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Most substances that can cause chemical dependency are harmful. Whether they’re used once or on a long-term basis, they have the potential to cause lasting effects on one’s mental and physical health. The amount of different substances out there is broad, however. This can lead people to ask the question, “Are some dangerous substances worse than others?” 

Millions of people become dependent on substances. Even substances considered less harmful than potent drugs like heroin can cause damage when used for an extensive amount of time. That’s why seeking addiction treatment is critical. Treatment, of course, can help individuals recover from addiction and kick chemical dependency to the curb. However, it can also aid in the physical healing process of substance use. Consider working with us at West Coast Recovery Centers to start that healing journey today. 

What Dangerous Substances Do People Find Themselves Dependent On?

A life of addiction is not something anyone chooses. For many individuals, it simply sneaks up on them. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol is dangerous because of the risk of developing substance use disorder (SUD). However, there are several other risks to consider. First, it might be helpful to understand what dangerous substances people find themselves dependent on and why this dependence develops. 

According to the National Institue on Drug Abuse (NIDA), some of the most commonly used substances include: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Cannabis 
  • Hallucinogens 
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine 
  • Fentanyl 
  • Heroin 
  • Ketamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription opioids

The main question is whether or not some of these substances are more dangerous than others. Yet, addressing why people turn to substance use, to begin with, can help add context to this question and its answer.

Individuals experiment with substances for all kinds of reasons. Some are looking for a good time. However, the vast majority of people are trying to cope with trauma, mental health conditions, or other distressing experiences. Self-medicating is extremely dangerous, not only because it increases the risk of dependency but also other risks, including physical harm or even death. Let’s look at some of these additional risks. 

What Are the Risks Associated With Dangerous Substances?

The risks of substance use as a whole are dangerous, but each substance comes with additional risks. Of course, people experience a wide range of short-term effects when using drugs or alcohol. Many short-term effects, like euphoria, are often the desired result. However, some less desirable, short-term risks may include: 

  • Hangovers 
  • Anxiety 
  • Paranoia 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Irritability 
  • Depression 
  • Withdrawal 

Of course, none of these reactions are positive. Yet, there are more significant concerns associated with the long-term risk of substance use. Some of the consequences related to substance use (though this can vary depending on the type, severity, and frequency of substance use) include:

  • Damage to the brain and central nervous system 
  • Elevated blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, and other severe heart problems
  • Problems with your liver, pancreas, kidney, or other chronic health conditions 
  • The development of cancer in the lungs, esophagus, liver, or other areas of the body
  • Respiratory illness caused by smoking or inhaling a range of substances  
  • The development of several other mental health conditions 

Answering the Question: Are Some Substances More Dangerous Than Others?

Broadly speaking, yes, some substances can bring about greater dangers than others. However, the question is more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. The fact of the matter is that there’s a significant difference between having one too many glasses of wine and using an illicit drug like heroin. Yes, long-term alcohol consumption can cause serious harm to one’s health. However, a single glass of alcohol will not be nearly as dangerous as an initial exposure to fentanyl. 

Fentanyl, in particular, is incredibly dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes this synthetic opioid as “50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.” Its potency is only one reason why fentanyl is dangerous. Fentanyl is much more dangerous than other substances because of its high risk of overdose.  

Understanding the Real Dangers of Overdose Associated With Substance Use

Unfortunately, it is common for many street drugs to be contaminated with fentanyl. Additionally, because it’s so strong, a single use can be fatal. Fentanyl alone could very well be one of the reasons why the prevalence of overdose deaths nationwide has skyrocketed. In fact, Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), describes fentanyl as “the single deadlines drug threat our nation has ever encountered.” 

Of course, this doesn’t reduce the risks associated with other substances. Even though one fentanyl use can cause an overdose, using too many prescription pills, too much heroin, or too much of any other substance can be just as harmful. Ultimately, seeking treatment is the best way to prevent a lethal overdose. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with SUD, know you’re not alone. Millions struggle every day, and while some dangerous substances are more risky than others, they all have long-term consequences. End the vicious cycle of substance use by calling West Coast Recovery Centers and seeking treatment today. 

Asking if there are dangerous substances worse than others is a complicated question. Ultimately, all substances are risky. Even alcohol and marijuana – substances many consider safe – can cause significant long-term consequences. Synthetic, illicit drugs like fentanyl are hazardous as a single use can cause a lethal overdose, but other substances like prescription pills and alcohol have their own consequences. These may include the development of substance use disorder (SUD), mental health conditions, or physical health conditions ranging from organ disease to various cancers. The best way to avoid the consequences of these dangerous substances is to seek treatment and abstain from them. Call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 to begin your treatment journey today.