Drugs of Addiction

Drugs of Addiction

Many different drugs of addiction exist, all with different potentials for abuse, dependence and addiction.

An Overview:

  • Many different drugs of addiction exist.
  • The addiction potential of a drug is often linked to physical dependence on the drug.
  • Addiction often starts when a person craves larger and more frequent doses of a substance.
  • Addiction and overdoses have surged in Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Table of Contents

Addictive Drugs

Many different addictive drugs exist, with similarities and differences between them. Although they are all addictive, the potential for abuse between them varies. Someone’s personal risk factors for becoming addicted to a drug can also vary. Understanding these phenomena is key to understanding becoming addicted to these substances.

What Makes These Drugs Addictive?

To understand what makes drugs addictive, it is important to first understand what addiction is: compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences. 

Often, addiction occurs because a person becomes physically dependent on a substance. In physical dependence, a person cannot stop taking a substance without unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. In addition, taking the substance may trigger the brain’s reward system. This leads to a cycle where a person may feel good if they take a drug and may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop.

The Drug Enforcement Administration schedules both legal and illicit substances by addiction potential. Drugs that impact the brain and body and put a person at high risk of abuse, dependence and addiction are Schedule I (illicit) or Schedule II (legal) drugs. Drugs with a lower addiction potential are Schedule III, IV, and V.

How Addiction Often Starts: Causes & Risk Factors

When a person starts taking drugs — whether prescribed or illicit — they may start feeling like they need bigger and more frequent doses to get the same effect as when they first started the drug. This can snowball, causing people to take increasingly high doses of potent drugs. Heroin use is an example. Overall, 75% of heroin users state that the first opioid they took was through a prescription.

Many different addiction risk factors exist. Some of the risk factor categories include:

  • Community risk factors: Living in a high-crime area where drug use is common is a risk factor for drug abuse and addiction.
  • Minority status risk factors: Cultural and language barriers, as well as low societal expectations, can increase the risk of drug use.
  • Family status risk factors: Parental abuse, neglect and familial substance use are risk factors for drug use.
  • Personal vulnerability: A person may have individual characteristics making them more prone to drug abuse. These include physical and mental health problems.
  • Problems in childhood and adolescence: Struggles during a person’s early years can put them at risk for drug abuse. These include emotional and self-esteem problems, dropping out of school and vulnerability to peer pressure.

What is Addiction? Questions to Ask Yourself if You Think You Have a Problem (Video)

Ohio’s Drug Problem 

Ohio’s drug problem has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although overdose deaths in Ohio had been declining before COVID-19, the pandemic reversed that trend. Drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased 16% in 2020 over the previous year. Further, annual overdose deaths in Ohio reached a high in 2020 that had not been seen since 2017. Many of these deaths were attributed to drugs contaminated with the strong opioid fentanyl. 

Drug seizures by Ohio police also stayed high in 2020. In Cuyahoga County alone, police made 1,720 fentanyl seizures and 2,494 methamphetamine seizures. Ohio drug seizures in 2020 reached records for drugs like:

  • Marijuana
  • Opioids
  • Depressants
  • Stimulants
  • Hallucinogens

The Recovery Village Columbus is dedicated to facing Ohio’s drug addiction crisis and providing evidence-based, compassionate care to those in need of addiction treatment. Treatment programs are personalized to meet each patient’s unique needs, often beginning with medical detox and culminating in a robust aftercare program to support lifelong recovery. 

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.