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Comparing Drugs: Three Things To Consider

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

March 29, 2019

Not all drugs are created equal, and every year new drugs are being discovered and developed. Although the initial decision to take drugs is generally a voluntary act, continued use can seriously affect a person’s ability to control their future drug use, resulting in a substance use disorder or addiction.

Often, individuals who are misusing or abusing substances such as prescription opioids, alcohol, or illicit drugs like heroin will take more than the recommended amount, or combine more than one substance at a time, which can cause many adverse reactions, including death.

Here are three things to consider while comparing drugs.

What Are The Side Effects Of Each Drug?

The potential side effects of each drug are something thing to consider when comparing drugs. As every person is different, some substances may cause unique side effects, especially when two or more substances are combined.

Some commonly abused drugs include, but are not limited to:

  • prescription and illicit opioids (oxycodone, Vicodin, heroin, and fentanyl)
  • stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamines)
  • benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin)
  • hallucinogens (acid, psilocybin mushrooms)

Each class of drug comes with its own list of side effects, which can range from mild to severe depending on how much of the substance is taken and the individual’s tolerance to said substance.

In some cases, the administration of the drug (whether it is taken orally, injected, or snorted) can also affect the side effects someone may experience. Combining one or more of these substances can also have unpredictable and lethal side effects.

How Addictive Are These Substances?

When comparing two or more substances, it is essential to ask: What is the potential for abuse if this drug is consistently taken? Though the answer to this can change depending on the type of drug and its potency, most of the time it is easy information to obtain.

One of the more reliable ways to identify the potential addictiveness of a substance is by searching for its scheduling, as a drugs schedule is partially determined by its potential for abuse. This can be done at the U.S. Department of Justice website for controlled substance schedules.

Regardless of the class of drug or what one drug’s effects are versus another drug, the important fact to consider is that addiction is addiction; it is about the negative ways a person’s addiction affects their life. Addiction is pervasive, and this disease harms people no matter the type or class of drug.

How Much Will The Drug Cost?

The cost of a drug habit can vary greatly, depending on the class of drug and how much of it is being taken (addicted individuals will gradually need more and more as their tolerance to the effects of the drug increases).

Some individuals may begin taking drugs because their physician recommends them for a specific condition or circumstance like a chronic pain condition or mental health issue. Many people who end up abusing opioids start because they were given a legitimate prescription, but are unable to stop. This is when they are likely to turn to heroin because it tends to be easier to come by and less expensive.

Aside from the financial cost, substance use disorders may also cost people their personal relationships, jobs, and even homes, in some cases. There are many things to consider when taking drugs. Comparing them can be complicated, but getting help for a substance use disorder shouldn’t be.

Find out more by contacting an addiction specialist at today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - The Science of Drug Use and Addiction: The Basics

Executive Office of the President of the United States - What America’s Users Spend on Illegal Drugs: 2000-2010

The New York Times - This Drug Is Safe and Effective. Wait. Compared With What?

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