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There are many addictive substances in this world. Some are so common you can buy them with your milk and eggs. Others are illegal or not socially accepted. But all addictive substances can cause dependence and harm in your life. 

So what are some of the most common addictive substances?

Tobacco (Nicotine)

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  • Nicotine is the main addictive ingredient in tobacco.

  • Tobacco products are legal in most countries and easy to get.

  • Tobacco use takes more lives than any other addictive substance .

  • Although nicotine itself doesn't cause cancer, many of the chemicals in tobacco do.

  • There are more than 480,000 deaths related to tobacco use every year in the US.

Alcohol

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  • Like tobacco, alcohol is legal and accessible.

  • Since drinking is so common, alcohol addiction can be hard to identify.

  • Alcohol abuse can have many negative consequences such as liver disease and overdose.

  • Driving while intoxicated also kills thousands of people every year.

Quiz

Alcohol addiction can lead to long-term heavy consumption which causes:

Cannabis

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  • Marijuana is legal in some countries and punishable by death in others.

  • While marijuana is not physically addictive like alcohol or nicotine, it can be psychologically addictive.

  • For some people, marijuana withdrawal is similar to nicotine withdrawal. They can experience an increase in irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, and trouble sleeping.

Opioids

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  • Opioids are drugs that block feelings of pain so people can experience relief from surgery and other medical conditions.

  • Opioids include substances such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.  

  • Even though opiates are often prescribed by doctors, they are addictive and dangerous.

  • Because of their powerful effect on brain chemistry, they are one of the most abused medications.

Quiz

WDeaths in the US involving prescription opioids increased by how much between 1999 and 2018?

Stimulants

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  • Stimulants speed up a person’s body functioning abilities.

  • Stimulants include drugs like cocaine, crack, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.

  • Like opioids, this class of drugs includes both legal and illegal substances, all of which can be abused.

  • Stimulant use can cause heart attack, sudden death, organ damage, brain damage and death.

Quiz

Which is an example of a prescription stimulant?

Sedatives

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  • Sedatives usually treat anxiety and sleep issues.

  • They are a type of prescription medication that slows down your brain activity.

  • They include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and hypnotics.

  • Sedatives are classified as “controlled substances” because of their potential for misuse and abuse and their euphoric effects.

  • While many people will use sedatives as prescribed, many others will struggle with sedative abuse and addiction.

Quiz

Can you legally drive while using sedatives?

Summary

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Many addictive substances can be found in a grocery aisle or even in your own medicine cabinet. If you aren't sure if you should take action to control your substance use, ask yourself:

  • Have you ever tried to stop using alcohol, nicotine, or drugs and failed? Or experienced withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop?

  • Do you have trouble getting through the day or week without using alcohol, nicotine, or drugs? Do you spend a majority of your day thinking about using these substances?

  • Have you ever run out of a prescription before you should have? Or used someone else's prescription?

It can be hard to acknowledge that you are addicted to a substance. If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be struggling with an addiction. Reaching out to a trained professional for help is a good idea.

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This Byte has been authored by

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Margaret Proffitt

Learning Designer | Travel Junkie | Book Lover