Which Are The Top Ten Drugs That Can Kill You?

The top ten illegal and most dangerous drugs that are likely to kill you includes high doses of the following; Heroine, crack cocaine, Methamphetamines, Fentanyl, Benzodiazepines, Ecstasy, Alcohol, Methadone, Flakka and Bath Salts.

Drug-related deaths from substance use disorder have been on the rise in the United States and Europe in recent years. (1) These include direct deaths from prescription drug abuse and drug misuse, such as overdosing.

The most dangerous drugs that can kill are varied - illicit drugs for recreational use, prescriptions drugs that are being abused, and alcohol which is not technically a drug in the sense that doctors don’t prescribe it to treat a disease, but it is just as dangerous for its addictive nature.

Surprisingly, cannabis is not on the list. Although it is the most commonly used drug in the US and the UK, second only to alcohol, it does not cause heart attacks or cardiovascular arrests that could lead to death. That is however not a reason for people hooked on marijuana not to take cannabis substance abuse seriously.

The top 10 drugs that can kill are based on the lists from the government's drug enforcement administration, and support agencies that focus on the substance addiction affecting societies. Most deaths arise from a combination of substances, i.e., heroin and alcohol, cocaine and ecstasy, etc.

Topping the list of dangerous drugs are opioids and alcohol.

In no particular order:

Here Are The Top Ten Drugs That Can Kill You


Heroin overdose that results in death remains at high levels in the United States (2) and is also the cause of death by overdose in almost 9 out of 10 cases in the United Kingdom. (3)

Heroin is part of opioid drugs, and it is one of the oldest and most dangerous drugs that cause severe addiction. Originally used to treat conditions that required prescription opioids and legally as a potent painkiller, heroin produces a euphoric effect on the user.

Heroin is injected, smoked, or snorted. The user experiences a rush of pleasurable feeling and it will relieve pain. This lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes and then it's followed by drowsiness. Then your body, heart and lung functions slow down. You also experience slow breathing.

In heroin overdose, the drowsiness becomes uncontrollable, and your body's organs operate at a very slow pace while you are asleep.

The prolonged substance abuse from heroin use, causes the body to develop a tolerance to the drug and one will end up needing increasing quantities of it to experience the desired effects. After the high, the user becomes abnormally sleepy to the point that the heart may stop beating and breathing practically stops.

The lungs and brain are deprived of oxygen, which leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The user suffers brain damage or goes into a coma or worse, dies.

Abbeycare treatment centers offer treatment for Heroin addiction and other illegal drugs. A rehab programme for heroin misuse typically consists of a multi-modality approach to help you understand, and begin to overcome, the causal issues behind heroin misuse.

Abbeycare offers treatment for Heroin addiction. A rehab programme for heroin misuse typically consists of a multi-modality approach to help you understand, and begin to overcome, the causal issues behind heroin misuse.


Deaths from cocaine misuse more than doubled in the UK from 2015 to 2019, (4) records from the Office for National Statistics show. A similar rise was also seen in the US. Over the years, cocaine has become the second most abused illicit drug after marijuana and has a very strong addictive property.

Addiction to cocaine comes from the euphoria it gives the user and the changes it brings to the brain’s reward circuit so that a person who experiences its effects goes back again and again to using cocaine. 

Cocaine Overdose

A fatal cocaine overdose can occur during withdrawal if the person who wants to quit using the drug does not seek help from qualified treatment centers.

Without medical supervision, a user may not be able to resist the cravings and will end up with an overdose.

Professional treatment advice is required, not just for cocaine but other drugs, because the depression caused by the withdrawal can drive one to suicide. This is a common side effect with most street drugs.

Detoxification From Cocaine

This is a necessary first step towards cocaine addiction treatment.

It is important to cleanse the body of cocaine at a treatment facility, and once stability is achieved, therapeutic help can then begin in earnest.

Detoxification from Cocaine. As the first step of cocaine addiction treatment, it’s important to cleanse the body of cocaine itself. Once stability is achieved, therapeutic help can begin in earnest.


Methamphetamines are popularly known as crystal meth, speed or ice.

They are a stimulant chemical which is a highly addictive drug that is taken in many ways but most commonly snorted in powder form, smoked through a glass pipe, or freebased, where it is put on tin foil and heated underneath, then inhaled using a straw.

Recent years show an increase in deaths from meth overdose globally, in a study done by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.(4) Although it is a medication for ADHD, it is also sold illegally as a party drug that people take to increase wakefulness and energy, produce euphoria, and enhance sexual activity. Chronic use leads to taking bigger amounts of the drug and increasing the frequency.  


An overdose of methamphetamine increases the heart rate and blood pressure, creates respiratory distress, hypothermia, and convulsions. Any of these effects may cause brain damage or cardiovascular failure that leads to death.

Find a specific treatment provider such as Abbeycare, to help with Methamphetamines detox and treatment.

At our treatment facility, we offer treatment plans that can provide sobriety for Methamphetamines and other common drugs. Call us today.


Fentanyl is the generic name for prescription drugs with a narcotic analgesic mostly used after inpatient surgery.

It may also be prescribed by a treatment provider to treat pain. Since it is an extremely potent opioid (50 to 100 times stronger than morphine), the brain adapts to it quite quickly and develops tolerance, so its desired outcome (extreme ecstasy) diminishes after constant use.

Fentanyl as a street drug is often mixed with heroin or cocaine to increase profits since Fentanyl is cheaper yet more potent.

Their potency has led to overdose deaths, making Fentanyl and its analogues the 2nd and 3rd highest numbers of drug overdose in 2017. (5)

The danger in a Fentanyl overdose lies in the person using heroin or cocaine and not knowing that Fentanyl has been mixed in them. An overdose signals the brain’s respiratory centre to slow down breathing or stop completely. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, the person goes into a coma or dies.

Because Fentanyl is extraordinarily strong, its action is swift and intense, and the user may not be able to recover even with medication.

Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than heroin, and delivers a very rapid, short-lived, spike in euphoric levels, followed by a quick “crash” phase, leaving users quickly seeking for more. 

Abbeycare treatment providers offers addiction treatment for prescription medications and other substances. Check the link below.

Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than heroin, and delivers a very rapid, short-lived, spike in euphoria levels, followed by a quick “crash” phase, leaving users quickly seeking more. 


“Benzos”, as they are usually called, are categorized as tranquilizers, and have a sedating effect.

They are prescribed medication often used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Treatment providers mostly use common brands such as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan.

They are usually abused as a secondary drug of choice, in conjunction with heroin or alcohol as the primary drug. Taken alone, benzodiazepines are rarely lethal.

Reasons for adding benzos to other drugs is for pain relieve, to relieve tension, enhance the euphoria that opioids give, or to combat the insomnia they cause. (6)

How does a benzodiazepine misuse lead to possible death?

Opioids and alcohol act on the respiratory function of the body by slowing down breathing. A sedative drug like a benzo does the same. Taken together with another drug, they are potent enough to suppress breathing and cause brain damage, coma, or death.

Using a specific treatment center such as Abbeycare will help with Benzodiazepine detox and addiction treatment.

When looking for UK or American addiction centers, using the specific treatment center listing will provider you with a treatment overview for substance use and medical emergency support in case of fatal overdose or adverse withdrawal symptoms.

The center for disease control website's main phone number, can be used to report any emergencies that may occur with certain drugs.

The treatment providers listed on the national institute are verified treatment centers. Choose a treatment provider near you for optimum success. They also usually have a paid advertisers online chat when you wish to start treatment moderately.


Ecstasy, also known as Molly, is the street name for MDMA, a synthetic chemical that is both a stimulant and a hallucinogen. It comes in tablet or capsule form and is popular among teens and young adults.

The effects of Ecstasy manifest 45 minutes after ingestion, peaks 15 minutes later and last for up to three hours or more. Two tablets are the usual dose, with the second tablet taken when the effects of the first start to wane.

MDMA creates an intense feeling of wellbeing and optimism, amplified sociability, heightened emotional warmth, distorted perception, and vigorous physical activity. Users of this drug, combined with other medicines are seen to engage in risky sexual behaviour more than alcohol abusers. (7)

This is actually one of the leading causes of teen related deaths and substance use overdose among young people. It also leads to plenty of motor vehicle accidents as these young ones are leaving party scenes.

Ecstasy becomes dangerous and lethal because it causes the body temperature to rise to as high as 42 degrees Celsius.

This abnormal temperature is sustained when tablets are taken in succession accompanied by frenzied activity like dancing. In this scenario, heatstroke ensues, and the organs start shutting down, causing Ecstasy related deaths.

While short term detox treatment options for Ecstasy are available, successful addiction treatment for ecstasy misuse usually involves tackling both the physical, and mental health, symptoms as they manifest for each individual.

Substance use detox is always risky and must always be done under medical supervision.

While short term detox treatment options for Ecstasy are available, successful addiction treatment for ecstasy misuse usually involves tackling both the physical, and mental health, symptoms as they manifest for each individual.


In most countries, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance after nicotine. But because alcohol is legal and is associated with good times, alcohol misuse disorder often goes unnoticed until it has progressed to the point that it is negatively affecting the person’s life and work.

Alcohol use disorder occurs when consumption becomes uncontrollable, the person craves for it and financial and work problems arise from drinking. The drinker places more importance on drinking over meeting personal responsibilities. Behaviour changes are also evident.

Alcohol use disorder in the US is measured by criteria set by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (8) and in the UK, the government’s National Health Service (9) sets a limit of 14 units per week for both men and women.

Alcoholic liver diseases are the most common health condition that alcoholism brings, in particular fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis which later leads to liver cancer.

Most people assume that alcohol detox is simple, and nicotine only requires nicotine patches, but that is not the case.

Serious treatment is required for both of these addictions.


Methadone is a synthetic opioid commonly used as a substitution therapy for reducing other opioid addictions, such as heroin. This makes methadone an unavoidable evil and most people addicted to it started out using it for heroin rehab.

Methadone is also used treat moderate pain. It provides pain relief.

As a treatment for opioid addiction, methadone is only a component of a comprehensive programme that includes counselling and behaviour therapy.

Although an opioid, methadone is not as addictive and its effects last long, from 24 to 55 hours, so a single dose is enough for a day. In contrast, heroin’s effects last only a few hours. 

Methadone is a highly regulated drug.(10) But illicit selling still exists for people who want a potent analgesic for their pain and for users who take the drug to manage withdrawal symptoms. But dosage varies based on several factors and a methadone overdose occurs.

Like other opioids, methadone overdose causes drowsiness and slows down breathing or even leads to unconsciousness. These can result in death.

Your medical provider will offer detox options for methadone. As methadone withdrawal can be uncomfortable as well as dangerous, seeking private methadone detoxing and rehabilitation is recommended. 

Few detox options for methadone exist. As methadone withdrawal can be uncomfortable as well as dangerous, seeking private methadone detoxing and rehabilitation is recommended. 


A relatively new drug, Flakka is a chemical variant of the synthetic bath salts, a psychostimulant in the cathinone class known as Alpha-PVP. As potent as methamphetamine but more addictive, Flakka’s origins trace back to South Florida in 2014-2015 and it has since found its way to the UK.

Flakka has extremely intense effects. Like all stimulants, it creates a sense of euphoria. Snorted, smoked, injected, or taken by mouth, it causes paranoid psychosis and hallucinations. It also gives the user extraordinary physical strength and a feeling of invulnerability that leads to bizarre and unsafe behaviour. An effect specific to Flakka is hypoactive delirium, putting the user in a zombie-like status. (11)

Bath Salts

These designer drugs are not what people put in bathtubs to soak in. They’re highly addictive synthetic cathinone with the street names of Monkey Dust, Vanilla Sky, and Plant Food, to name some. The manufactured cathinone is sold in vials, or small plastic or foil packets mixed with an amphetamine substance such as MDPV, mephedrone or methylone. It comes in white crystalline powder and looks like bath salts, hence the name. The powder is swallowed, smoked, snorted or injected.


Drug misuse and dependence can come from legally allowed medication or illicit drugs that have no medical value and are used for recreational purposes only.

Overcoming drug abuse is not easy but with the support of family and friends, and professional drug rehab centres, lives can be saved and drug dependents can be productive again.

Please note that other than the above drugs, cold medicines are also greatly misused. This is because they cause drowsiness and relieve from severe pain.

But, even though mild, most drugs can cause overdose deaths, so avoid misusing them.

Abbeycare clinic offers plenty of options for drug abuse. Check our Coverage disclaimer HIPAA badge.

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.