5 Substances That Are Far More Addictive Than Marijuana — That Are Legal

Source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the misconceptions about marijuana is that it is highly addictive, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, studies suggest only 9% of marijuana users become dependent on the drug. Marijuana addiction is also viewed as implicitly dangerous, but the history of its perceived danger is tied to racism.

According to Malik Burnett, former surgeon and physician advocate, and Amanda Reiman, a lecturer on drug and alcohol policy at the University of California, Berkeley, marijuana was criminalized in the 1900s as a way to police "disruptive" Mexican immigrants and their "native" behaviors — similar to how opium was criminalized in order to police Chinese immigrants decades earlier.

As the nation continues to debate and vote on marijuana legalization, about how marijuana has ruined lives and is a gateway to harder stuff, it's good to gain some perspective on other seemingly innocuous substances that are already legal, yet can be equally addictive and as "dangerous" as marijuana.

Read more: Marijuana Potency Has Changed Drastically Over Time — Just Ask Your Parents

Alcohol

According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive drinking (defined as four drinks or more for women, and five drinks or more for men in a single occasion along with underage drinking, drinking while pregnant) was the cause for around 88,000 reported deaths in the United States between 2006 and 2010. 

Tobacco cigarettes

The CDC reports that tobacco cigarettes cause about 90% of all lung cancer deaths. Additionally, "The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in men and women in the United States," according to the CDC.

Sugar

"What's tricky about sugar is that it is socially acceptable, and often thought of as a 'treat' when it really should be thought of as 'toxic.' Research shows that sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine," Cassie Bjork, a registered dietician, told Healthline.

"Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalances and more."

Caffeine


According to the studies of Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, latest research found that "when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating." Some caffeine addicts can even have flu-like symptoms like muscle pain and nausea.

Cough syrup

Or more accurately, dextromethorphan, the ingredient found in most over-the-counter cough medicines. According to recent studies, low doses of dextromethorphan is benign, but when cough syrup dosage is abused, it can produce "a psychotropic effect similar to that of alcohol."

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Andrew Leung

Andrew was an editorial fellow at Mic. He is based in New York and can be reached at aleungnyc@gmail.com

MORE FROM

Watchdog groups sue Trump for deleting tweets, allegedly violating Presidential Records Act

Trump's deleted tweets may come back to haunt him.

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Minneapolis might get a $15 minimum wage, but restaurant workers aren't celebrating

Discord has been brewing in Minneapolis over whether tipped work will be counted toward a $15 minimum wage.

These abysmal new poll numbers for House health care bill don't bode well for Senate version

Only 34% of Republicans approve of the new proposed law.

'Pizzagate' shooter gets 4-year prison sentence, lawyers urged judge to deter vigilantism

Welch stormed a Washington, D.C., pizza place and shot off a firearm because of the internet.

Watchdog groups sue Trump for deleting tweets, allegedly violating Presidential Records Act

Trump's deleted tweets may come back to haunt him.

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Minneapolis might get a $15 minimum wage, but restaurant workers aren't celebrating

Discord has been brewing in Minneapolis over whether tipped work will be counted toward a $15 minimum wage.

These abysmal new poll numbers for House health care bill don't bode well for Senate version

Only 34% of Republicans approve of the new proposed law.

'Pizzagate' shooter gets 4-year prison sentence, lawyers urged judge to deter vigilantism

Welch stormed a Washington, D.C., pizza place and shot off a firearm because of the internet.