it takes time to be able to process and understand the underlying issues that cause and result in a person’s addiction. Highly addictive substances take over and leave a person with the decision to either accept the help available to reach long-term recovery or leave their fate in the hands of that substance. Once mentally and physically dependent on a substance, almost every area of a person’s life will change, and certainly not for the better. But help is available.
Not one addiction is exactly the same as the next and solutions to the problem can differ as well. This is why individualized treatment is so important. To prevail over substance abuse, it is essential to undergo the necessary treatment offered and learn how to live a life free from substances. On the other side of substance abuse treatment, there is a fresh start and a more meaningful life.
Are You in Need of Substance Abuse Treatment?
Do not allow your addiction to define you any longer. At Sunlight Recovery, we will show you how to obtain a fresh start for your life and guide you along your journey to recovery. If you or a loved one are suffering with an addiction, choose life today and contact us at 844-299-0618. Our compassionate team of counselors are standing by 24/7 to take your call.