An ongoing discussion in the recovery community, the exact arrangement of the top five most difficult drugs to quit is constantly up for debate. People agree, however, that the drugs that come with severe physical withdrawal symptoms and intensive, long-term cravings for the drug are the most difficult to combat. Here are the top five toughest drugs to quit:
Heroin and other opiates
Especially when injected, heroin is extremely addictive and dependence often develops quickly after the initial use. Whether or not injection is the method of ingestion of choice, heroin creates intense physical withdrawal symptoms within a few hours of the missed dose that intensify as the days pass. The psychological dependence upon the drug is overwhelming too, lasting for weeks or even months as patients learn how to manage issues like physical pain, tough emotions and high stress in more positive and healthy ways.
Without treatment, heroin withdrawal symptoms can be deadly. It’s arguably the single most difficult drug to quit due in large part to the fact that so few people can manage to get through the initial detox period without medical intervention. Complications during this time can cause death, and overdose is commonplace when patients relapse during these early months because they don’t have proper therapeutic supervision.
Crack is made from cocaine, but it is even more grippingly addictive than its powdery cousin. Smoking crack produces a much more swift and intense rush than snorting cocaine. According to The Fix, there were about 500,000 crack addicts in the US in 2010, yet only eight percent of addicts in recovery cited crack cocaine as their drug of choice in 2008.
Make no mistake: even though its use does not cause a rush or a high in the user like other substances, nicotine is a drug. Though people can manage to be functional at work and at home while addicted to the substance, it is very difficult to quit. The US Department of Health & Human Services reports that one in five people over the age of 12 smoke cigarettes in the United States, and that more than 20 million people in the US have lost their lives due to smoking since 1964. And that doesn’t even include the rates of addiction and death caused by the use of other nicotine products like smokeless tobacco.
Why is nicotine so addictive? Normal brain function is altered by constant use of nicotine, making it harder and harder to quit the longer one smokes.
The psychological cravings for crystal meth are arguably the most difficult to overcome. For most substances, these cravings are strongest in the first few weeks and then slowly fade over time. Cravings for crystal meth, however, do behave like this at first – but then pop up again between six months and a year later, seemingly out of nowhere, and take patients who are otherwise strong in recovery by surprise.
Heavy drinking, binge drinking, alcoholism – there are a number of levels of drinking and all of them bring harm to the drinker. Addiction, however, is very difficult to overcome if for no other reason than the fact that it is ubiquitous in our culture and alcohol is easily accessible to all who want it. Even those who manage to get through the serious withdrawal symptoms and overcome intense cravings will find it difficult to avoid the pitfall of believing that just one is safe in recovery.
You Can Quit Today
No matter how difficult it is to overcome drug and alcohol dependence, it is possible through professional treatment. Medical detox, around-the-clock support and long-term psychotherapeutic intervention can help anyone learn how to live without their drug of choice or any substances of abuse. Contact us at The Oaks at La Paloma today to learn more about how we can help you fight dependence upon any illicit substance.