Answer: It doesn’t work like that.

Most people think that some drugs are more addictive than others, but that’s not really correct. The incidence of addiction to most any drug is around 10%, no matter which drug we are talking about. The route of administration can have an effect on the “addictiveness of a drug,” however.  For example, drugs that are smoked or injected have more addictive potential than drugs that are swallowed.

TRANSLATION: smoking cocaine has more addictive potential than snorting cocaine. This is because the chemical gets in and out of the brain faster from smoking than from snorting.

I often hear parents say things like, “If you try meth or heroin, even one time, you will get addicted to it.”

Fortunately, this isn’t really true. It may seem like this is the case, but actually that is more probably due to the fact that most people don’t try these substances until they are already addicted.

We hear so many bad things about people that are addicted to things like meth or heroin, so we think that means they are so much more addictive. In reality, most people have been addicted for a long time before they use these drugs. The drug itself just represents the bottom of the addictive cycle, because as individuals build more tolerance on drugs they become less effective and then they have to go to stronger drugs.

It just appears that these drugs cause more problems, the truth is that the individuals that use them are just further along on their addiction journey.

Honestly, it’s harder to get people to stop using things like marijuana and alcohol because people have the idea that they aren’t as big of a problem.

The idea that some drugs aren’t as problematic causes big problems, because addicted individuals think they are safer using these substances, when in actuality these drugs are very dangerous to them.

In Summary…

Addiction occurs due to external and internal circumstances related to the person (not the drug itself).  While it is tempting to use these scary statements to try to keep kids away from drugs, I don’t believe in using scare tactics. I think it will only diminish one’s credibility. Most kids will think you are lying to them about everything, if they find out you weren’t right about a statement like this. It just makes them not believe anything you say.

When individuals have imbalances in particular brain chemicals, they are more prone to addiction.

This imbalance can be caused by lots of things. Underlying mental health disorders, genetics, recent major loss or disappointment, big life transitions, etc.

The question really should be, “which kinds of situations are most likely to trigger addictive behaviors?” rather than, “which drug is most addictive?”