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5 minutes

The Top 5 Most Dangerous Drugs on the Planet

Medically Reviewed
Last Medically Reviewed on: June 26, 2022
Smoking woman

Updated on

23 Jun, 2022

While all drugs have the potential to be harmful, even life-threatening, some drugs are inherently more dangerous than others. This is particularly true if they are abused, mixed with other substances, or illegally. As a result drug-related deaths in the U.S. are on the rise each year.

While some drugs have the potential to cause immediate, sudden death, other drugs create long-term health side effects that can eventually lead to fatality. Therefore, it’s crucial to identify what the most dangerous drugs are in order to reduce the risk of overdosing and facing life-threatening situations. Furthermore, if you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to any of these drugs, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.

1. Nicotine

One of the most commonly abused drugs, and also one of the most deadly, is nicotine. Nicotine causes over 480,000 deaths in the U.S. annually, costing the U.S. billions of dollars.

However, despite the warning labels printed on each tobacco box, most people have difficulty breaking the cycle of nicotine usage. This is because nicotine is also one of the most addictive drugs available and has a highly relaxing side -effect. As such, since culture is gravitating more towards a stressful lifestyle, the unfortunate reality is that nicotine use is continually being utilized to “de-stress.”

Smoking, in particular, is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths, causing around 80%-90% of all lung-related fatalities yearly. Additionally, smoking tobacco can cause an increased risk of death by stroke, coronary heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is especially true if one combines smoking with other substances like alcohol, which it commonly is.

2. Alcohol

Ranking right up there with nicotine, alcohol is also one of the most highly abused substances on the planet. Because culture tends to accept, even promote, alcohol use, this is also one of the hardest drugs to quit, as many people do not sense they have a problem with alcohol use until it’s too late. As a result, alcohol causes more than 140,000 U.S. deaths annually.

Some side effects of consuming alcohol include slurred speech, blacking out, or even more severe symptoms like liver disease and coma, especially if abused long-term.

3. Fentanyl

Fentanyl is an extremely potent Opioid used as a prescription medication in hospitals to treat moderate to severe pain. However, this drug has now, in this day and age, taken many forms and is often synthetically manufactured and highly abused.

50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times the strength of heroin, Fentanyl is extremely dangerous and can cause death upon first use. There were 56,516 deaths reported due to Fentanyl overdose in 2020. Because Fentanyl is extremely addictive and dangerous, one must seek medical help when detoxing off Fentanyl.

4. Heroin

Another highly addictive opioid, heroin, is responsible for killing 13,165 users in 2020. As such, heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs available in the world today. Furthermore, a user can encounter fatality upon first use because heroin is often combined with other synthetic chemicals, like Fentanyl.

Since heroin is so addictive, it can be extremely difficult to quit. Therefore, if a loved one is addicted to this drug, it is vital for their health and safety for them to get appropriate detox guidance from a professional. Seeking help through an inpatient drug rehab facility is the most effective way to detox and stay sober in the long run, especially from highly addictive drugs like heroin.

5. Cocaine

Unfortunately, this highly addictive and dangerous drug has become increasingly popular over time. The number of drug overdose deaths due to cocaine is also on the rise, from 5,419 deaths in 2014 to around 19,447 in 2020. Much like heroin, cocaine triggers a “euphoric” experience in the user’s system due to the large amount of dopamine released when taken.

With its highly damaging effects on the body and mind of the user, cocaine can cause intense feelings of paranoia, excitability, weight loss, anxiety, and depression.

Some symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include agitation and restless behavior, depression, fatigue, feelings of discomfort, and unpleasant dreams. Detoxing off cocaine can be extremely challenging, as the user typically craves the drug to ward off withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, just as the other drugs require professional medical help to safely detox, it is necessary for the safety of the individual abusing cocaine to seek professional help when detoxing.

The Dangers of Drug Abuse

The grip of dependency can be relentless, taking over the brain’s reward system and making individuals prioritize substance use over their health, relationships, and responsibilities.

Health Implications

The health risks linked to substance abuse go beyond specific drugs. Whether it’s the respiratory issues from smoking or the high blood pressure caused by alcohol, every drug presents a threat to physical well-being. Regular use can lead to long-term health complications, often requiring extensive medical intervention for treatment.

Mental Health Toll

Numerous drugs affect mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairments. The fleeting sense of euphoria caused by substances often leads to significant psychological distress and possibly brain damage.

The impact on mental well-being can reinforce a cycle of drug abuse as individuals strive to alleviate these very issues leading to substance use disorders.

Addressing this complex issue requires a holistic approach that encompasses prevention, education, and treatment.

How to Get Help if You Are Addicted to the Most Dangerous Drugs in the World

Attempting to detox off any drug, whether on this previously mentioned list or not, can put the user at risk of encountering serious, even fatal, withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, it is never advised that one try to quit a drug alone, especially trying to quit cold turkey.

For this reason, it is vital to the safety of the individual struggling with drug addiction that they seek help through a trained medical professional or an inpatient drug rehab facility that knows how to appropriately and safely detox the individual.

Inpatient drug rehabs are particularly helpful to achieving long-term recovery as they remove all distractions and temptations that keep one craving further drug use and provide the care, support, and guidance of trained addiction specialists who can teach one how to maintain lifelong sobriety.

Infinite Level of Care

If you are struggling with an addiction, the time to regain control of your life and your sobriety is now.

At Infinite Recovery, our addiction treatment approach is all about addressing the root causes and tailoring treatment to suit each client’s individual needs.

Reach out to our team of friendly treatment providers today and be liberated from the chains of addiction once and for all so that you can start walking on the path to a better tomorrow immediately.


Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fast Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 2, 2021. Accessed June 26, 2022.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer? | CDC. Published October 18, 2021. Accessed June 26, 2022.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol-Related Deaths. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published April 19, 2022. Accessed June 26, 2022.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fentanyl | CDC’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Epidemic | CDC. Published June 1, 2022. Accessed June 26, 2022.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Overdose Death Rates. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published January 20, 2022. Accessed June 26, 2022.
  6. MedlinePlus. Heroin. Accessed June 26, 2022.
  7. Borke J. Cocaine withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Published February 12, 2021. Accessed June 26, 2022.

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Michael Dadashi

Medical Content Writer

Family owned and operated since 2014, Infinite Recovery was founded by Michael & Ylianna Dadashi to give those struggling with addiction a second chance and help to rebuild their lives. Clean and sober since 2009, Michael is passionate about helping others discover their authentic self and live a life of true freedom and purpose.

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