Knowing the most addictive types of recreational drugs may help you avoid a life-threatening addiction

One of the contributing factors that has led to the alarmingly high number of addicts in this country is the mistaken belief that recreational drugs are safe as long as they are only used occasionally. The truth is that it is possible to become addicted to certain drugs after using them just a few times. According to a 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, out of the 27 million individuals who used recreational drugs in the past year, more than 20 million became so addicted that they qualified as having a substance use disorder. Learning what the most addictive types of recreational drugs are may help you or a loved one avoid the devastating effects of drug addiction.


Alcohol is the most addictive recreational drug used in the United States. Alcohol is often considered to be safer than other drugs because it is legal for adults to consume, but there are actually more people addicted to alcohol than to all other types of recreational drugs combined. Survey results show that 15.7 million people were addicted to alcohol in the past year. That means that more than 75 percent of the people who had a substance abuse disorder were addicted to alcohol. Users enjoy the relaxing, euphoric effects of alcohol, but many find that they need ever-increasing amounts to experience the initial high they first enjoyed.

Recreational illicit drugs

7.7 million people were addicted to illicit (or illegal) recreational drugs in 2015. A closer look at the most common types of drugs and their effects reveals just how dangerously addictive these drugs are, and highlights why taking them on a recreational basis is never a good idea. The most addictive recreational drugs include:

  • Cocaine
    Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that suppresses appetite and creates a euphoric, manic feeling. Cocaine can cause a heart attack, stroke, or seizures even with short-term use, and actually alters brain structure with long term use.
  • Crack cocaine or ice
    This is the most addictive from of cocaine. Crack cocaine creates an intense euphoria that quickly dissipates and leaves users wanting another hit almost immediately.
  • Heroin
    Around 600,000 people in the U.S. are addicted to heroin, an opioid drug which creates a relaxed, euphoric effect. Heroin addiction has become a major concern in recent years, fueled by the rising number of prescription pain pill addicts who turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative.
  • Hallucinogens
    LSD, PCP, peyote, and mescaline are some of the most widely used hallucinogenic drugs. These addictive drugs distort perception and cause users to see, hear, or feel things that not there.
  • Inhalants
    Common household products that contain aerosols, solvents, and gases are highly addictive when deliberately inhaled. Inhalant addiction causes neurological effects that can be permanent Popular inhalants include spray paints, glues, and cleaning fluids.

Recreational prescription drugs

Prescription medications may be safe when taken as prescribed, but these drugs can be extremely addictive when taken on a recreational basis. The three types of recreational prescription drugs that are most addictive include:

  • Prescription opioids
    Medications intended to treat pain create a relaxed, euphoric effect that can be highly addictive when taken by recreational users. Unintentional overdoses of opioid pain relievers are responsible for more deaths than car accidents. Examples include OxyContin, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Percocet, and Morphine
  • Prescription sedatives
    Sedative medications includes tranquilizers such as Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax as well as Halcion and other sleep medications. Sedatives depress the central nervous system and produce calm, euphoric, drowsy sensations that can cause recreational users to become addicted after just a few uses. The long-term effects of prescription sedative addiction can include cravings that persist for years after quitting.
  • Prescription stimulants
    Adderall, Ritalin, and other prescription stimulant drugs enhance focus and create a heightened alertness. An estimated 426,000 people were addicted to prescription stimulants in the past year.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.