The 5 Hardest Drugs to Kick

The 5 Hardest Drugs to Kick

When determining which drugs are the hardest drugs to kick, it is helpful to see which the most addictive drugs are. These two concepts are pretty much synonymous. This is because rate of dependence and severity of withdrawal symptoms have everything to do with trying to kick a nasty drug habit.

The following is a list of the 5 hardest drugs to kick, from least to greatest in difficulty. This list is based on a study put together by Dutch scientists who replicated a London study and devised a “dependency rating” that measures addictive potency of the biggest drugs out there. The scale of 0-to-3 shows how the hardest drugs to kick measure up.

#5 Crystal Meth 2.24

What makes crystal meth one of the hardest drugs to kick is that, like heroin and nicotine, meth also imitates dopamine, the reward chemical, and norepinephrine, the alertness chemical, causing your neurons to release more of both—all the while training your brain to want them more. But meth takes it a step further; it can damage dopamine- and norepinephrine-releasing neurons, which leads to a drastic decrease in their production, which makes you crave meth even more.

#4 Methadone 2.68

Basically legalized heroin, methadone is highly addictive because the way it works and is used as a treatment for heroin addiction is to build dependence. And in the case of methadone, dependence is the same as addiction.

Now, it is debatable whether methadone belongs at #4 on the list of hardest drugs to kick because, in my personal experience and from others who have shared their methadone experiences with me, I find it to be a much nastier drug to kick than heroin.

The withdrawals are hell on earth. Heroin withdrawal is said to be more acute but lasts for a much shorter period of time, about a week depending on usage and your body chemistry. Methadone withdrawal is really just as bad when it comes to the severity of the symptoms. What makes methadone harder to kick than heroin is that the withdrawal symptoms last for a longer period of time. And I mean a lot longer. For me it was about a month and a half before I started to feel normal again. Some people experience methadone withdrawal for even longer than that. Because of this, many people return to their drug use to feel better again, making methadone one of the top 5 hardest drugs to kick.

#3 Nicotine 2.82

Nicotine mimics chemicals that stimulate the “reward system” in the brain and then actually replaces them. Nicotine addiction occurs because this replacement causes your brain to make less of the naturally occurring good stuff and so the brain now needs nicotine to maintain normal functioning.

Statistics don’t lie: nicotine proves to be one of the hardest drugs to kick by the sheer number of nicotine addicts in the US: 50,000,000; and one in every five deaths nationwide are the result of smoking.

And actually, there is a tie for spots 2 and 3 which many may find surprising. That’s right, the study found that nicotine is just as hard to kick as crack cocaine.

#2 Crack Cocaine 2.82

Although crack is comprised of cocaine, smoking processed crack causes a faster, higher rush that lasts for less time than powder coke. The intensity of the crack high combined with the efficient method of use—smoking—are the big reasons why crack is number two in the top 5 hardest drugs to kick.

Crack addiction is dramatically higher than that of snorted cocaine powder. In 2010, there were an estimated 500,000 active crack cocaine addicts in the United States. And although not physical in nature, the psychological withdrawal symptoms from crack are intense and terrifying: hallucinations, severe anxiety, and depression.

#1 Heroin 2.89

Again, statistics show how heroin is one of the hardest drugs to kick. In the US in 2003, an estimated 281,000 people sought treatment for heroin addiction, and according to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, 23% of people who try heroin become full on addicts.

Heroin is easy to get hooked on. It reduces pain while at the same time causes pleasure. Who wouldn’t want to feel this way? By injecting, snorting or smoking heroin, you are training your brain to make you crave it. After you are physically dependent on heroin, the nasty withdrawal symptoms are enough to keep you coming back for more. It’s clear that heroin is the hardest drug to kick once you’re hooked on it.

 Honorable Mention(s):

Alcohol and Benzodiazepines

Both alcohol and benzos (such as Valium and Xanax) are also some of the hardest drugs to kick because the withdrawal symptoms that result from trying to kick cold turkey are very intense and even possibly fatal. People who stop using alcohol and benzos can experience hallucinations, sweats, anxiety, tremors, seizures, cardiac arrest and even death as a result of these symptoms.





Barbiturates Benzodiazepines


Barbiturates / Benzodiazepines

Barbiturates are part of a class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics. They are “downers”- central nervous system depressants. Barbiturates were very popular in the 60’s and 70’s and were mostly abused to reduce anxiety, decrease inhibitions, and treat unwanted effects of illicit drugs.

Benzodiazepines are a class of drug which is commonly used in a number of medical settings. Most commonly used as anti-anxiety medications, benzodiazepines are also used as sedatives, as anticonvulsant medications, and as muscle relaxants. Benzodiazepines are relatively safe and well-tolerated in the short term.

Barbiturates / Benzodiazepines: History

Barbiturates are very dangerous, and have a high potential for overdose, particularly when mixed with alcohol and other drugs. They are also highly addictive and have potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. For these reasons, barbiturates have fallen out of favor with the medical community, and are only very rarely used for medical purposes. Benzodiazepines have largely replaced barbiturates in medical settings. They are really only used in general anesthesia, for epilepsy, and for assisted suicide.

Predictably, the rates of barbiturate abuse have declined dramatically since these medications have been either pulled off the market or are just not prescribed anymore.  The exception is possibly high school students. A new study suggests that the rate of abuse among high school students may have risen slightly in the last ten years. Barbiturates are abused commonly to counteract the effects of other drugs (i.e. to come down from uppers like cocaine and methamphetamine) or in suicide attempts. The reason barbiturates are used so often in suicide attempts is that there is no direct antidote to barbiturates. Overdose can only be treated by supportive measures, which is another reason that barbiturates are so dangerous.

Barbiturates / Benzodiazepines: How they work

Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. The enhancement is responsible for producing the therapeutic effects of benzodiazepines and for facilitating many of the side effects as well as dependence and withdrawal from these drugs. Other sedative-hypnotics, such as alcohol and barbiturates, have a similar enhancing effect on GABA. This is why benzodiazepines are often used to treat alcohol withdrawal. It is also the reason that mixing benzodiazepines with alcohol or barbiturates can be deadly.

Barbiturates / Benzodiazepines: Side effects

Barbiturates and benzodiazepines decrease brain activity causing the person to feel more calm, drowsy, and/or peaceful. Because they have similar action as alcohol, the symptoms of barbiturate/benzodiazepine intoxication are similar to being drunk. In smaller doses, a person feels drowsy and uninhibited. In larger doses, barbiturates/benzodiazepines result in staggering, slurred speech, and confusion.

Common side effects of barbiturates/benzodiazepines include: drowsiness, dizziness, decreased alertness/concentration, depression, hypotension (low blood pressure), decreased libido, nausea, changes in appetite, euphoria, and nightmares.

Barbiturates / Benzodiazepines: Date Rape

Barbiturates /benzodiazepines have also been used as a “date rape” drug because they can markedly impair functions that normally allow a person to resist sexual aggression or assault. Also, barbiturates/benzodiazepines commonly cause drug induced short term amnesia, especially when mixed with alcohol. These properties make barbiturates/benzodiazepines effective in drug-facilitated sexual assaults.