A woman injects a fatal dose of heroin

Drug addiction is arguably more dangerous and lethal than it has ever been in the history of mankind. In the year 2017, the United States alone saw 72,000 drug overdose deaths. (1)

These numbers are just as bleak worldwide, with 190,000 overdose deaths estimated for 2016 alone worldwide. (2)

Here we take a look at the most dangerous drugs in the world.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Drugs in the World

10) Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are prescription medications commonly prescribed for anxiety. Examples A skull stands next to a syringe include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin.

In recent years, the number of benzodiazepine prescriptions has skyrocketed, adding to the growing drug overdose concern. (3) While benzodiazepines overdoses are rarely fatal, they greatly increase the risk of overdose deaths when combined with other central nervous system depressants, such as opioids or alcohol. (4)

9) Tobacco

While we sometimes tend to forget that nicotine belongs on lists like these, the reality is that nicotine is a drug and one of the most lethal. Nicotine and other Tobacco products are one of the most fatal drugs on the planet due to the dangers associated with tobacco use. Cigarette use can cause cancer, stroke, emphysema, heart disease, and many other negative health effects. Worldwide, tobacco use kills approximately 6 million deaths each year. (5)

8) Krokodil

Krokodil is the street nickname for the drug desomorphine that is currently ravaging Eastern European nations. Krokodil is produced from the opiate codeine, which is commonly found over the counter in certain parts of the world. Illicitly produced “krokodil” causes horrendous tissue damage and infections caused by impurities in the drug manufacturing process. (6)

7) Cocaine/Crack

Cocaine has historically been the second most commonly abused drug in the world, behind only marijuana. Cocaine deaths have also been shown to be on the rise.

In the period between 2011 and 2016, cocaine overdose deaths increased a staggering 18% each year during the five-year interval. (7)

6) Alcohol

Despite being legal in most regions of the world, alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs popularly used. This is due to the assortment of damaging health issues that result from chronic alcoholism. For example, in 2012 an estimated 3.3 million people died of alcohol-related diseases. (8) It is estimated that approximately 88,000 people die each year in the United States from alcohol-related illnesses, which is more than the worst drug overdose year totals. (9)

5) Prescription Painkillers

While prescription painkillers (such as Oxycodone, Vicodin, Percocet) have many legitimate medical uses, they also have a severe addiction liability. From 1999-2017, approximately 218,000 died from prescription painkiller overdoses in the United States alone. (10)

Prescription painkillers also often times serve as a gateway to harder opioids, such as heroin and street fentanyl.

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4) Methamphetamine, aka Crystal Meth

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that typically has disastrous effects on the communities in which it plagues. For example, methamphetamine accounted for 102,961 emergency room visits in the United States in 2011 alone.

Negative health effects include extreme weight loss, neural toxicity, anxiety, paranoia, psychotic episodes, and many other issues. (11)

3) Heroin

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that has long held the title of one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs known to man. Heroin is currently one of the main causes of the Opioid Epidemic, with heroin deaths in 2017 numbering approximately 15,958. (12)

Street heroin currently also poses the threat of containing the next two drugs on the list, making it even more dangerous.

2) Carfentanil

Carfentanil is a fully synthetic opioid that is one of the most potent opioids in existence. It is approximately 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

While carfentanil’s only legitimate use is to tranquilize very large animals, it has begun showing up in street drugs such as heroin and gray death. (13)

1) Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a fully synthetic opioid that is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine. While not as strong as carfentanil, it claims the top spot on this list due to the staggering number of people who have died from it.

Fentanyl was responsible for 29,406 deaths in the United States alone in 2017. It is currently the most deadly drug involved in the Opioid Epidemic.  To make matters worse, fentanyl  is commonly used to laced in various drugs. For example, the DEA reports that fentanyl is the most commonly found drug used in counterfeit prescription pills. (14)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
  2. https://www.unodc.org/wdr2017/field/WDR_2017_presentation_lauch_version.pdf
  3. https://www.medicalbag.com/medicine/addiction-benzodiazepines-prescription-drug-problem/article/748515/
  4. https://ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cpt1977214497
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25517224
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desomorphine
  8. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/12/12/cocaine-deaths-increase-amid-ongoing-national-opioid-crisis/?utm_term=.454c2a36f3ca
  9. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
  10. https://www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/alcohol/en/
  11. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK384656/
  13. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/carfentanil#section=Top
  14. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-07/DIR-040-17_2017-NDTA.pdf