50 Of The Most Addictive Drugs

people standing around large letters D-R-U-G-S

There are numerous substances that can be addictive, as they have the potential to alter brain chemistry and lead to dependency. However, not everyone who uses these substances will necessarily become addicted; many factors contribute to addiction, including genetics, environment, psychological traits, and the specific drug’s characteristics.

Brain Alteration

The key point is that almost any substance that alters brain function has the potential to be abused and to lead to addiction. It’s also worth noting that these substances can have serious health risks beyond their potential for addiction.


This legal drug can lead to physical and psychological dependence and is associated with various health issues, including liver disease and mental health disorders.

people posing around the letters of the word DRUGS


This highly addictive substance is found in tobacco products, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.


This includes marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids. While marijuana is legal in some jurisdictions, it can still lead to dependence in some users.


This category includes both legal drugs, like prescription pain relievers (e.g., Oxycodone, Hydrocodone), and illegal drugs, like heroin. These substances are highly addictive and can lead to severe health consequences.


This category includes cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs used to treat ADHD (like Adderall and Ritalin). Stimulants can lead to both physical and psychological dependence.


Substances like LSD, magic mushrooms (psilocybin), and peyote can lead to psychological addiction.


This includes drugs like PCP, ketamine, and DXM. These substances have addictive properties and can lead to severe psychological problems.


Substances like paint thinners, glue, and other volatile substances can lead to both physical and psychological addiction.

Sedatives, Hypnotics, and Anxiolytics

These include prescription drugs like barbiturates, benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium), and sleep medications (like Ambien).

Club Drugs

Substances like MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB, and Rohypnol can be addictive.

A legal stimulant that can lead to physical dependence.

Prescription medications
Apart from those mentioned above, other prescription drugs can also be addictive. This includes certain antidepressants, antipsychotics, and other medications.

  1. Synthetic Cannabinoids

    These are man-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked (herbal incense) or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes or other devices (liquid incense). Examples include Spice, K2.

Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts)
These are synthetic drugs that are similar to a stimulant found in the khat plant. Examples include Flakka, Bloom, Cloud Nine.

This is a group of non-benzodiazepine drugs with effects similar to benzodiazepines, which includes Zolpidem (Ambien), Zaleplon (Sonata), and Eszopiclone (Lunesta).

Anabolic Steroids
While they’re not addictive in the same sense as many of the substances listed above, some people can develop a behavioral addiction to anabolic steroids, continuing to abuse them despite experiencing negative physical and psychological effects.

Designer Drugs
These are synthetic substances that have been designed to mimic the effects of other illegal drugs. They are often sold as “legal” alternatives to these drugs, but can be just as dangerous and addictive. Examples include synthetic cannabinoids (often sold as “Spice” or “K2”), synthetic cathinones (often sold as “bath salts”), and novel synthetic opioids.

Kratom is a plant native to Southeast Asia that has psychoactive properties. It’s often used as a stimulant or a substitute for opioids. The FDA has warned about its potential for addiction.

Khat is a plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Chewing its leaves has stimulant effects. It can be addictive and is illegal in many countries.

Betel Nut
This is a substance commonly used in some cultures, particularly in Asia and the Pacific Islands. Chewing the nut produces a stimulant effect, and prolonged use can lead to dependence.

This is a solvent that can be found in many household and industrial products. It can be inhaled to produce a high, and repeated use can lead to addiction.

Dextromethorphan (DXM)
This is an over-the-counter cough suppressant that can produce a high at high doses. It can be addictive and is often abused by teenagers.

A plant native to Mexico, when its leaves are chewed or smoked, it produces intense hallucinogenic experiences. While not generally considered addictive, it can be misused.

A psychoactive brew or tea often used in traditional spiritual medicine in the Amazon region. The primary active ingredient, DMT, is a powerful hallucinogen.

A naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants in the Apocynaceae family. It has been used in ritual and ceremonial practices by African tribal cultures. It’s also been investigated for potential use in treating addiction to opioids.

Synthetic Phenethylamines
This is a large class of drugs that includes substances like 2C-B, 2C-I, and NBOMes, which are designed to mimic the effects of drugs like ecstasy or LSD.

Methoxetamine (MXE)
A synthetic substance based on the chemical structure of ketamine, with similar effects.
Desomorphine (Krokodil)
An opiate that’s more potent and much faster-acting than morphine. It has been associated with severe tissue damage and is considered highly dangerous.

A central nervous system depressant with anxiolytic and sedative effects. It’s used as a medication in some places, but not in the U.S. It has potential for misuse and withdrawal can be severe.

Mephedrone (4-MMC)
Often referred to as “meow meow” or “m-cat,” this synthetic stimulant drug of the amphetamine and cathinone classes is similar to ecstasy.

Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)
While not completely uncommon, it’s often associated with instances of drug-facilitated sexual assault. It’s a central nervous system depressant.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
An over-the-counter antihistamine with sedative properties, it has been misused for its hallucinogenic effects at high doses.

A powerful, fast-acting sedative often used in hospitals for anesthesia. Misuse can lead to fatal respiratory depression.

Fentanyl Analogs
This includes carfentanil, acetylfentanyl, and other synthetic opioids that are more potent than morphine and have a high potential for fatal overdose.

These are substances, drugs, or supplements that claim to improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals. Examples include Modafinil, Noopept, Phenylpiracetam. While not all nootropics are addictive, some have the potential for misuse.

This category of drugs is characterized by inducing delirium, as opposed to most hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs, which often produce more lucid states of consciousness. Examples include certain antihistamines in high doses (like Diphenhydramine and Dimenhydrinate) and plants of the Datura genus.

These are a class of drugs that have been used as anti-parasitics and antidepressants, but some have been developed as recreational drugs. Examples include BZP and TFMPP.

Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric)
A type of mushroom that has hallucinogenic properties.

A type of fungus that grows on grains. In high amounts, it can cause hallucinations.

Amphetamines: Prescription amphetamines, like Adderall and Dexedrine, have therapeutic uses but can also be misused and become addictive.

Methaqualone (Quaaludes)
A sedative-hypnotic drug that was popular in the 1970s. It’s now largely off the market but can still be found in some places and has potential for misuse and addiction.

Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL) & 1,4-Butanediol
These are precursors to GHB that, once ingested, convert to GHB in the body. They are often sold as industrial solvents but can be misused for their intoxicating effects.

This is a stimulant drug that was previously used as an appetite suppressant, but due to concerns about misuse and addiction, it’s now rarely used.

A stimulant drug that is closely related to methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin. It’s often sold as a “research chemical” and has potential for misuse.

Synthetic Opioids
Apart from Fentanyl and its analogs, there are other synthetic opioids like U-47700 and MT-45 that have been associated with misuse and addiction.

2C series drugs
These are a family of synthetic psychedelic substances originally synthesized by Alexander Shulgin, including 2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-E, and others. While not necessarily “addictive” in the traditional sense, they can be misused.

DOx series drugs
Another family of synthetic psychedelic substances including DOB, DOC, DOI, and others. Similar to the 2C series, they are not typically considered addictive but can be misused.

This is a family of substances that includes naturally occurring compounds like psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms) and DMT (found in ayahuasca), as well as synthetic substances like 4-AcO-DMT and 5-MeO-DiPT.

This is a potent and long-lasting psychedelic drug that’s related to the phenethylamine family.

This is a family of dissociative substances that includes phencyclidine (PCP), ketamine, and many “research chemical” dissociatives like 3-MeO-PCP and MXE.


It’s crucial to note that many of these substances are not only addictive but can also cause severe harm or even death, particularly when taken without medical supervision or mixed with other substances. Even substances that aren’t typically addictive can still be harmful if misused. Always consult a healthcare professional for accurate information.

Remember that just because a substance isn’t listed here doesn’t mean it can’t be addictive or harmful. The potential for a substance to be misused and lead to addiction can depend on many factors, and even substances that aren’t typically considered “drugs” can still be misused and harmful. Always consult with healthcare professionals for accurate information about substances and their potential risks.

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