What Are the Most Addictive Drug Substances? (and How to Treat Them)

Drug addiction accounted for 750,000 deaths in 2018 alone. With the numbers still climbing even now during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to educate ourselves about the most addictive drug types out there and how to treat them.

If you’ve been searching for a comprehensive guide about the top addictive drugs, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to share some facts that you might have known and others you had no idea about.

Read on now and get ready because we’re about to fill you in on the addiction crisis that’s sweeping the nation.


The first drug that we’re going to take a look at is cocaine. Cocaine has had a long history dating back to use by and within the military to ensure that soldiers could stay awake and alert while on active duty.

People that use cocaine find themselves addicted to the pleasure that they get from the high. Cocaine affects the amount of dopamine that’s released in the brain.

Dopamine controls the feel-good chemicals that get released into the body, also known as the pleasure and reward center of the brain. Over time users find that without using cocaine they’re not able to achieve the same feeling without it because of the constant surge of dopamine that’s released when using.

It comes in the form of a powder or a rock, at which point it’s known as crack. Common signs that someone you know and love is using cocaine are:

  • Loss of their appetite
  • Spending long periods of time awake
  • White powdered substance around the nose
  • Increased paranoia
  • Constant sniffing

Cocaine is known as a stimulant and is highly addictive, but it’s not the most addictive drug that you’ll find on this list.


For years people have been warned about this opiate because, for most, after one use, they become addicted to the feeling it gives them. While heroin is extremely potent, it can be found in various colors, including white, black, and brown.

When users become addicted to heroin, they become addicted to the rush feeling that they describe takes over their body after they get their fix. People that are using heroin typically nod off constantly after using.

Other signs that someone might be using heroin are:

  • Itchiness when the high is over
  • Track marks on the skin where the heroin has been injected
  • Constant vomiting

Heroin is dangerous because it slows down the beating of the user’s heart as well as their breathing, which can lead to overdose. Heroin is the leading drug as far as the addictive factor is concerned, but there are some that might become more addictive as the years go on.


The issue with alcohol is that it’s legal for people that are of age to purchase and drink it, but this doesn’t stop it from being abused. In some cases, alcohol may act as a stimulant, but in most, it produces a sedative effect.

When a person is intoxicated, it lowers their inhibit actions and ability to make reasonable and sound decisions. For this reason, many car accidents involve a driver under the influence of alcohol.

Most people drink because they like the way that alcohol makes them feel without realizing the long and short-term effects that it can have on the body. Long term alcoholics can suffer from various ailments, including cancer and liver cirrhosis.

While the short term effects of alcohol can be seen a few hours after someone’s begun to drink; and those would include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased movement coordination
  • Increased mood swings

If you notice that you or someone you’re close to is out of control when drinking, it’s time to seek help from people that know how to treat addiction.


The proper name for ‘benzos’ are Benzodiazepines, and these are medications that can be obtained through a prescription given by a licensed doctor. When you think of benzos, you’re going to want to think of medications like Valium, Xanax, or Klonopin.

Although these medications come in pill form, that doesn’t stop people from breaking them down and either injecting or snorting them to get them into the bloodstream quicker. Signs that someone might be addicted to prescription medications such as these would include seizures, hallucinations, insomnia, and many other side effects.


Unlike some of the other drugs on our list, barbiturates are a ‘downer’ or a depressant. This is another drug that has to be prescribed and is taken by being crushed up and snorted or injected by the user.

Some signs of barbiturate abuse include increased drowsiness, overly talkative or slurred speech, reduced inhibitions, and many others. Some common names that are typically classified as barbiturates are Pentathol and Seconal.

Most Addictive Drug Types: The Need to Know

When it comes to the most addictive drug types, we’ve listed some of the hard hitters that are being abused in your backyard. Whether it’s cocaine, alcohol, or benzos, they’re all dangerous and, when abused, can lead to life-altering changes for the users and even death.

Are you or your loved one ready to accept help for your addiction? If so, contact us here at Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center. We’ve got various programs that we’ve designed to meet the needs of all our patients.

Let us help you take one step at a time to getting your life back on track today.

Clinically Reviewed By

Dawn Masick, LMFT

Dawn has experience dealing with various relational, emotional, and psychological struggles. Dawn’s training has prepared her to work with children, teens, young adults, adults, couples, and families. She has undergone training in DBT, TF-CBT, and Family Therapy.  Other competencies include dealing with ADHD, mood/anxiety disorders, parenting challenges, addiction, PTSD, co- dependency, and relationship issues. I have experience in residential, school-based mental health, children’s community mental health, victims of crime (VOC), and private practice settings.

Dawn has been committed to guiding clients through their trauma, coming alongside them in their healing, and supporting them as they navigate life changes. Dawn’s passion is working with clients struggling with trauma in substance abuse and mental health.