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Addiction is a huge problem in the 21st century. Heroin, cocaine, tobacco and methamphetamine all present a conundrum. And with even more dangerous mind altering drugs like Bath Salts being used now there is an increasing need to understand addiction so we can counter it. Here are the five most addictive substances on earth and what they do to our brains.
This is the stuff that makes tobacco addictive. It is estimated that around two thirds of Americans who smoke become dependent on the stuff. And the WHO released a report in 2002 highlighting that there might be a billion smokers on the planet. By 2030, 8 million people will die annually as a result of smoking. Even mice are addicted to the stuff. They will press a button to have it injected in to their bloodstream. This usually results in a spike of dopamine in the reward centers of the brain by 25-40%.
These were originally medicine to induce sleep but were used to induce euphoria as addiction became more prevalent. They are fatal in large doses because they suppress breathing by numbing the brain signals. They’ve become very scarcely available now though so the addiction rate is down.
This baby interferes with the dopamine used to convey messages from one neuron to another. Essentially it can stop the dopamine signal from turning off. The cocaine industry is globally worth around $75 billion and 21% of people who take it will become dependent at some point in their lives.
Here comes the devil’s swill itself. Alcohol causes 22% of takers to become dependent and can increase the dopamine levels in your brain by 40-360%. Around 3 million people died in 2012 due to alcohol related ailments.
Heroin is the big one. It causes the levels of dopamine in the brain to get as high as 200%. A fatal dose is only five times that which can cause a high. It’s exceedingly dangerous to take at all.