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What Are the Most Common Addictions?
Addiction is a disease that impacts the lives of millions of Americans every year and is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. However, some addictions are more common than others. According to statistics compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), these are the 10 most common addictions in America.
Alcohol has been called America’s drug of choice and is the most common addiction. It is abused by over 16 million people in the country each year, and millions more are at high-risk for developing alcoholism. In addition, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable death in the country. Unfortunately, the social acceptance and normalization of dangerous drinking practices like binge drinking makes alcohol addiction easy to conceal.
2. Tobacco (Nicotine)
Tobacco products are legal and easy to obtain even though they contain nicotine, which is a dangerous ingredient that leads to addiction. Long-term exposure leads to changes in brain chemistry that cause withdrawal symptoms when someone who is addicted tries to quit. According to the American Cancer Society, about 2 out of 3 smokers say they want to quit, but very few are successful. Certain research suggests it may be harder to quit smoking than to stop using cocaine or opioids.
The social acceptance of Marijuana has evolved over recent years due to the legalization of its medical and recreational use in many states and even some countries. Easier access and increasing potency over time has resulted in a rise in consumption, making it the most commonly used illicit drug in the country.
There are different opinions as to whether or not marijuana is addictive, but research shows that dependency occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of endocannabinoids that reduce the sensitivity of naturally produced neurotransmitters. Studies suggest about 9 percent of users will become dependent, and those chances increase to 17 percent for those who started using in their teens. According to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), about 4 million people were diagnosed for a marijuana use disorder, and an estimated 138,000 voluntarily sought treatment in 2015.
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4. Prescription Opioids
Prescription opioids, such as Oxycodone, Codeine, and Vicodin, are some of the most abused and addictive medicines in the country. Opioids attach to opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the transmission of pain signals and releasing pleasure signals, resulting in a euphoric state. People who become addicted often don’t notice the problem until they try to stop using the medication and experience withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are highly uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous. In order to avoid them, many people continue to take the drugs beyond their prescription, increasing the risk of addiction.
Benzodiazepines, or “Benzos,” such as Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin, are only legally available through prescriptions to treat anxiety and related conditions. However, they are very commonly abused in the United States. Abuse is more frequent among adolescents and young adults who use the drugs to experience a euphoric state similar to drunkenness. Withdrawal symptoms from Benzos are extremely dangerous and can result in death.
6. Cocaine and Crack Cocaine
Rates of Cocaine and Crack addiction in the U.S. are dropping, but the decline is slow due to the drugs’ highly addictive nature and because they are often consumed in binges. Use of these substances results in long-term changes in the brain’s reward pathways, making withdrawal symptoms more likely. Studies show that memories of experience or exposure to cues of Cocaine/Crack Cocaine use can trigger cravings, resulting in relapse.
The category of stimulants includes a wide range of drugs, from prescription pills such as Adderall and Ritalin to illegal substances like Meth. Stimulant users quickly build a tolerance and often experience intense withdrawal symptoms, leading to increased use and high risk of overdose. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the amount of Meth seized coming into the country has tripled in the past five years.
Many different drugs fall under the category of hallucinogens, some of the most common being LSD, Psilocybin Mushrooms, and Ketamine. These substances alter a person’s awareness of the outside world and their own thoughts and feelings. Short-term effects include seeing, hearing, and feeling objects that do not exist, but long-term effects can lead to persistent psychosis and other mental health problems. Although overdosing on hallucinogens is rare, they can be psychologically addictive as people can quickly develop a tolerance to them.
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9. Sleeping Pills
“Z-Drugs” are prescribed sedatives that produce effects ranging from mild sedation to total anesthesia. Also known as sleeping pills, drugs like Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta are commonly used to treat sleep disorders. Each year, thousands of people build a tolerance and develop a dependency resulting in addiction. In some cases, abusing these drugs can result in a coma or even death.
10. Illicit Opioids
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), illicit Opioid use has increased across the US among all sexes, age groups, and income levels. Heroin and Fentanyl are two of the most difficult addictions to overcome and often require a combination of therapy and medications to treat withdrawals and cravings. Unfortunately, illicit Opioid-related deaths are sharply increasing.
Get Help For The 10 Most Common Addictions
If you or someone you love are struggling with one of the 10 most common addictions, or any other substance use disorder, the time to act is now. Contact a dedicated treatment provider today to find out more about your options.
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