Medically Reviewed

8 Most Common Drug Addictions

- 9 sections

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Addiction is a compulsive behavior towards a substance or activity that invokes pleasure and continuous use – despite negative consequences. When conversations come up about addiction, tobacco, alcohol, and drug addiction are the first that typically come to mind. Addiction is classed as a chronic disease of the brain. This medical condition or mental illness calls for treatment, much like any other disease or illness. Here, we will cover the 8 most common addictions in order for you to spot your own addictions or those of a loved one – and to seek a trusted treatment program.


Tobacco (Nicotine) Addiction

Nicotine addiction may not seem as harmful as the other various addictions. This is due, in part, because tobacco products are legal, easy to acquire, and generally socially acceptable. Furthermore, the worst side effects of abusing tobacco products – containing nicotine – take a much longer time to develop. A recent survey shows approximately 40 million Americans are addicted to tobacco. Tobacco use is responsible for claiming more lives than any other addictive substance. As a result, it is one of the most common addictions out there. Despite the fact that smokers are aware of the harmful effects of its abuse, many find it almost impossible to get past the urge to quit. This is a clear indication that tobacco addiction is an ongoing problem.


Alcohol Addiction

Due to the societal acceptance of alcohol consumption, alcohol addiction is often hard to spot. Alcohol is legal and easily accessible. Therefore, the potential for abuse and addiction is much higher than other substances. Alcohol addiction exposes consumers to numerous health risks. Furthermore, The World Health Organization states that alcohol contributes to at least 60 types of disease and injuries. Liver disease, car crashes, violence, kidney failure, and violence are just a few examples of the risks associated with alcoholism. Alcohol addiction continues to rise as a direct result of lower costs and easy access to the substance. Consuming copious amounts of alcohol can lead to overdose, ultimately resulting in death. The availability and acceptance of alcohol make this common addiction particularly worrisome.

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Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most commonly cultivated, used, and trafficked illicit substance. Legalized in several states throughout the U.S., marijuana use has become more socially acceptable than ever before. However, that does not take away from the potential risks of abuse. Marijuana addiction has been on the rise for many years due to an increase in potency. Marijuana has the potential to impair physical performance, cognitive development, worsen schizophrenia, and many other underlying mental health conditions. 



Painkiller Addiction

Prescription opioid medications such as codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Dilaudid are commonly prescribed to treat main. There are several drugs prescribed by doctors to help alleviate pain, but just because these medications are prescribed does not mean they are free of addictive properties. Many individuals may take seemingly harmless levels of painkillers. However, this may lead to tolerance and eventually addiction. Most people do not realize they are addicted to prescription painkillers until they attempt to stop taking them. The individual will often experience a tolerance to the medication and ultimately experience painful withdrawal symptoms. Painkiller addiction can turn into a difficult addiction to cure, but it is one of the most common addictions in the United States.


Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a white, powdery illicit substance that is highly addictive. Even though the rates of cocaine addiction have steadily declined, there are still thousands of Americans who continue to abuse the drug. Cocaine addiction leads to a variety of complicated health problems, most specifically related to the heart. Crack cocaine is a free base form of the substance that is typically mixed with baking soda or other cheap substances. Cocaine addiction can be potentially fatal and is responsible for many crippling addictions that continue to ruin the lives of many Americans. 



Heroin Addiction

When many people think of addiction, heroin is often the most common addiction that people think of. It’s also one of the most deadly. After all, a single dose of heroin has the potential to cultivate addiction. Many people assume that if they try heroin once or twice, they will be able to stop. However, these people are often ignorant of how damaging and potentially fatal this drug is. Heroin withdrawals are some of the most horrible symptoms of any addiction, making it even more difficult for users to break the habit. Heroin addiction leads to many complex health issues such as kidney disease, liver failure, bacterial heart infections, and even lung problems. It may also lead to HIV, hepatitis B, and C, as well as overdose. Heroin overdose has become more common as heroin manufacturers continue to mix their trafficked heroin with other substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil. Heroin withdrawal typically requires a combination of therapy and detoxification medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawals and cravings.



Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepines or “Benzos” are prescription mood-regulating drugs such as Valium, Xanax, Diazepam, and Klonopin. These prescription medications are used to treat conditions such as anxiety, stress, and PTSD. Many users do not realize they are addicted to these drugs until they attempt to stop taking the medication and are unable to function. Benzodiazepines are especially dangerous due to the powerful impact on the brain’s functionality and chemical production. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be fatal without medical intervention during the detoxification process.


Stimulant Addiction

Stimulants range from prescription medications such as Adderall or Ritalin to illicit substances such as meth. Stimulants cause an increase in focus, energy levels, confidence, and an influx of the “happy chemical” dopamine within the brain. The combination of these side effects makes these drugs highly addictive. Intense withdrawal symptoms often include severe depression, extreme fatigue, and lack of concentration makes quitting stimulant use very difficult. Stimulant abusers generally build a tolerance to the substance’s euphoric and seemingly invincible “high”, therefore stimulant users are at risk of overdose. 


Addiction Treatment at PAX Memphis

No matter the type of substance, it is possible to recover from addiction. The first step towards recovery is accepting that you have a problem and entering into a drug and alcohol treatment program. Our compassionate staff at PAX Memphis has been serving the community and leading the journey to an addiction-free lifestyle for many years. Our individualized programs and treatment plans are designed to suit the needs of each client with a comprehensive approach to treating the disease of addiction. If you or someone you love is suffering from any type of addiction, call us today and begin your journey to sobriety!