Addiction is no joke. Though we’ve all joked about being addicted to “Stranger Things” or pumpkin spice or, obviously, the wonderful Curiosity app, those things aren’t out to ruin anyone’s lives. Entering the realm of the world’s most addictive substances will do just that. Research from 2007 identified the top five most addictive things on Earth.
Might As Well Face It, You’re Addicted
A group of addiction experts came together in 2007 to publish a study in the Lancet about the most addictive substances in existence. To do this, they developed a rational scale that could measure the harm of different drugs and their potential misuse. They averaged three factors: pleasure, psychological dependence (cravings, irritability from withdrawal, etc.), and physical dependence (symptoms like headache, nausea, etc.). They scored each drug on a scale from 0-3, where 3 was the most addictive and 0 the least. Here are the top five most addictive substances:
- Heroin. Rank: 3 out of 3.
- Cocaine. Rank: 2.4 out of 3.
- Nicotine. Rank: 2.2 out of 3.
- Barbiturates. Rank: 2 out of 3.
- Alcohol. Rank: 1.9 out of 3.
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?
A 2010 study in the Lancet looked at the most addictive drugs and ranked them in a different way: which harm users and those close to the users most.
Members of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs and a few specialists met in a to score 20 drugs on 16 criteria: nine related to the harms that a drug produces in the individual and seven indicating the harms to others. The drugs were scored out of 100 points, and the criteria were weighted to indicate their relative importance.
The study results showed that heroin (score of 34), crack cocaine (37), and methamphetamine (32) were the most harmful to individuals. On the other side, alcohol (score of 46), heroin (21), and crack cocaine (17) were the most harmful to others. Perhaps surprisingly, the study concluded that, overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) following. Beware the bottle, kids.