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Addictive substances, including alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.

CNN Lists America’s Most Addictive Substances

A dependency can rear its head in many different ways. Sadly, there are a myriad of substances that can take over someone’s life and send them spiraling into addiction. But which ones can create the most havoc? That answer is subjective, of course. But per the news site CNN, a few rise to the top. Using input from researchers and trained counselors, they have compiled a list of the worst culprits when it comes to hardcore cravings.



The clear winner from CNN’s perspective is heroin. According to their scoring, this illicit drug has risen to the top as America’s most addictive and most dangerous substance. The danger component comes from the dopamine stimulation that heroin has on the brain. It increases your cranial reward system by up to 200 percent and can easily lead to death. In fact, the overdose amount is only five times greater than the dose required to get high. Plus with the risk of needle sharing and intravenous injections, there is no doubt that you put yourself at serious risk by using this drug.



Cocaine is an easy second for CNN’s researchers. Again this stimulant interferes with the brain’s dopamine levels, which can do tremendous bodily damage. It is also much more commonly used than heroin, pulling in about $75 million from street sales across the country. The site emphasized the “crack” element as well, which comes from cooking white lines. In that scenario, the risk of addiction and death skyrockets.


Barbiturates (“Downers”)

The polar opposite of cocaine, barbiturates can be just as dangerous. These drugs create a subdued effect and were initially used to induce sleep. But when taken in large dosages, these “downers” can suppress breathing and lead to premature death. CNN also reports that there are serious brain damage risks associated with barbiturates, as they can interfere with cranial signaling. As with the rest, they are highly addictive and can lead to a very severe habit.



The only non-drug to make the list, alcohol still ranks quite high for addictiveness. Since it is legal, booze is also the most commonly used substance. CNN’s writers called out brain and liver damage risks related to this habit, with a stat of 3 million alcohol-related deaths per year. As far as dependencies go, it is reported that 22 percent of people who have taken a drink will develop some form of alcoholism during their lifetime.