Lets see…very surprising ranking of addictive substances…


I never looked at cigarettes as an addictive substance…back then when I still smoked (that sounds good, doesn’t it?) The first time somebody called me an addict at the qsmb I just laughed, looked at my screen and murmured “well Bozo you might be an addict, but I am not”.

Nicotine is an addictive substance, no doubt about that. But there are different kinds of addiction.

Generally, most people assume that hard drugs like cocaine and heroin are the most addictive of their kind when in fact, they aren’t. While the addictive properties in these drugs are intense, potency isn’t the only factor that plays into addiction; availability and frequency of use are important too. It might surprise you to know that all of these drugs aren’t illegal.

#1 Nicotine

First formally acknowledged in 1571, this highly addictive substance is said to have originated nearly 20 years prior to that, when it was introduced in its plant-like state. The average tobacco leaf contains between 0.05 and 7.5 percent nicotine. While chewing tobacco is the original and oldest way of consuming nicotine, most nicotine is now ingested from smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes. As the primary cause of preventable disability, disease and death in America, smoking continues to claim the lives of 480,000 US citizens annually.  The number of people smoking tobacco has declined from 42 percent of the American population back in 1965 to only 18 percent as of 2012. People who are abusing other drugs or alcohol and those with depression or mental illness are also at increased risk.

#2 Caffeine

A few months after I quit smoking I gave up drinking coffee and that was not easy at all, because I love coffee. Drunk espresso all day long, didn’t think I would function without caffeine. I can’t really say what was worse, giving up nicotine or coffee. I don’t think about cigarettes or smoking anymore, even though my husband smokes. But I think about coffee every day…I am not kidding.

Caffeine comes from over 60 known plants, it is ingested primarily though foods and beverages by 90 percent of the global population. While caffeine is used and abused worldwide, it is a growing and serious problem in America specifically. Americans consume a staggering 170 liters of soda annually. With variants of 16 to 55 mg of caffeine in a given 12-ounce soda, that can mean a lot of caffeine. It’s not just soda’s; Americans down about three cups of coffee every day per person on average. One 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains anywhere from 95 to 200 mg of caffeine. Caffeine concentrations in super sized energy drinks are far higher. Popular fat burners and over-the-counter pills promise to deliver a quick boost of energy and mental clarity while contributing to caffeine addiction behind the scenes for many. Is it mere coincidence that Americans lead the world in coffee consumption too, or is something bigger at play, like caffeine addiction?More than half of the participants in some studies have claimed they had difficulty quitting or even lessening their caffeine consumption.

#3 Heroin

Dating as far back as 3400 BC, heroin was discovered to be a derivative of opium poppy plant pods that are now grown mostly in southern Asia and Latin America. Today, the drug is most commonly used via intravenous injection, but the trends of snorting, sniffing and smoking the drug are growing in popularity, due to the risks involved in sharing needles and keeping them clean.
The effects are felt pretty quickly — including the rush that heroin abusers seek — a pleasant and euphoric sensation when the skin flushes with warmth. The risk of addiction correlates highly with the drug’s potency, but you’re also at increased risk if you have other psychiatric problems or if you begin using heroin at a younger age. It is thought that around 23 percent of heroin users become addicted to the drug.An estimated 9.2 million people worldwide are using heroin. Heroin is most popular in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, but US use is steadily on the rise. In 2007, 373,000 people in America were using heroin; just five years later in 2012, that number has nearly doubled at 669,000. Likewise, overdose is increasing too, jumping 45 percent between 2006 and 2010.

#4 Cocaine/Crack cocaine

Cocaine is a derivative of the coca leaf. In use since at least 1860, the coca plant is primarily cultivated today in Latin America — particularly in Columbia, Bolivia and Peru. Today, cocaine use is particularly rampant in Scotland. In the United States, cocaine use has actually been on the decline, dropping almost 50 percent between 2006 and 2010. In terms of addictive properties, it is second in line only to methamphetamine when it comes to psychological dependence.

Powdered cocaine can be snorted and thereby ingested via the lining of the nostrils. The powder can also be mixed into a water solution and then injected into the body; another form of cocaine, the rock form known as “crack,” is generally heated and then smoked.A 2010 study showed that children ages 12 to 17 who use gateway drugs like cannabis, alcohol and tobacco are up to 266 times more likely to use cocaine than children of the same age who do not use any gateway drugs.

#5 Alcohol

That’s the one things I haven’t given up. I still enjoy a good glass of wine in the evening, but lately I cut down on drinking as well. Giving up alcohol is not easy. It is for many a getaway. Not just that…it’s our relax product, our party friend…our make-it-all-better. “Had a shitty day…have a drink” and lots of us do exactly that…and there are many shitty days. Alcohol is a byproduct of fermented grains, fruits and vegetables. It is unclear how long alcohol has been around, but it dates back to at least 10,000 BC. Although efforts have been made over the years to dampen alcohol usage, even banning it in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, it continues to increase in popularity. With 67 percent of adult Americans currently being alcohol drinkers, a number that hasn’t been seen since 1985, it’s no wonder it is the leading risk factor for disease in the Americas.

When alcohol enters your bloodstream, it progresses to your brain where it ramps up norepinephrine, a feel-good chemical that heightens your state of arousal. Delaying effects on the cerebellum account for an alcohol-impaired person’s slowed reaction time.

About 18 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder. This legal substance creeps into the lives of many, often in adolescence and during the college years, aiding in an increased risk for the development of alcohol dependency. Having a parent who is addicted to alcohol also predisposes you to a fourfold increased risk of the same fate (same goes for smoking).

Giving up alcohol is not easy. It is, after all our social getaway. Not just that, it’s our relaxation product, our party friend…our make-it-all-better.

I follow and read a lot of addiction blogs and admire each and every one who is fighting an addiction…I bow.

I bow

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