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Top 5 Addictions In The Us

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Top 5 Addictive Sugar Facts

Choosing the best rehab center for your needs may seem complicated with the number of facilities available in the U.S. However, when using the right selection criteria, the process can be made much easier.

Finding a rehab program that directly matches your needs will afford you the greatest opportunity to enter lasting recovery.

Learn more about the best rehab centers in the U.S. and the programs they offer by contacting a treatment specialist today.

Written by the Addiction Resource Editorial Staff

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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The Most Common Addictions Are Treatable

Substance addiction is scary. Especially for concerned loved ones, there are many fears about overdose and the long-term effects of drug abuse. It is important for you to know that addiction is also treatable.

Much like asthma or diabetes, substance addiction is a manageable condition, that can be treated with ongoing care, therapy, and lifestyle changes. As far as your loved one may seem to be in the addiction cycle, know that help is available. Professional intervention provides the highest rates of success when overcoming drug addiction. You can help your loved one get the help that he or she deserves.

If you are seeking addiction treatment for your loved one, or are looking to learn more about common addiction treatment methods and therapies, Turnbridge is just one call away. We are a recognized addiction treatment center for young adults and adolescents. Call 877-581-1793 to learn more.

Nicotine & Tobacco Deaths

Tobacco use is the first preventable cause of sickness and early death in the United States. Tobacco-related deaths number more than 480,000 deaths each year.19

Very large amounts of nicotine taken in short periods of time can cause death. Too much nicotine can lead to constriction of the blood vessels, high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, nausea and vomiting.16

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Cocaine Is Still One Of The Worst Addictions In America

There is no doubt about it: cocaine is not only one of the hardest types of addictions to quit, but also one of the worst represented in the United States.

While it may not be as popular as it was in the 1980s, around 1.5 million people continue to suffer from cocaine addiction in the US. Because cocaine boosts positive mood and energy, people using it recreationally or at work can easily become addicted to its effects. It is usually taken socially, which can make kicking the habit even harder.

Traditionally, our brain cells cycle will reuse hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters determine how we experience desire, motivations, pleasure, and reward. Brain cells send out signals usually and theyre taken up by receptors on that cell. Cocaine shuts down this normal process of the brain. It creates pleasure, feelings of desire, and behavior reinforcement. Dopamine begins to build up. Cocaine also alters serotonin levels which is what balances our moods.

Cocaine prevents dopamine from being reabsorbed, causing it to linger in the brain. This creates an intense feeling of euphoria. When the cocaine quickly wears off and the dopamine is absorbed, the brain isnt capable of creating its own dopamine. This creates depression, exhaustion, and mood swings. If the user has more access to cocaine, they are likely to use it.

This is known as reinforcement.

Take Care Of Yourself

Top 5 Most Commonly Abused Drugs in the US &  Their Effects

If youre not taking care of yourself, youre more likely to fall victim to drug addiction. Make sure youre eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise and sleep, and spending time with your loved ones. These things will help keep you strong physically and mentally, making it impossible for drugs to take over your life.

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Substance Use And Addiction Can Also Be Understood As Being On A Spectrum

People use substances for different reasons, and in varying degrees. For some people there may not be any harms related to their substance use, however, for some there may be negative impacts on their lives. Substance use and addiction can be understood as being on a spectrum, as seen in the model below.

Often the symptoms of problematic substance use and addiction can be episodic, and an individual can experience periods of increased substance use as well as periods of control. For example, casual or non-problematic substance consumption might escalate into problematic substance use if an individual is experiencing stressors in their life and using substances to cope. The substance use spectrum can be seen below:vii

A common misconception about addiction is that an individual will immediately get hooked if experimenting with an addictive substance. While many substances can be addictive, addiction isnt caused simply by the substances being consumed. For example, many people who use narcotics for post-operative pain relief do not become dependent on these substances. Addiction and substance use are often connected to a persons lived experience and their behavior patterns.


i European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. . Models of Addiction. Retrieved from:

Develop Good Coping Mechanisms

Everyone has their own vulnerabilities. We all have our weak points and triggers that could put us at risk for drug addiction. Its essential to have healthy coping mechanisms in place so that if and when these weak points are exposed, we have something to fall back on instead of turning to drugs to cope.

This could be anything from journaling, painting, listening to music, spending time outdoors in nature, meditating, or practicing yoga.

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Possible Causes Of Rising Rates Of Addiction

Many studies indicate a rising prevalence of several addictions, certainly including opioids, Internet-related, and eating-related, and possibly others. These epidemics are accompanied by rising suicide rates and overdoses related to substance abuse, rising obesity related to eating addictions, and rising adolescent depression apparently related to Internet and related addictions. While there is no overarching consensus on the reasons for the rising prevalence of addictions in American society, several broad hypotheses have been put forward for consideration. These hypotheses are inter-related and by no means mutually exclusive.

How Do Habits Become An Addiction

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A habit is something we are accustomed to doing. Maybe you have a glass of wine or a beer after a particularly stressful day at work. That is a common habit for many people. But what if that habit becomes a daily activity? What if a drink is the only answer you have to cope with stress? You are likely crossing the line from habit to addiction. It is best to acknowledge and seek help for this issue as soon as possible to avoid forming an addiction thatll become difficult to break.

Any substance or activity that becomes a compulsion something you cant stop doing even if you try is likely considered an addiction.

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Young People Aged 18 To 25 Are The Most Likely To Have Problems With Prescription Drug Abuse

According to opioid abuse statistics and statistics about other prescription drugs, over 20% of people over the age of 12 take prescription medicine for a nonmedical reason. But why do people use drugs? This age group does it for various reasons. For instance, some think theyll study better, and others use them to get high.

Dangers Of Drug Abuse

Abusing drugs can cause damage to your physical and mental health, as well as your life in general. Youll be at risk of experiencing health complications associated with the drug youre abusing. Your social life will also be affected, as you could spend all of your earnings trying to acquire drugs, experience relationship issues and be unable to hold down a steady job.

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How Is Drug Addictiveness Measured

The addictiveness of drugs can be measured using a variety of factors. Nutt and colleagues analyzed each substance based on physical and psychological dependency, physical harm and societal harms. Dependence was based on pleasurable effects, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and the drugs ability to influence repeated use.

In the 1990s, Dr. Jack E. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco each ranked the six most addictive drugs.

  • Rates of dependence and relapse
  • Level of intoxication

Henningfield ranked nicotine as the most addictive substance, followed by heroin, cocaine, alcohol, caffeine and marijuana. He said that heroin caused the second most intense withdrawal symptoms, followed by nicotine, cocaine, caffeine and marijuana.

According to Henningfields rankings, alcohol caused the highest level of intoxication, and it had the most serious withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholism can lead to delirium tremens, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal characterized by sudden and severe changes to the nervous system.

Both addiction experts found that cocaine ranked highest for reinforcement, which is a measure of a substances ability to drive repeated use based on human and animal tests.

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Treatment For Alcohol Abuse


Medical detox may be needed to wean a person off alcohol safely. Supervised detoxification helps prevent painful and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can include delirium tremens which is characterized by tremors, fevers, and hallucinations. As with most addictions, individual and group counseling helps people in recovery stay sober.

Also, AUD relapse can be avoided by administering certain medications that help alcohol addiction recovery.

The FDA has three approved drugs that help treat AUD.2

Naltrexone helps reduce heavy drinking

Acamprosate makes it easier to stay away from drinking

Disulfiram stops the body from metabolizing alcohol, which then leads to distressing symptoms such as nausea and skin flushing – these effects can aid in avoiding alcohol while taking disulfiram

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Amphetamine Use Is Turning Into One Of The Worst Addictions

Amphetamines are a stimulant class of drugs that includes dextroamphetamine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. When taken, they boost energy, mood, and confidence. They also help to suppress ones appetite. They are used sparingly as a weight-loss tool but the likes of Adderall are being prescribed to those with ADHD liberally.

This has turned into a relatively new form of drug abuse and addiction in the US. While many people seem to think that there are few consequences for abusing amphetamines like Adderall, this could not be further from the case.

With so many people being diagnosed with ADHD, drugs like Adderall are making it onto the streets. The medications that include amphetamines for those with ADHD work differently in the brain than they do of the general population. They are more addictive when abused by someone who doesnt have the disorder. Due to the ease of being able to obtain these drugs is one of the explanations on why its one of the most common addictions in the U.S. today.

Amphetamines are synthetic drugs that are designed to stimulate the central nervous system. This is why people will have increased energy and some of the functions within the body go on supercharge. Their effects are similar to cocaine with a rewarding high. This is what makes them both physiologically and psychologically addictive.

Here Are The 10 Most Common Addictions

Nicotine As of 2020, 59.2% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.

Nicotine addiction may not appear as harmful as many other addictions. This is likely because tobacco products are legal and easy to get, and the worst side effects of using them take time to develop. Tobacco use claims more lives than any other addictive substance. Many smokers cannot quit, despite knowing smokings impact on their health. Wanting to quit but being unable to do so is a telltale sign of addiction and a need for treatment.

Alcohol As of 2020, 79.5% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.

The social acceptance of drinking can make an alcohol addiction hard to spot. Despite its legal status, alcohols potential for abuse opens users up to many health risks and possible addiction. Alcohol abuse has numerous negative consequences. In addition to deaths from liver disease and alcohol overdose, drunk driving claims thousands of lives every year.

The legalization of in some states has made the drugs use more socially acceptable. This trend can distract people from Marijuanas addictive potential. Rates of Marijuana addiction might also be growing due to increasing potency over the past decade.

Painkillers In 2020, 3.3% of Americans 12+ tried them in the past year.
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Cocaine As of 2020, 14.2% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.
Heroin As of 2020, 2.3% of Americans 12+ had tried it before.

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How To Identify An Addiction

Many pleasurable activities can become addictions, but how do you recognize that shift from enjoyable pastime to dependency? Some common signs of addiction include:

  • Priority shift: Are other aspects of your life, such as work, school or socialization, becoming less important than taking that drug, having a drink, swiping your credit card or gaming?
  • Lack of control: Do you find yourself returning to the same behavior even though you recognize it is a problem?
  • Increased tolerance: Do you need to take more of a drug or drink more to get the same feeling you are chasing? Do you need to shop, bet, eat or play more?
  • Increased risk-taking behavior: Are you less concerned with risks and consequences than with achieving that pleasurable feeling? Addicts often risk their health, safety, relationships and financial security to maintain their addiction.
  • Withdrawal: Do you feel unpleasant physical or psychological symptoms if you are unable to indulge in your substance or activity of choice?

Alcohol Is The Number 1 Addiction In The Us

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One of the hardest addictions to kick is none other than alcohol. In fact, an estimated 30 percent of Americans have suffered from an alcohol use disorder in the past. Thats close to 100 million people. In 2010, nearly 18 million Americans were classified as being addicted to alcohol. Alcohol is the number one choice when it comes to substances of abuse and addiction. Not that anyone would choose addiction but when millions of people are abusing it, it becomes a common addiction.

Not many people may think of alcohol as a particularly dangerous drug, but given the level of addiction in the US and its withdrawal effects, it is safe to say that alcohol is one of the worst or hardest addictions to kick. Despite the fact that nearly 10 people will die every hour due to alcohol-related causes, how is it that there are so many alcoholics?

Why is alcohol so addictive? Alcohol affects the brain. It is the ethanol within alcohol that causes chemical reactions in the brain. When alcohol is chronically abused, it will change the way the brain functions. It will begin to require the substance to feel normal. It is the chemicals in the brain that send messages which are affected. They are neurotransmitters, which tell the body what to do. Inhibitory neurotransmitters will help calm the brain down. It makes a person feel balanced and at ease.

Alcohol affects certain neurotransmitters that create addiction. They include:

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The Internet And Modern Technology

A recent phenomenon has developed called Nomophobia which means no-mobile-phone-phobia and describes the psychological attachment some people have to their modern devices.

According to modern research internet addiction especially affects young people and symptoms include feelings of desperation and anxiety when separated from their phones. It has also been shown that there is a dopamine boost from overusing certain social medias which contributes to the addiction explanation.

An interesting experiment is to ask yourself how much anxiety would you feel without your mobile phone?, or to perhaps try to not use your phone for a certain amount of time.

The internet is quickly becoming a virtual conduit to the world and integration of technology, internet and information can become an alternate reality that is more attractive than actual reality.

Internet users are spending a lot more time on their computers and less time with family and friends and can show symptoms of withdrawal or discomfort when separated from computers.

Treatment For Heroin Abuse

Heroin abuse needs formal treatment that begins with medical detox. At-Home detox is not recommended because the withdrawal symptoms that occur when coming off heroin can lead to serious and painful side effects and possibly death. A medically supervised detox constantly monitors the patient and provides medications to control or avoid withdrawal symptoms. Once the detox is completed, individual and group therapies, as well as medications, can then be provided to prevent relapse and aid in recovery.

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Rising Stress Levels Associated With Increased Socioeconomic Inequality

The second hypothesis, powerfully described by Profs. Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in their new book The Inner Level , argues that high and rising income inequality in high-income societies leads to stress that leads to addiction: As we have seen, trying to maintain self-esteem and status in a more unequal society can be highly stressful his experience of stress can lead to an increased desire for anything which makes them feel better whether alcohol, drugs, eating for comfort, retail therapy or another crutch. Its a dysfunctional way of coping, of giving yourself a break from the relentlessness of the anxiety so many feel.

Start Your Treatment Program From Most Common Addictions Today

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Do you struggle with drug addiction or want to help your loved ones embrace sobriety again but dont know where to get the best addiction recovery programs? At our San Diego Rehab Center, we offer different drug and substance treatment programs for the most common addictions.

Using clinically designed programs, all our addiction patients receive individualized care. Contact us today to start a healthy and lasting recovery process.

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