Nicotine listed by experts as among the most addictive substances


… but not as one of the most damaging drugs on Earth, a big oversight on their part.

This is a story from the Conversation, based on a survey done with substance abuse experts about the most addictive substances on Earth … and nicotine makes the cut.

It’s important to always keep this in mind about while tobacco is so evil … the sheer physical addictiveness of nicotine. I’ve often said that it’s arguably as addictive as heroin … I can’t imagine there’s really a way to measure such a thing. I just base this on anecdotal information I gather from smokers about how incredibly grueling and physically difficult it is to quit smoking. People tell me it just wracks their bodies trying to quit.


I also believe, and some studies support this, that there is a genetic component to nicotine addiction, which could explain why some people are able to quit smoking while others simply … cannot … do … it. So, it’s not about willpower or that somehow some people are just stranger than others.

Anyway, the five most addictive substances mentioned int his article are:

  1. Heroin
  2. Alcohol
  3. Cocaine
  4. Barbiturates
  5. Nicotine

Now this story doesn’t talk about meth, which is another incredibly addictive drug, but it does mention that meth is closely related to cocaine, so I suppose the author is bundling them together.

One thing I don’t agree with this story: It states that heroin is the second-most damaging drug in the world in terms of damage to  users and society. Alcohol is listed as the most damaging with an estimated 3 million deaths caused worldwide in 2012. Cocaine is listed as the third-most damaging drug..

These experts claim that nicotine is the 12th most addictive drug on Earth — again, how that is measured, I don’t know. And I don’t have a clue what the other 11 substances would be; only four are mentioned in this story.

And they don’t even list it as the most damaging drugs, this is where I disagree … even though the current death toll from tobacco is 6 million people a year worldwide, double the death toll from the so-called No. 1 most damaging drug, alcohol. By 2030, an estimated 8 million people will die every year from tobacco-related diseases.

I won’t dismiss the staggering damage done by alcoholism, not only from alcohol-related diseases, but domestic violence, murders and DUI wrecks caused by drinking.  But, I would argue that nicotine does more damage to society than cocaine, heroin and barbiturates combined.  Here’s where I don’t agree with this story’s logic. In the U.S. at least, tobacco kills more people than alcohol, cocaine, heroin, barbiturates and other illegal drugs combined … like by a pretty sizable margin. Tobacco kills 440,000 people a year in the U.S., while alcohol kills about 110,000 people a year (and this includes DUIs) and Illegal drugs only kill about 20,000 people a year. So, we’re talking three times as many die as a result of tobacco than from alcohol and illegal drugs combined. I’m glad this article talked about nicotine, but I just can’t see how you can dismiss the damage done by nicotine and tobacco and this article did that a bit, in my opinion.

This doesn’t take into account other kinds of damage done to society, such as legal costs, incarceration, drug cartel violence, people losing their jobs and families, etc., from drug use and drinking. But, in terms of death and sheer health costs … nicotine and tobacco are No. 1, in my opinion.

Anyway, it was an interesting article even if i didn’t totally agree with it. Nicotine needs to be very much spoken in the same context as alcohol and illegal drugs as far as the damage done by it.


One thought on “Nicotine listed by experts as among the most addictive substances”

  1. Why does the government breed tobacco seed varieties rich in nicotine and ban by law low nicotine tobacco seed varieties ? Why does FDA allow cigarettes to be sold when they are known to cause death?

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