UK Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs report 'The classification of cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971':
"4.4.5 It is possible to rank the risks of dependence of abused drugs with heroin and crack cocaine the worst and cannabis well below nicotine and alcohol.
5.4 Regular heavy use of cannabis can result in dependence, but its dependence potential is substantially less than that of tobacco or alcohol."

UK Government's Department of Health's booklet 'Dangerousness of Drugs' 2001:
p.60: "Although alcohol is most commonly used, transition from use to dependence for alcohol is relatively low. In contrast, almost one third of those who have ever smoked a cigarette and almost all of those who have ever tried heroin have gone on to become dependent. In contrast, while almost half of those surveyed have tried cannabis, less than 10% of these have gone on to become dependent. What this would suggest is that tobacco has the greatest potential for dependence followed by heroin, then cocaine and alcohol. Cannabis has the lowest 'addictability' of all the drugs listed above."

The World Health Organisation's report 'Cannabis: a health perspective and research agenda':
"A major difference between the two [alcohol and cannabis] is that withdrawal symptoms are either absent or mild after dependent cannabis users abruptly stop their cannabis use, whereas the abrupt cessation of alcohol use in severely dependent drinkers produces a well defined withdrawal syndrome which can be potentially fatal".

  • "12 million tobacco addicts in the UK and 300 die every day
  • 4 million alcohol addicts in the UK and 100 die every day
  • 2 million prescription tranquilliser addicts in the UK
  • 200 000 heroin addicts in the UK"

"In 'Health', Nov/Dec 1990:
To rank today's commonly used drugs by their addictiveness, we asked experts to consider two questions: How easy is it to get hooked on these substances and how hard is it to stop using them? Although a person's vulnerability to drug also depends on individual traits -- physiology, psychology, and social and economic pressures -- these rankings reflect only the addictive potential inherent in the drug. The numbers below are relative rankings, based on the experts' scores for each substance:
100 Nicotine
99 Ice, Glass (Methamphetamine smoked)
98 Crack
93 Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine injected)
85 Valium (Diazepam)
83 Quaalude (Methaqualone)
82 Seconal (Secobarbital)
81 Alcohol
80 Heroin
78 Crank (Amphetamine taken nasally)
72 Cocaine
68 Caffeine
57 PCP (Phencyclidine)
21 Marijuana
20 Ecstasy (MDMA)
18 Psilocybin Mushrooms
18 LSD
18 Mescaline
Research by John Hastings
Relative rankings are definite, numbers given are (+/-)1%

New York Times, Aug. 2, 1994:
Nicotine, alcohol, cocaine & heroin have similar high addictiveness. Caffeine and cannabis have similar low addictiveness. Detail at:


UK Government's Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health 1998:
"1.30 Nicotine has been shown to have effects on brain dopamine systems similar to those of drugs such as heroin and cocaine. People seeking treatment for heroin, cocaine, or alcohol dependence rate cigarettes as hard to give up as their problem drug."

UK Government's Health Committee's The Tobacco Industry and the Health Risks of Smoking:
"The Royal College of Physcians (RCP) drew the following main conclusion: "Cigarette smoking should be understood as a manifestation of nicotine addiction ... the extent to which smokers are addicted to nicotine is comparable with addiction to 'hard' drugs such as heroin and cocaine." We endorse this conclusion, which underlies many of the recommendations in our report and is, we believe, of fundamental importance to policy makers in the UK and elsewhere".

"Overall, nicotine stands out as a form of drug addiction that is second to none, and it is probably harder to give up smoking than to give up other drugs of abuse," said Mr Jarvis [of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund]. "The Royal College of Physicians is saying that society should wake up and recognise that it has a deadly and pervasive addictive drug syndrome covering a quarter of the adult population…",2763,192712,00.html


"…one person in 13 is dependent on alcohol, twice as many as are hooked on other forms of drug, including prescription drugs, says Alcohol Concern.",2763,660017,00.html


"People who drink more than 6 to 8 cups of normal strength tea or coffee a day usually become dependent. They may find it difficult to stop using and experience withdrawal symptoms if they try."\wip\11\1\1\caffeine.html


See Comparison

Society's response to addiction:

"…the Rolleston Committee [UK Government] report of 1926 defined addiction as a disease requiring medical treatment, including maintenance prescribing. This was a 'harm reduction' approach…"