A Rundown of the Riskiest Substances
Since we were young we’ve been told time and time again that drugs are bad, and to avoid them at all costs. By our teachers, by our parents, family members, and even those motivational and DARE speakers they had come into school. These early attempts may have helped some stay away from trying dangerous drugs but there are millions out there who have experimented with or have become addicted to various substances.
As with anything else, too much is too much, and any mood or mind-altering substances taken in excess can be dangerous to your physical and mental well-being. As we have gotten older and many of us have experimented, it remains clear that some of these substances are far more dangerous than others.
The substances that made this list were judged in three main categories; its risk of abuse, the damage that it causes to one’s self, and the damage that it causes to others. This includes death by accidental overdose, car accidents, crimes fueled by the substance and a few other points. Multiple studies, as well as the personal experience of thousands of addicts and alcoholics, were researched to help us comprise this list.
Killing more Americans in the last few years alone than heroin has in the last ten, this veterinarian-grade tranquilizer has been the main reason for the recent explosion of heroin-related overdoses and deaths. Used as a cutting agent for batches of heroin to reduce cost and increase profit, even a tiny grain of the ingredient in a 10th of a gram of heroin is enough to kill.
The problem is that it is much stronger and works faster than heroin, so for people who experience an overdose, it often takes more than one or two shots of Narcan to resuscitate them if there even is time to try. It has quickly become one of the most dangerous drugs today.
Alcohol has made this list because it has claimed more lives than any other drug on this list. Alcohol is the most widely used and abused “drug” in the world, mainly due to the fact that drinking is so socially acceptable. 7 people die a day due to alcohol poisoning. “In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States” That’s a little over 27 people per day.
This doesn’t even touch the fact that alcohol wreaks absolute havoc on the body. It has been found to be one of the major causes of liver, heart, and throat diseases, along with a slew of others. It causes cirrhosis, high blood pressure, dementia, and the obvious accidental accidents that come along with drunken nights.
Heroin is an opioid painkiller. Having been used as a medicinal cure-all for hundreds of years, it has now become one of the most addictive and life-altering drugs out there. It can be smoked, snorted, and injected. Heroin has taken the United States by storm, in 2014 over 700,000 Americans reported using heroin. That is more than double the number of people that reported using heroin during the previous census in 2006.
The increase in heroin use is directly correlated with the rise in prescription pill abuse. On average, 6 people die every day in the United States from a heroin overdose. Due to the intense physical withdrawal that comes with heroin, addicts are likely to commit crimes like burglary and robbery to help feed their addiction.
There are many different forms of Methamphetamines, including prescription pills like Adderall and Ritalin. The most dangerous form is crystal meth. Crystal meth can be snorted, injected, and smoked. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 1.2 million people reported using methamphetamine in the past year. Meth is often linked to violent crimes due to the effect that the substance has on the brain. Long-term use can cause users to go into a permanent psychosis, and many ex-users still experience severe mood swings, inability to sleep, and trouble with day-to-day problem-solving.
This includes both crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. Cocaine is the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world, thousands of lives are lost each year just to distribute this dangerous drug. Cocaine can be smoked, snorted and injected. Crack cocaine is most typically smoked. It is estimated that 7.5 million people between the ages of 15-34 have tried cocaine. Cocaine is highly addictive and the chances of abuse are very high. There were over 450,000 emergency calls related to cocaine in 2013.
All benzodiazepines work in a similar way but there are differences in the way individual benzodiazepines act on the different GABA-A receptor sub-types. In addition, some benzodiazepines are more potent than others or work for a longer length of time. The most dangerous aspect of benzo’s, however, besides their highly addictive properties, is their dangerous withdrawal side effects. Due to the build-up that they create in the brain, a frequent user is highly recommended to detox in a medical facility as a sudden cessation can cause severe mood swings and even suicidal thoughts.
It stands to be understood that any of the drugs out there, both over the counter or on the corner, can be extremely dangerous, especially when used in large amounts. For those of us who suffer from addiction, we can also count sugar, caffeine, and nicotine on these lists, as they are just as addictive and just as harmful to the body.
Although there are also crazy concoctions out there such as Krokodile and PCP, these are much less common and there haven’t been as many studies performed to report back analytical data on the societal effects of these dangerous drugs. The best bet is to just stay away altogether.
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Charles F. has been an active part of the Florida recovery community for over 5 years. He began as a behavioral health technician at an addiction treatment facility in Ocala, Florida and has since begun training as a Licensed Addiction and Chemical Dependency counselor in Boca Raton. Charles’ passion involves the promotion of recovery and helping spread the hope of recovery to as many readers as possible!