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Article Summary

Addictive Qualities of Drugs

Drug addiction is a serious problem in our society today. The reason has to do with the addictive qualities of drugs that are prevalent today. Each drug has its own unique properties, and those properties are what draw users back to them again and again.


Although it sometimes isn't put into the class of drugs, alcohol is a mind-altering substance and thus a drug. Alcohol's addictive qualities initially have to do with the euphoria it produces. It makes those who consume feel happy, energetic (initially), and confident. Sometimes the latter quality is very addictive, especially for those who suffer from low self-esteem or social anxiety.

When someone drinks alcohol and enjoys these initial effects, they tend to drink it again. Alcohol, however, builds up a tolerance in its users. This means that the more frequently you drink, the more you will need to drink to feel drunk. This leads to drinking more, and the development of dependence on alcohol.

Once someone is dependent on alcohol, it is very difficult to stop using the drug. Doing so will cause withdrawal effects that can be life-threatening, along with uncomfortable symptoms like tremors, nausea, and sweating. This can lead to continued use in order to prevent withdrawal effects.


When it comes to the addictive qualities of drugs, cocaine is near the top of the list in terms of addictiveness. When someone uses cocaine, it causes a sense of euphoria, increased energy, confidence, and a desire to engage in conversation. These qualities are very enjoyable to many people, and thus users and inclined to try it more than once.

Cocaine doesn't generally cause physical dependence, but it does create a powerful psychological dependence on the drug. When the effects of cocaine begin to wear off, the user becomes depressed, lonely, and despondent. This causes the user to want to use cocaine again, in order to relieve the negative feelings associated with coming down. This leads to repetitive use in order to stave off the psychological withdrawal effects.

Cocaine use also leads to tolerance, which means that users will need to take more and more to produce the effects felt with the first dose. Greater highs produce greater lows, which causes another administration of the drug.

Some find another addictive quality of cocaine to be its appetite-suppressant effects. This can be especially desirable for someone who is concerned about maintaining a specific weight, and is seen most frequently in women.


Heroin causes feelings of euphoria, sedation, and numbness. Many people describe the feeling of heroin intoxication as extremely pleasurable. Thus, people are drawn to use the drug repetitively just to reproduce these rewarding effects.

However, as is a common theme in the addictive qualities of drugs, heroin is also used to prevent the negative effects associated with withdrawal. When someone uses heroin, they will build up a tolerance and begin taking higher and higher doses. This leads to physical dependence.

Once someone is physically dependent, if they try to stop using heroin they will experience some very unpleasant sensations. Heroin cessation in a dependent individual can cause nausea, sweating, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, and paranoia. In extreme cases, it can even cause hallucinations, heart palpitations, and delusion. Some describe heroin withdrawal as the worst of all the addictive drugs.

Thus, many heroin users will continue taking heroin just to prevent the withdrawal effects from occurring. Many who try to stop will end up going back to the drug in order to stop the withdrawal symptoms.

When we discuss the addictive qualities of drugs, we must split them up into two categories. The first is the rewarding effects felt when someone takes the drug. This is usually what causes someone to take the drug again, and thus is the first step leading to eventual drug addiction. The second category, however, has to do with the avoidance of withdrawal effects. Most addictive drugs lead to negative psychological or physical effects once their euphoric effects wear off. These withdrawal symptoms can, in some cases, be more important than the rewarding qualities of drugs in causing addiction. Only by avoiding drugs altogether can one avoid being ensnared in this cycle of positive and negative sensations associated with the cycle of drug addiction.

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