The Most Harmful Drugs of Addiction

The reality is that all drugs cause harm. While the damage may come in a variety of different forms, the habit of drug abuse will eventually destroy users. In addition, most of the drugs typically abused cause harm on societal levels as well.

The Most Damaging Drugs

A fine line exists between an experimental bout with a drug and a dangerous addiction. Even less discernible is when that addiction is deemed a pattern of abuse. Each year millions of Americans find themselves walking that line. Out of curiosity or peer pressure, individuals may experiment with any number of drugs. After the initial experience of relaxation or liberation, individuals may then cultivate habits involving those drugs leading to addiction. While individuals differ vastly in the specific types of drugs they abuse, the innate harm is universal. The most harmful drugs of addiction include the following:

Alcohol: The Easy-Access Drug

Toasting beersLegal or not, the more often individuals use a drug, the more susceptible they become to the potential health risks. According to a study conducted by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 70 percent of people over 18 drank alcohol in the last year.1 Of all the potential drugs to abuse, alcohol is the most accessible. Once individuals turn 21, they are granted full freedom to experiment with alcoholic beverages. The easy accessibility coupled with the inability to moderate make alcohol a potentially harmful substance for many.

Because many individuals have a difficult time stopping after a single drink, the initial benefits of alcohol are soon dismissed by its negative qualities.

The classic definition of a standard drink is a single 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 2-ounce serving of hard liquor. Moderate drinking means one drink a day for women and up to two a day for men.2 Beyond the moderate amount, alcohol naturally relaxes inhibitions, enabling individuals to make impulsive and poor decisions, including drinking and risky sexual behavior.

Cocaine and Heroin: Addictive and Lethal

While dangerous, cocaine and heroin are harmful for reasons different than those of alcohol and tobacco. Recent data suggests that roughly 16 percent of the American population over the age of 26 had used cocaine.3 Research suggests similarly low percentages of heroin users. Despite the low percentage of people who report using cocaine and heroin, both drugs are incredibly lethal. Thus, many individuals who use cocaine and heroin either combine them with other drugs or overdose.  In addition, some individuals contract HIV/AIDS from injecting heroin. Users also sometimes couple their drug abuse with alcohol, and this may lead to death.

Tobacco and Lung Cancer

Nicotine is currently the most addictive drug commonly used. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that, in the United States, cigarette smoking is responsible for 80–90 percent of lung cancer incidents.4 Equally astounding is that secondhand smoke related heart disease accounts for 34,000 deaths each year.5

Similar to alcohol abuse, smoking is a difficult habit to moderate. Due to the addictive qualities of nicotine, many individuals are unable to quit smoking, despite their desire to do so. The longer an individual smokes, the more likely it is that he will continue to smoke as a stress relief and coping device. Similar to other addictive drugs, over time, smokers will require higher doses of nicotine in order to reap the same benefits.

Tylar’s story began with cigarettes and continued with heroin. After missing out on years of his life, he found help through treatment and the 12-Steps. He says, “I have everything that I wish I would have had when I was using, but today I have so much more in recovery. At first, heroin promised me a lot and recovery didn’t promise me anything. Once I started working the steps, though, I didn’t want to stop.” This can be you, too!

If you’d like information on how to stop using harmful addictive drugs, contact us at The Oaks at La Paloma at our 24-hour, toll-free helpline. We want to help you begin a life free from addiction today. Our knowledgeable admissions coordinators can answer all your questions. Please call now.


1Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” NIAAA, June 2017. Accessed September 24, 2017.

2Fact Sheets – Moderate Drinking.” CDC, July 25, 2017. Accessed September 24, 2017.

3Cocaine.” NIDA, Accessed September 24, 2017.

4What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?” CDC, May 31, 2017. Accessed September 24, 2017.

5Secondhand Smoke (SHS) Facts.” CDC, February 21, 2017. Accessed September 24, 2017.