The list is both extremely serious, and potentially endless. Drug addiction can make any single person fall down to the dregs of society, no matter their standing.

That said, almost any danger is largely determined by surroundings. You hardly need to worry about imminent death while standing outside in the middle of London during rush hour, but being caught in a burning building is another story. Having antidotes to deadly snake venoms seems strange if you live in a suburban neighborhood in New England, but not if you’re traveling around the outback of Australia. Just the same, the danger of drug use is heavily influenced by laws governing drug use.

Here, herehere, and, the wikipedia article: varied sources on the effects of Portugal’s groundbreaking legislation to decriminalize small amounts of drugs in 2001. The above graph speaks volumes. The United States still lives through archaic, draconian idealism that is far removed with the actual dynamics of drug use. And for that, droves of people whom would otherwise be alive today, have died. But, if you live in the United States, this should serve as a warning: drug use is likely to get you killed – more than twice as likely as the fourth-most lethal country to be in if one uses drugs.

As for opinions on this, I will only copy the latest Global Commission on Drug Policy, which urges decriminalization. As it is, drug users face…

  • Legal troubles
    • Driving while intoxicated
      • Possibly leading to manslaughter (killing a pedestrian without intent), and plenty of prison time
    • Not being able to be with one’s child/children
    • Buying drugs
    • Possessing drugs
    • Selling drugs
    • Stealing in order to get drugs
    • Conning people in order to get drugs

Here we have a image of controlled substances – recreational drugs – split up into different “schedules”. The lower the schedule, the more illegal it is to be associated with on an illegal basis. For instance, from a legal standpoint, it’s much worse to be caught with pregabalin (Lyrica), which is a schedule V substance, than with methylphenidate (Ritalin), which is a schedule II substance.

And here we have an example of a how a state (Virginia) takes legal action against controlled substances (illegal drug) offenders. The lower the schedule, the higher the penalty.

  •  Suicide
    • Drug addicts kill themselves at a higher rate
    • Those with substance abuse are six times more likely than the rest of the population, to attempt suicide
  • Having little or no money
    • Disregarding health at the expense of getting more drugs
    • Being in debt to violent criminals
  • Issues with schoolwork
    • Drugs tend to decrease grades
  • Being in physical danger
    • Operating heavy machinery (such as a car) while high
  • Other health issues
    • Mental health issues
      • For instance, 15% of those who experienced stimulant psychosis, do not make a full recovery
    • Physical health issues
      • Contracting HIV from using a dirty needle
  • Family conflicts
    • Divorce
      • Not being granted any custody of a child
    • Being labeled an outcast by one’s family
    • Losing all support of family and friends
  • Having to sleep outside
  • Being assaulted and/or raped
  • Becoming very sick from a filling agent
  • Contracting HIV, and another of STI’s that require medicine and/or aren’t curable
  • Not tending to physical health

In the United States, more than one person per minute dies from drugs.

Every year in America, addiction prematurely claims the lives of men, women, and children, to the tune of…

  • Alcohol: 80,000
  • Tobacco: 443,000
  • Cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine: 10,000

For every five people needing hospital care, almost two are there due to tobacco-related health issues, one in four for alcohol.

These two images above need no explanation of how they pertain. It has already been established that drug addiction is overall very dangerous

Most of the rest of this section is dedicated to…

  1. Recreational drug comparison
  2. Providing information so that if one does begin trying substances, they do so with the utmost caution

The percentage of people who become dependent after trying a given substance one or more times:

  • Tobacco: 32%
  • Heroin: 23%
  • Cocaine: 17%
  • Alcohol: 15%
  • Stimulants: 11%
  • Anxiolytics (anxiety-reducers, mainly benzodiazepines): 9%
  • Marijuana: 9%

Another, more simple way to find out about the various risks that accompany drug use, is to view them in graph form. Of course, these charts don’t tell everything, but as a general guide, they’re invaluable.

Regarding our first one…

  • The fine print suggests that it “most likely does not accurately reflect your own personal views”
    • But the chart has value because it was done in an ethnographic manner, centered around drug users
    • This means that it should be somewhat accurate in assessing morality
  • Apart from that, “context-dependent acceptability” seems a bit vague
    • The use of almost any drug would be acceptable in a certain context, right?
    • Perhaps, the meaning was that the given drug best fits in the given designation, but that that designation requires it to be taken in a certain manner by certain people
  • Additionally, those who know about the danger of “ecstacy” or MDMA, probably wouldn’t place it as socially acceptable as the chart suggests
    • But again, I guess this is society overall
  • Similarly, ketamine is just about on the brink of being socially acceptable
    • People with treatment-resistant depression will be offered it soon, on a decently wide scale

A few aspects of the below rankings stand out

  • The harm to others for alcohol, the most harm-causing drug in this graph, causes about twice as much harm to others as the second ranked substance, heroin
  • It’s difficult to believe that methamphetamine causes such little harm to others, several times fewer than it’s less-harmful cousin, amphetamine
  • Study after study after study suggests that “ecstasy” (MDMA) is neurotoxic, persistent even after abstinence. It is not, however, without contentions, even including a systematic review deeming it apparently safe in “moderate” use. However, on the contrary, that same study argued that “our systematic review does not allow the conclusion that MDMA is not neurotoxic in moderate use, as possible alterations caused by MDMA might not be detectable with the techniques used, some of the included studies were not specifically designed to investigate neurotoxic effects of MDMA…”
    • And yet still, Nutt’s chart suggests that cannabis is twice as harmful, and that ketamine is about 150% as harmful, as MDMA
  • It’s also strange that LSD is more harmful than buprenorphine, give that it’s a strong opioid
  • First off, nicotine is not very addictive, tobacco is
    • If nicotine were as powerful as tobacco, there would be virtually no tobacco smokers, and a hell of a lot more electronic cigarette users
    • I didn’t have that much of a withdrawal after I was using a medium to large amount of dip tobacco, and a huge amount of nicotine liquid, when I went in the hospital
      • I didn’t rush back to it after I was discharges
  • Alcoholism is just as bad, or worse, as some hard addictions
    • That said, most people can use it responsibly
    • The chart is a bit misleading, as was Nutt’s (the first graph)
  • Lastly, caffeine has  pretty strong withdrawal syndrome
    • Some people literally can’t function without it
    • From my experience and reading, caffeine will have a worse withdrawal syndrome than marijuana
  • Therapeutic ratio: The amount needed to produce effects, over the amount that leads to death
    • For instance, one line of cocaine gets someone high, but 15 lines kills them
  • Clearly, hallucinogens are overall very physically safe, more so than aspirin
    • And furthermore, are promising in treating mental illness
    • As such, schedule I doesn’t make sense
  • Strange that three out of the five most physically dangerous drugs (60%), are legal drugs

The different ways of ingesting drugs bear on the concentration/activity of the drug at different times. For instance, crack produces a huge spike in activity that lasts for a very short amount of time. Drinking a few cups of coffee throughout the work day produces a gradual lift, and as graceful a fall.

Sources: Stephen Komor, Ben Komor, Dr. Michael Kuhar, Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach, Dr. Theodore Papperman, Ben Komor, DSM-IV, The National Institute of Health, The Addicted Brain,, Uppers, Downers, All Arounders: Physical and Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs,, Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology, The Lancet, The Atlantic,,, Dr. Michael Kuhar,,,