What are the most common addictions?
There are several substances that people can be addicted to. However, some are certainly more common than others. If you suspect that you or a loved one might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, it’s important to know the top 10 most common addictions. It will make it easier to notice the symptoms of addictions to certain substances and make it easier to get the right treatments for the addiction. Here are the ten most common addictions in the US:
- Tobacco (40+ million)
More specifically this is the addiction to nicotine. It might seem that cigarettes aren’t as serious as addiction as others. It is true for various reasons including the fact that tobacco is legal and very accessible. Another factor is the addiction takes time to develop in a person. In fact, tobacco causes more deaths than other addictive substances. Many smokers have a tough time kicking the habit even when they want to.
Nicotine addiction is also known as tobacco dependence. When people are addicted to tobacco products, they can’t quit even when they want to and know it’s dangerous to their health. Nicotine causes various physical/mental effects that provide short-term pleasure. It makes people want more tobacco and results in dependence. Meanwhile, when people stop tobacco, this can result in withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and irritability.
It’s technically the nicotine found in tobacco that results in nicotine dependence. However, tobacco’s toxic effects result from other substances found in tobacco. Smokers have higher rates of stroke, heart disease, and cancer than nonsmokers.
- Alcohol (18 million)
Like cigarettes, it can be tougher to observe alcohol addiction since it’s a legal substance and is socially acceptable. It’s very easy for people to abuse alcohol. It increases the chance of various health risks as well as addiction.
There are various negative results from alcohol abuse. They include alcohol overdose, liver disease, and drunk driving. These results cause thousands of deaths in the US alone. There are various signs that a person is suffering from alcohol abuse/addiction.
A person might:
Drink more/longer than they planned to
Spent lots of time drinking or sick
Problems with work/school/home
Drink despite past problems
Become injured due to drinking
Drink to get a certainly wanted effect
Experience withdrawal symptoms
Experience anxiousness, depression, blackouts, etc.
Stop fun activities to drink more
Think only about drinking alcohol
Unable to reduce/stop drinking after trying 2+ times.
Since alcohol is legal, it’s often considered as less serious an addiction as those of illegal drugs. However, the fact that it’s the #2 most common addiction in the US and WHO reports alcohol causes 3.3 million deaths each year.
- Marijuana (4.2 million)
The natural plant has been legalized in some states and allowed for medicinal purposes in several others. However, it’s also possible for marijuana to become addictive. Another issue is marijuana has become 60% stronger during the past decade.
It’s important to note that while studies show marijuana can provide several medicinal benefits, it can also be addictive. Studies show that about 14% of all marijuana users are addicted to the drug. There’s also about a 16% chance a pot smoker will become addicted if they start it during their teenage years.
Another important fact is that only about 10% of people addicted to marijuana receive medical treatment. As a result, many people should be treated for addiction but aren’t getting the treatment they need for the drug.Another factor is that among those who received treatment for marijuana addiction in 2010 about 20% of them said it was the 2nd or 3rd most addictive drug.
- Painkillers (1.8 million)
Various pharmaceuticals like codeine are often prescribed to reduce pain. A mistake people often make is thinking painkillers can’t be addictive since they are prescribed to people who need them. However, it’s possible for people to become addicted to such painkillers even when they’re taking low doses.
In fact, several people who are addicted to painkillers don’t notice until they stop using the drugs. Another factor is that painkillers are often used without the person having a prescription. It can also result in addiction.
One of the biggest issues in the 2010s has been the opioid addiction in the US and Canada. These are very strong pain-killers. The drugs can be used as treatments for people prescribed them and also as recreational drugs. They can cause very serious problems including breathing problems and depression. That’s due to the sedative effects on the part of the brain that controls breathing.
- Cocaine (821,000)
Rates of cocaine addiction in the US are decreasing. However, it should be noted that the figure is dropping slowly. Many of the addictions are due to crack cocaine that’s a cheaper but stronger type of cocaine.
The US government defines cocaine has a high abuse/dependence stimulant. There are various ways people use cocaine. It can also cause various health issues including those related to smelling, breathing, runny noses, and swallow.
However, the crystallized form of crack is much more dangerous than powdered cocaine. Studies show that use of crack cocaine can result in more long-term symptoms due to the chance that the addict might use other dangerous chemicals with crack.
There are several effects of cocaine dependency. One of the main ones is something called “severe paranoia.” It is a short-term state of paranoid psychosis that causes symptoms like hearing voices. Cocaine use can cause other health issues like the higher risk of heart attacks/strokes. These symptoms are often followed by stoppage of breathing.
- Heroin (426,000)
Heroin abuse has been rising in the US and especially among young women. Another issue is sharing needles among heroin users can also spread various serious diseases. There are various ways to use heroin including smoking, injecting, and snorting. There are also different forms of heroin.
It’s important to note that heroin is an opiate that’ fast-acting. It provides a quick surge of euphoria that takes place in seconds. It is due to the drug getting into the bloodstream instantly. The “high” can take more time due to taking the drug in other ways.
There are various common symptoms people experience when using heroin. Their mouth might dry out, or their skin becomes red. The pupils become constricted. They also might feel sleepy and move in and out of consciousness. Other symptoms of heroin abuse include slowing breathing and nodding off. Heroin usage also makes a person’s thinking unclear. It can affect things like their memory and decision-making.
- Benzodiazepines (400,000)
These are also known as “benzos” and include several prescription drugs for regulating mood. Their regular function is to treat things like stress and anxiety. Many people who are addicted to benzos aren’t even aware that they have a problem. However, they become aware of it when they realize they can’t function in a normal way without using the substance.
Another key reason benzos are dangerous is the change they cause in the brain’s chemical composition. The detox process must be done properly to deal with withdrawal symptoms.
Benzos are used to treat issues with a person’s central nervous system. It is recommended that benzos not be used in the long-term. However, the problem is many people use them for a long enough time to get addicted. Then when people abuse the drug in the long-term, it causes them to become even more addicted to the meds. There are 15 benzos used legally in the US, and another 20 are sold in other countries.
- Stimulants (329,000)
These range from different prescriptions drugs like Ritalin to illegal drugs like meth. This type of drug is very addictive. Another issue is they produce strong withdrawal symptoms that make them tough to quit. Another issue is it’s easy for stimulant users to build a tolerance to the “high” it provides. It results in more use and overdose risk.
The main problem with stimulants is they have a negative effect on people’s mental/physical processes. The drugs boost energy/attention but can also affect people’s hearts and breathe. What’s important is to keep in mind that stimulants can include both legal and illegal drugs. It’s also a very common drug. A 2014 US survey showed that 3.1 million people had used stimulants during the past month.
- Inhalants (140,000)
This addiction is very dangerous since they’re volatile/toxic substances. The substances include ones like gasoline, aerosols, and cleaning products are strong and can have serious results. The chemicals in the products can stay in the body/brain even after a person stops using them. It makes total recovery tougher.
It’s worth noting that inhabitant abuse tends to be less common than other types of drugs. However, it’s important to note that there are qualities in inhalants that can make them addictive. So just because it’s less common doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be aware of the signs and symptoms of inhalant addiction. They’re important to know so people can get needed treatment when they have an addiction.
As with other substances, people are considered to be addicted to inhalants when they can’t stop their inhalant use even when they know it’s dangerous. Another issue is it can be tough for people to stop their addiction to inhalants due to the products being easily accessed in homes and stores.
- Sedatives (78,000)
Many people are prescribed barbiturates/sedatives or “sleeping pills.” It is used to treat things like stress and sleep issues. However, thousands of people with sedative prescriptions build a tolerance every year and become addicted to the products. Sleeping pills can result in mind-changing effects that result in the drug abuse continuing.
There are several types of sedatives classed as alcohol, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, opioids, tranquilizers, and benzos. The human central nervous system includes the brain & spinal cord. When various depressant agents are being taken, it causes the heart and breathing to slow down. However, if this happens to an extreme, it can cause a person to become unconscious and go into a coma. When a person uses CNS depressants, they feel less anxious and alert. The two main kinds of sedatives are sleep medications and barbiturates.
It’s important to know the difference between using and abusing drugs. There are various signs of drug abuse and knowing them will help to determine whether or not a person needs professional help to overcome their problem. It all starts with knowing what drug abuse is.
Drug abuse is a strong desire to get, use, and use more of 1+ substances. It’s important to note that drug abuse doesn’t just involve illegal drugs but also legal ones like alcohol and cigarettes. There’s also a difference between drug abuse and drug addiction. In a nutshell drug “addiction” involves a physical/psychological dependence on a particular drug for the person to function. It is an important distinction to keep in mind compared to drug abuse.
If you or someone you know might be addicted to any of the above substances or others, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible. It is critical to test and evaluate the person to determine if they’re indeed addicted to a particular substance.
There are several options regarding drug rehab/recovery. A person can go to a center as an outpatient and return home during the same day. It is a plus since their everyday life won’t be affected. However, there are also programs that last days or weeks. It is especially effective if a person has a serious addiction and need treatments like medication, counseling, CBT, and others. What’s most important is for the person to get all the help needed to make the recovery long-term. If the process is ineffective, then the person will be back in rehab soon after checking out.
Make sure to think about the goals of the person’s rehab. It will make it easier to pick a facility that best meets the person’s needs.