5 Deadliest Drugs in 2023

Photo of a "dead end" road sign.Shape

What will be the five deadliest drugs in 2023? Recent trends indicate these 5 drugs will drive rising overdose rates. Learn more in our blog.

Based on CDC and NIDA reports on overdose trends, it is estimated the following five drugs will be the deadliest in 2023.

These drugs are all highly addictive and put users at high risk of overdose and death. They also commonly drive substance use disorder.

#5. Cocaine

Cocaine is addictive due to its effect on the mesolimbic reward pathway. After a short period of use, there is a high risk of dependence. This powerful central nervous system stimulant temporarily increases alertness, energy, and feelings of pleasure and well-being.

Other names for cocaine include crack cocaine, coke, snow, flake, nose candy, and dust.

Cocaine is also an appetite suppressant and a topical anesthetic. Derived from coca plant leaves, cocaine was initially used as a pain reliever. It has limited medical uses, including numbing and decreasing bleeding during nasal surgery, dilating blood vessels in heart attacks and strokes, and acting as local anesthesia for some eye and ear procedures. Although, cocaine’s potent effects soon became apparent, and it began to be used recreationally as a party drug.

The white powder is usually snorted or injected, which leads to a rapid onset of its effects. These effects last 15 to 30 minutes and include dilated pupils, increased blood pressure and heart rate, restlessness, and paranoia. Abusing cocaine can also lead to psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.

Signs of cocaine overdose include anxiety, panic attacks, tremors, and chest pain. Excessive use also increases the risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, lung problems in those who smoke it, blood infections, and sudden cardiac death. Cocaine sold on the street is commonly mixed with local anesthetics such as benzocaine, lidocaine, or tetracaine to numb the throat and gums.

Cocaine can also be contaminated with other drugs, including fentanyl.

#4. Heroin

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug. It is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants. There are many names for heroin, including smack, horse, junk, and skag. This drug usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance known as “black tar” heroin. It can be smoked, inhaled, or injected into veins or muscles.

Heroin affects users by first creating a feeling of pleasure and well-being, followed by drowsiness and relaxation. Over time, heroin addiction can lead to collapsed veins, heart lining and valve infections, abscesses, liver disease, pneumonia, and addiction.

Signs of heroin overdose include shallow breathing, slowed heart rate, reduced blood pressure, muscle weakness, and decreased or confused consciousness.

#3. Oxycodone

A prescription medication used to treat moderate to severe pain, oxycodone belongs to a class of drugs known as opioids, which work by changing the way the brain responds to stimuli. Oxycodone is available in short-acting and long-acting formulations. Short-acting oxycodone is typically used for acute pain, while long-acting oxycodone is used for chronic pain. 

Oxycodone is also available with other medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Common side effects of oxycodone include constipation, drowsiness, and nausea. Oxycodone can also cause more severe side effects, such as slowed breathing and addiction.

Oxycodone overdose is almost always fatal. Oxycodone is a controlled substance and is available by prescription only. It is sold under various brand names, including OxyContin, and is referred to as Oxy on the street.

#2. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, speed, chalk, ice, crystal, crank, and glass, is a potent central nervous system stimulant. It belongs to a class of drugs called stimulants. Prescription stimulants like Adderall are used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

Although Adderall can be abused by people who do not have these conditions, methamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance that is illegal to use.

Methamphetamine intoxication effects include increased alertness, pleasure, libido, and energy. Widely abused as a recreational drug, methamphetamine, when used, can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and death. Methamphetamine overdose symptoms include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, chest pain, seizures, and stroke.

#1. Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a potentially fatal synthetic opioid analgesic that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is typically used to treat severe pain, such as in cancer patients, but it is also sometimes prescribed for non-cancer pain relief. Fentanyl can be administered intravenously, through the skin via a patch, orally, or sublingually. It is also known by the street names China White and Tango.

Fentanyl abuse has risen in recent years due to its high potency and availability as a prescription medication. Using fentanyl for non-medical reasons is hazardous and can lead to fatal overdoses. Overdose symptoms include slow and shallow breathing, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, and loss of consciousness. If an individual believes someone may have overdosed on fentanyl, they should call 911 immediately. 

Treatment for Substance Abuse and Addiction

Drug addiction is a severe problem in the United States. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, quality treatment for substance abuse can be an essential step in the right direction. Treatment helps individuals to stop using drugs and avoid relapse. It can also provide support and resources for families and loved ones affected by addiction.

If an individual is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, they should not hesitate to seek help before the situation turns deadly. There are treatment options available that can save lives.

Don’t Risk Drug Addiction. Get Treated Now at The Forge Recovery Center

These drugs are all highly addictive and can lead to overdose and death. Cocaine is a stimulant that can cause addiction, paranoia, and hallucinations and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Heroin is a highly addictive opioid that slows down the respiratory system and can cause death by overdose. Oxycodone is a powerful narcotic painkiller that is widely abused and highly addictive.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that increases alertness and energy levels and can also cause psychosis, paranoia, and aggression. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid painkiller that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is often used to treat cancer patients but can be deadly if misused. For more information or to get help for addiction to these drugs, contact The Forge Recovery Center today.

Are You Struggling with Mental Health or Addiction?

We Can Help. Call Us Now!

CALL: 877-839-1772

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

August 25, 2022