Most addictive drugs and why they're addicting

There are a lot of addictive drugs out there, so we’ve broken them down for you with our top-ten list of the most addictive substances. Don’t be fooled by prescription drugs — these are addictive too.
Drugs can create physical, psychological or psychosocial addictions. Physical addictions are a body dependency that results in withdrawal symptoms that often get you back into taking the drug. Psychological addictions are mental and make you think you need the drug. Psychosocial addictions are emotional and social — you take drugs because of peer pressure, comfort or to deal with stress.
Tobacco (Nicotine)
What is the history of tobacco?
* Native Americans and First Nations peoples traditionally used tobacco in ceremonies and prayers. During the arrival of settlers, tobacco became a widely sought after export and remains a large part of contemporary Western culture despite its health risks.
What makes tobacco addictive?
* Tobacco addiction is very individual and often compulsive. It can be both physical and/or psychosocial.
* Physical addiction reinforces you to continue smoking to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
* Psychosocial addiction means you smoke as a form of comfort to deal with anxiety, anger or stress, or that you smoke because of peer pressure.
* Addiction to tobacco often takes weeks or months, but the younger you start, the more likely you are to become addicted.
Crack Cocaine (Methylbenzoylecgonine)
What is the history of crack?
* When cocaine prices started dropping in the mid-1980s, dealers turned the powder into crack, so it could be sold in smaller dosages to more people. Crack spread throughout inner-city neighborhoods of New York, Los Angeles and Miami between 1984 and 1990 and left a major epidemic of addiction, theft, homelessness and murder in its wake.
What makes crack addictive?
* Crack inhibits the way your brain processes chemicals that give you sensations of pleasure. The more you use it, the more you need to feel normal.
* Crack is a serious physical addiction, because you feel like you can’t live without it. You lose interest in anything else in your life, even favorite activities and friends.

Ice/Glass (Smoked Methamphetamine)

What is the history of ice/glass?
* Ice/glass is a smoked form of methamphetamine. Eerily enough, methamphetamine has its roots in war. It was first discovered in 1894 when Japanese chemist Nagayoshi Nagai synthesized it from ephedrine. During World War II, it was given to German pilots and tank crews in the form of chocolate to give them a perk and diminish fatigue or depression.
What makes ice/glass addictive?
* Ice/glass is addictive because meth itself is so addictive. Meth is cheap, quick, and gives you a high for several hours or sometimes days that increases your sex drive and gives you feelings of invincibility.
* Ice/glass is a prolific form of meth because smoking it creates a quick high, and it is also easy to hide and travel with.
* Ice/glass can be almost immediately addictive because of the intense high.
What is the history of crystal meth?
* Crystal meth is an injected form of methamphetamine, described in #3.
What makes crystal meth addictive?
* Crystal meth also makes you feel sexually free, empowered and focused. It can keep you awake for many hours or days at a time.
* Crystal meth is even faster acting than ice/glass, but it isn’t as common, because it requires needles and other equipment like tubing.
* Crystal meth is also likely to cause almost immediate addiction.
Oxycodone (OxyContin, Perocet, Tylox, Percodan)
What is the history of oxycodone?
* Although Freund and Spreyer of the University of Frankfurt synthesized oxycodone back in 1916, more common use began when Bayer pushed it as a dependence-free pain relief solution after the company had been forced to stop producing morphine and heroin. It is now used in pharmaceutical drugs including OxyContin, Percocet (also includes paracetamol) and Percodan (also includes aspirin).
What makes oxycodone addictive?
* Oxycodone can cause you both a physical and psychological dependence under the guise of pharmaceutical drugs.
* Oxycodone’s relieves pain and cough, so psychological dependence is often related to your own sense of pain.
* Prolonged use is usually needed to get addicted, because your tolerance level adjusts to larger dosages.
Heroin (Dacetylmorphine)
What is the history of heroin?
* The German pharmaceutical company Bayer synthesized Heroin from opium poppy–which has been cultivated since 3400BC–in the late 1800s. They pitched the drug as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough remedy, but later learned that it metabolized into morphine once taken.
What makes heroin addictive?
* Heroin goes straight from the bloodstream to the brain and toys with your ability to feel pleasure.
* Like cocaine, heroin makes you physically dependent on the drug in order to feel normal or have any good feelings.
* After long-term use, you can’t experience any positive feelings at all, and you take heroin just to avoid negative feelings.
* You can easily get addicted to heroin after just one use.

Valium (Diazepam)

What is the history of valium?
* Valium, initially marketed by Sternbach in 1963, was the top selling pharmaceutical in the US from 1968 to 1982. Valium is now more commonly known as Diazepam. It is used for the treatment of sleep disorders, depression, alcohol withdrawal and bipolar disorder.
* Valium, initially marketed by Sternbach in 1963, was the top selling pharmaceutical in the US from 1968 to 1982. Valium is now more commonly known as Diazepam. It is used for the treatment of sleep disorders, depression, alcohol withdrawal and bipolar disorder.
What makes valium addictive?
* Valium has a high likelihood to cause you a physical and/or psychological addiction, because it can relieve your pain and relax you to the point of inducing sleep.
* Valium usually takes more than one dosage to become addicted, but your body can grow reliant on the drug in as little as a week with regular doses.
* Addiction can also cause rages and violence, as well as insomnia, because your body isn’t getting the deep sleep it needs. This usually means you feel you need more of the drug to sleep better, when it’s really the cause of the problem.

Quaalude (Methaqualone)

What is the history of quaalude?
* Quaalude originated as a synthesized anti-malaria drug by M.I. Gujral in India in 1956. It quickly became a recreational drug in the mid-1960s when it was introduced to Japan and Europe as sedative medicine. It can be taken as a tablet or smoked.
What makes quaalude addictive?
* Quaalude is a sedative that affects the central nervous system and causes primarily physical and psychological addiction.
* Quaalude can also cause psychosocial addiction, since it’s largely popular with college students who achieve a high by taking the drug to stay awake.
* Since Quaalude is hypnotic and causes light sedation, euphoria, and sleep, it’s usually taken in small dosages that are seen as harmless, but it can cause extreme mental confusion and leads to seizure and death in high doses.

Seconal (Secrobarbital)

What is the history of seconal?
* Eli Lily marketed Seconal as a sedative after it was synthesized in 1928. Seconal, in addition to being a relaxant, is anesthetic, anticonvulsant and hypnotic. It’s usually used to treat epilepsy, insomnia and given as an anaesthetic in surgery, but it has also been used for depression.
What makes seconal addictive?
* Seconal, like other pharmaceuticals that affect the central nervous system, can cause a physical and psychological addiction. Seconal works by slowing down the brain, which relieves anxiety and makes you sleepy.
* Seconal gives you fairly immediate withdrawal symptoms, which instigates a physical addiction.
* You will also develop a psychological addiction if you feel that you can’t sleep well without seconal.
* You can become addicted to seconal in less than a week with daily use.
Alcohol
What is the history of alcohol?
* Alcohol has been around for a long time. As far as we know, Muslim chemists were the first to create distilled alcohol, but chemical traces of alcohol have been discovered on pots in Northern China that date back more than 9,000 years. Today, alcohol is prolific across the world and used for recreation and medicine.
What makes alcohol addictive?
* Alcohol addiction is usually psychosocial but can also be psychological and becomes physical with long-term drinking.
* Addiction to alcohol is broken down into an early stage, middle stage and end stage, each with their varying characteristics and risks.
* Alcohol isn’t necessarily immediately addicting unless you have other issues that make you seek alcohol for comfort, but it’s hard to detect an addiction. While you might think you’re not addicted, your body is actually growing an addiction by becoming tolerant to how much you drink.

Other addictive drugs include amphetamine (speed), other forms of cocaine, caffeine, PCP (angeldust), cannabis (marijuana), ecstasy, LSD, mushrooms, mescaline and methadone. All of these drugs have a high potential to cause an addiction based on your life circumstances.
Copyright © 2009, Tribune Interactive

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