What does it mean for a drug to be “dangerous”? Though there are many well-respected methods of determining dangerous drugs, this list was compiled using a study published in Scientific Reports this year. The study used a measurement called the margin of exposure, or MOE, to determine which drugs were the most dangerous.
A drug’s MOE is determined by calculating the ratio of toxicological threshold (the amount of drug you have to take to experience a physiological effect) to estimated human intake. The lower the ratio, the more dangerous the drug. Below, we present the top 10 most dangerous drugs according to their MOE.
Number Ten: Cannabis. Least dangerous on this list is cannabis, or marijuana. This is because it would take an immense amount of marijuana to actually kill a person. Though marijuana is widely used and is known to impair its users, the chances of someone taking a lethal dose of marijuana are extraordinarily low.
Number Nine: Diazepam. Better known as Valium, Diazepam is a benzodiazepine commonly prescribed for anxiety, seizures and muscle spasms. It is highly addictive and, in high enough doses, will kill you.
Number Eight: Amphetamine. Amphetamine is a stimulant that controls your central nervous system. It has become widely popular as a salt in the form of Adderall, which is commonly prescribed for ADHD and is used recreationally by many high school and college students.
Number Seven: Methadone. Methadone is most commonly administered to recovering heroin addicts who are suffering from withdrawal. Though it is not commonly viewed as dangerous, for non-heroin addicts, it can be lethal.
Number Six: Meth. Meth, or methamphetamine, is a highly addictive stimulant that is similar, but more addictive than, amphetamine. It was highly popularized by AMC’s Breaking Bad (pictured above).
Number Five: MDMA. MDMA, also known as Molly, is the pure form of the active ingredient in ecstasy. It has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties and has become popular for young people to use before going to concerts or raves.
Number Four: Nicotine. Nicotine is one of the most decriminalized drugs on this list, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. It is a mild stimulant, but its danger lies in its delivery; the most common way to ingest nicotine is by smoking it. Even though e-cigarettes have recently grown in popularity, it is still extremely dangerous, and it only takes one cigarette to become addicted.
Number Three: Cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant that is extremely addictive and powerful. It is made from the coca plant, which is native to South America. Though cocaine use does result in short-term euphoria and increased sociability, it can also raise heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels.
Number Two: Heroin. Many people consider heroin the most dangerous drug, but that’s where they’d be wrong. However, it’s true that heroin is extremely dangerous. Also known as smack or H, heroin is an opioid that is synthesized from morphine. An estimated 23 percent of people who have ever used heroin become addicted to it.
Number One: Alcohol. Yes, it’s true: the most dangerous drug available to us is alcohol. Though alcohol is extremely popular, decriminalized and in some instances even romanticized, it is addictive, harmful and lethal in many cases. Many people who are unaware of their limits accidentally poison themselves with alcohol and can even die from an accidental overdose. For this reason, alcohol is the most dangerous drug.
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