Most Dangerous Drugs in the World

Drug abuse is a significant problem in the United States and the wider world, and it’s only getting worse. Though many people presume that drug abuse occurs primarily through illegal substances, this is not true. Many of the most dangerous drugs are actually legal prescription drugs.

Sadly, abusing dangerous drugs gives way to potential short and long-term health complications, not to mention addiction and the risk of overdose. Across the United States, fatal overdoses are the leading cause of substance abuse death.

If you have a drug addiction, contact us for professional treatment advice. While doing so is daunting, we can help you start your recovery today.

Alternatively, find out more about some of the most dangerous drugs here.

What Does Drug Abuse Look Like?

Like many other people, you may not realize what drug abuse is classed as. It does not necessarily involve buying hard drugs from street dealers. Instead, drug abuse comes in many forms.

When you imagine someone who abuses drugs, you might picture a person who looks or acts a certain way. But those who abuse drugs come in all shapes and sizes. It’s impossible to determine who has a drug addiction just by looking at them, as many people are able to conceal their addiction.

If you have a substance abuse problem, you may find you can hide any symptoms from your loved ones and employers for a while. But it always catches you out eventually. After all, you cannot run from addiction.

Drug abuse can look like this:

  • Taking illicit drugs
  • Taking prescription drugs obtained from street dealers
  • Taking someone else’s prescription drugs
  • Taking your prescription drugs at a higher dose or for longer than advised
  • Taking prescription drugs to get high

It seems obvious that taking illicit substances is considered drug abuse. But prescription drug abuse is often overlooked, as is alcohol abuse due to its legality. However, it’s important to remember that all drug abuse is extremely harmful to your health and well-being.

Why Do People Abuse Drugs?

There are many reasons why people abuse drugs. However, some of the most common reasons include:

  • Curiosity
  • Peer pressure
  • Self-diagnosis
  • Pain relief
  • Self-medicating
  • Mental health problems

In addition to the above, some people take drugs to fuel an existing addiction, aid study, stay alert, or decrease appetite.

If you are concerned about drug abuse, talk to someone. This could be a friend, medical professional, helpline, or even our team. We can offer confidential advice, suitable treatment, and support.

What Are the Dangers of Substance Abuse?

The exact dangers of drug abuse vary depending on the drug, the dosage, the extent of your substance abuse, and your health profile. Cocaine, for example, is more dangerous when mixed with alcohol.

Some common health risks of drug abuse include:

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Digestive issues
  • Cancer
  • Brain damage
  • Sleep disorders
  • Exacerbated mental health problems
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Overdose
  • Addiction
  • Accidental death

The list above is extensive and makes for a difficult read, but it’s essential to know the risks of drug abuse so you can make an informed decision. No amount of drug abuse is risk-free, and there is always a chance of addiction, even if you only use a drug once.

Drug abuse can also affect your interpersonal relationships, finances, and employment. Many employers carry out random drug tests to ensure the workplace is drug-free. Numerous drugs can be detected in your saliva, urine, and blood for several days after last use. Hair follicle tests, for example, can detect drugs in your system for up to 90 days.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

Drug abuse affects your brain’s reward center. When drugs release dopamine, the brain associates drug use with pleasure and reward. The brain adapts to this through prolonged drug use and begins to crave substances.

When a substance use disorder (SUD) or addiction develops, you gradually lose control of your substance use. Sadly, this may cause you to consume drugs despite any adverse consequences to your health.

Although it is possible to overcome an addiction, this can only be done with professional treatment and often requires a lifelong commitment to sobriety.

What Are the Most Dangerous Drugs in the World?

All drugs are highly dangerous and come with risks. But some are considered more harmful due to their high potential for overdose deaths and addiction. Below, we outline some of the most dangerous drugs found in the United States.

Prescription Opioids

Opioids are drugs containing opium. Deriving from the poppy plant, opioids are synthetic lab-made drugs usually prescribed to treat chronic pain.

Prescription opioids became popular in the 1990s as pharmaceutical companies pushed them as a form of miracle pain relief. Although these companies led many to believe that opioids would not lead to addiction, they were wrong. While opioids do relieve pain, they are extremely addictive.

Commonly prescribed opioids include:

  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Tramadol
  • Oxycodone

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 70% of all overdose deaths in 2019 involved opioid drugs. In the United States, opioid abuse is considered an epidemic.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate designed to reduce severe pain following surgery. Nevertheless, it’s thought to be the most dangerous drug globally.

The most significant risk of fentanyl abuse is overdose. Signs of this include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreases heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Limp body
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, with 42% of fentanyl found on the street containing a potentially lethal dose.

Heroin

In 2019, more than 14,000 people died of a heroin overdose in the United States, which accounted for nearly a third of all opioid deaths. Heroin is extremely addictive and especially dangerous because it’s unregulated.

People often take heroin when they can no longer obtain prescription opioids after becoming addicted to them. Heroin is sometimes mixed with other drugs such as alcohol or cocaine for a more significant effect. However, this often results in overdose.

There are many complications associated with chronic heroin use. These include:

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Weakened immune system
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep problems

Injecting heroin can lead to damaged veins, blood clots, and infections such as sepsis. There is also a risk of developing hepatitis B and C, HIV, and AIDS.

Chronic heroin use can cause brain damage, affecting things like your decision-making abilities and how you handle stress.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that derives from the leaves of coca plants found in South America. Initially designed as an anesthetic and form of pain relief, it is a common street drug today.

Cocaine appears as a fine, white powder and is smoked, snorted, injected, or rubbed on the gums. It can also come in crystal form, which is known as crack. These administration methods come with their own health problems such as chronic nosebleeds, respiratory problems, hepatitis, HIV, and AIDS.

In 2018, it was reported that there were nearly 15,000 cocaine-related deaths in the United States.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a synthetic stimulant street drug. It comes in powder, tablet, or crystal form, with the latter commonly referred to as crystal meth. Meth is usually smoked, snorted, or injected.

Risks of methamphetamine that make it a dangerous drug include:

  • Permanent damage to the heart and brain
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Severe dental problems
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Lung damage
  • Sleep problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Psychosis

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that over 16,500 methamphetamine overdose deaths were recorded in 2019 in the United States alone.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines, known as benzos, are a group of highly addictive sedative drugs prescribed for health conditions such as severe anxiety and insomnia. Common benzos include Valium and Xanax.

Benzo overdoses are on the rise, and in 2019, they were responsible for 17% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States. Signs of a benzo overdose include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma

Benzodiazepines interfere with cognition and memory when used for a prolonged period. Studies have also found that chronic benzo abuse significantly increases the risk of dementia in later life.

Alcohol

You may not realize it, but alcohol is a potent mind-altering drug. A central nervous system depressant, alcohol slows messages sent between the brain and body. As alcohol provides a euphoric high, people often drink it to enhance positive emotions or to mask negative feelings.

Government guidelines state that women should consume one drink or less per day and men should only have two drinks or less per day. Heavy drinking is classed as consuming more than seven drinks per week for women and 15 drinks per week for men. Heavy drinking is considered drug abuse and can lead to addiction and alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.

Tobacco

Although tobacco is legal, it comes with many health risks, including lung cancer. Lung cancer sadly has one of the lowest survival rates in the world. In 2018, the World Health Organization found that 85% of deaths from lung cancer were attributed to tobacco use.

Other dangers of long-term tobacco use include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Although you can’t overdose on tobacco, it is still the leading cause of preventable diseases, disability, and death. These facts make it hard to argue that it is not, in fact, a dangerous drug.

How Can I Overcome Addiction?

Addiction can be overcome through a detox and rehab program. For your safety, these treatments must be completed at a treatment facility. This is because detoxing can cause side effects that are unpleasant and, in some cases, fatal. Although rare, it is possible to experience severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures.

Call Us Today

Having come to understand what some of the most dangerous drugs are, call our specialized team today and ask about treatment options for drug abuse and addiction. We can answer any questions you have about substance abuse disorders and provide you with a wealth of information about our treatments.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine