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Article Summary

What Are The Most Commonly Abused Drugs

According to the NSDUH (abbreviation for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health), it is estimated that more than 27 million Americans above the age of 12 have reported that they currently abuse illegal drugs. This means that close to 10% of the entire American population admits that they use drugs like inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, and prescription sedatives, stimulants, tranquilizers, and pain relievers for non-medical reasons.

But what are the most commonly abused drugs in the country? Essentially, the data from the NSDUH lists these drugs in terms of their level of popularity. However, it does not include the use of tobacco and alcohol.

Today, people abuse a wide variety of intoxicating and mind altering substances - with some of them going so far as to develop addiction to these drugs. However, abuse also results in severe health problems, overdose, intense withdrawal symptoms, and even death in the most dire of cases.

With drug abuse and addiction becoming such a common occurrence in the United States, it is highly likely that you know some people who engage in this detrimental behavior. However, you might not necessarily have answers to the "what are the most commonly abused drugs?" question, it is still important to realize that drug use is a widespread problem everywhere.

From street corners and cars to refrigerators and bathrooms, drug and alcohol use touches almost every part of American culture. But to answer the above questions, you might want to look at recent national data from a variety of government departments, such as NIDA (or the National Institute on Drug Abuse) and SAMHSA (or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). These bodies provide reliable estimates that show the most commonly abused substances.

Drug Abuse In America

At the moment, the United States is grappling with a crisis involving a wide variety of addictive, intoxicating, and mind altering substances. In fact, in 2015 alone, more than 21 million American adults reported that they had substance use disorders - numbers that have continued climbing over the following years.

By understanding the answers to the "what are the most commonly abused drugs?" question, Americans everywhere can start fighting this crisis before it consumes them up.

Although there are many drugs being abused across the country, SAMHSA's 2015 NSDUH showed that the most common culprits include prescription opioids and tranquilizers, cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol.

While you think about the most commonly abused drugs, you might probably assume that they include substances like cocaine and heroin. Although these drugs are among widely abused in the country, there are many other intoxicating substances on the American market. In fact, even legal drugs like tobacco and prescription medications are highly prone to abuse and addiction.

That said, all of the commonly abused drugs tend to be popular because of their ability to alter the user's judgement and thinking. However, these changes in the chemistry of the brain and body often lead to a wide variety of health risks and effects - including infectious diseases like hepatitis, intoxicated driving and operating of heavy machinery, and addiction.

Most of these drugs also harm unborn babies, cause pregnancy-related problems, and lead to many other adverse effects. This is why it is highly recommended that you seek help from an accredited addiction rehabilitation and treatment facility to ensure that you do not continue suffering these problems.

Commonly Abused Substances

But what are the most commonly abused drugs in the United States? There are many drugs that people tend to misuse for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

1. Alcohol

Americans tend to drink alcohol to relax, celebrate, and socialize. In many cases, these alcoholic beverages tend to have strong effects on users. As a result, Americans all though history have struggled to manage and understand the true power of alcohol.

But how does alcohol work and why does it because its users to feel and act differently than they otherwise would? How much alcohol is considered excessive? And why do some people develop an addiction to alcoholic drinks while others never suffer the same effects?

Essentially, the NIAAA (or the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) has been conducting many tests, research studies, and surveys to find answers to these questions regarding alcohol.

What is clear, however, is that the effects of alcohol will vary from one drinker to another. These variations will largely depend on many factors, including but not limited:

  • The amount of alcohol you consume
  • The frequency of your alcohol consumption
  • Your age
  • Your family history and genetic makeup
  • Your health status

Although drinking alcohol isn't always a problem for some people, doing so in excess tends to come with a wide variety of adverse consequences. It can also increase your risk of suffering many other alcohol-related problems.

2. Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic tea that produced from Pychotria viridis, a plant that contains DMT and which grows naturally in the Amazon. Manufacturers of this drink often combine it with ingredients from Banisteriopsis caapi, another vine that contains MAO inhibitors that prevent DMT from breaking down naturally inside the digestive system.

Through this chemical combination, Ayahuasca enhances the activity of serotonins in the brain. Historically, the tea was used in Amazonian healing and religious ceremonies.

Today, it is known by a variety of street names, including:

  • Aya
  • Yag?
  • Hoasca

However, Ayahuasca has no commercial uses. Instead, users brew it as tea and swallow it in the same they would any other beverage. The DEA classifies it as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government although plants that contain the chemicals in this drink are not similarly controlled.

So, what are the potential health effects of abusing Ayahuasca? Consider the following:

a) Short-Term Effects

  • Altered auditory and visual perceptions
  • Burning sensations inside the stomach
  • Higher than normal blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased skin sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Strong hallucinations
  • Tingling sensations

Long-Term Effects

  • Potential changes to the immune and serotoninergic and immune systems

So, are there any medications used to treat Ayahuasca? Essentially, it is currently not known whether this substance causes chemical dependence and addiction in users. As a direct result, the FDA (or the Food and Drug Administration) has not approved any medications for use in the treatment of addiction to hallucinogens like Ayahuasca.

Similarly, more research has to be done first to find out if this substance comes with a risk of addiction and if such an addiction can be treated through behavioral therapies.

3. Central Nervous System Depressants

CNS (or central nervous system) depressants are substances that can slow down the activity of the brain. As such, these drugs are useful in the treatment of sleep and anxiety problems.

On the street, common CNS depressants are known as

a) Barbiturates (like pentobarbital or Nembutal)

  • Yellows
  • Yellow Jackets
  • Tooies
  • Reds
  • Red Birds
  • Phennies
  • Barbs

b) Benzodiazepines (like alprazolam or Xanax, chlorodiazepoxide or Librium, diazepam or Valium, lorazepam or Ativan, triazolam or Halicon)

  • Tranks
  • Sleeping Pills
  • Downers
  • Candy

c) Sleep Medications (including eszopiclone or Lunesta, zaleplon or Sonata, zolpidem or Ambien)

  • Rophies
  • Rope
  • Roofinol
  • Roofies
  • Roche
  • R2
  • Mexican Valium
  • Forget-me Pill

But what are the potential side effects of abusing these central nervous system depressants? Consider the following:

Short-Term Effects

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Memory problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Problems with movement
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech

The long term effects, however, are as yet unknown. However, these drugs - particularly sleep medications - are commonly used in the form of date rape drugs. If you take them intravenously, you might also increase your risk of developing infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV as a result of sharing the needles.

On the other hand, if you combine CNS depressants with alcohol, the combination of both substances could further slow your breathing and heart rate - sometimes even leading to sudden death.

Even with so many adverse health effects, the FDA has not yet given its approval for any medications for the treatment of an addiction to these drugs. However, it is highly recommended that you seek help from a professional detox program or addiction rehabilitation facility. This way, the medical experts working there will help you lower the dose you take over time until you no longer need to continue taking these drugs.

4. Cocaine

Cocaine is a potent and highly addictive stimulant substance. It is made from the coca plant (its leaves, to be specific) that is native to South America.

On the street, cocaine is commonly referred to as:

  • Blow
  • Bump
  • C
  • Candy
  • Charlie
  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Flake
  • Rock
  • Snow
  • Toot

Commercially, however, it is also known as Cocaine hydrochloride and it appears in the form of a topical solution that is used as an anesthetic albeit in very rare cases. It appears in the form of a whitish rock crystal or white powder that users typically inject, smoke, or snort.

Consider the following adverse effects of cocaine abuse:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Abdominal pain
  • Alertness
  • Anxiety
  • Coma
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Euphoria
  • Headaches
  • Heart attack
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased energy
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Narrowed blood vessels
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Restlessness
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Violent and erratic behavior

b) Long-Term Effects

  • Death of bowel tissue as a result of decreased blood flow to the area
  • Infection of bowel tissue
  • Loss of your sense of smell
  • Lung damage as a result of smoking cocaine
  • Nasal damage
  • Nosebleeds
  • Poor nutrition
  • Trouble swallowing as a result of snorting cocaine
  • Weight loss

The drug also causes a wide variety of other issues related to health. If you take cocaine while pregnant, therefore, you might suffer premature delivery, and your child could suffer low birth weight and deficits in attention and self-regulation because you exposed them to the substance prenatally.

Cocaine also comes with a high risk of infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV - especially among users who share the needles they use to take the drug intravenously.

When taken alongside alcohol, the drug creates a higher risk of suffering cardiac toxicity - more than you would experience from either of these intoxication substances alone.

If you have developed dependence and addiction to cocaine, you are also likely to experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Slowed movement
  • Slowed thinking
  • Tiredness
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams

In such situations, it is best that you seek addiction treatment. Although the FDA has not yet approved any drugs for the treatment of such a substance use disorder and addiction, there are some behavioral therapies that can be used at the rehabilitation center to help you get rid of your addiction. These include:

  • The Matrix Model
  • Mobile medical application, reSET? in particular
  • Contingency management, that comes with motivational incentives like vouchers
  • Community-based recovery groups, including 12-Step programs and non-12 step programs
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (or CBT)

5. DMT

DMT is a synthetic drug that produces intense - albeit relatively short lived - hallucinogenic experiences for users. This substance occurs naturally in some plants native to South American (such as Ayahuasca).

On the street, it is known by the following names:

  • DMT
  • Dimitri

Although it has not commercial uses, it appears in the form of a yellow or white crystalline powder that users inject into their bloodstreams or smoke. Both form of abuse come with the following potential health effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Seizures
  • Intense visual hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depersonalization
  • Auditory distortions
  • Altered perceptions of body image and time, which usually peak in half a hour when DMT is drank as a tea
  • Agitation

Although the long term effects of abusing DMT are currently unknown, taking the drug in high doses can cause respiratory and cardiac arrest - conditions that could possibly lead to sudden death unless you receive immediate emergency medical attention.

However, it is not yet known whether this drug comes with a high potential for addiction. As such, the FDA has not given its approval for any medication to be used in the treatment of such an addiction and more research is required to discover the addictive potential of this drug.

6. GHB

GHB is a depressant drug that has been approved for use in treating narcolepsy - a common disorder that often causes sleep attacks during the day in its sufferers.

On the street, the drug is known as:

  • G
  • Georgia Home Boy
  • Goop
  • Grievous Bodily Harm
  • Liquid Ecstasy
  • Liquid X
  • Soap
  • Scoop

Chemically and commercially known as Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (or sodium oxybate or Xyrem), GHB appears in the form of a white powder or colorless liquid. Most people swallow it - sometimes in combination with other beverages like alcohol.

When abused, GHB comes with the following side effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Death
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Lower body temperature
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting

The drug's long term effects are currently unknown, although some people use it as a date rape substance. When combined with alcoholic beverages, it can cause the following adverse effects:

  • Greatly enhanced depressant effects
  • Nausea
  • Problems with breathing

On the other hand, if you have developed a chemical dependence on GHB, you might suffer a variety of withdrawal symptoms if you reduce your normal dose or cut out the drug completely. These symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • - Psychotic thoughts
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

Benzodiazepines have been approved for use in treating GHB dependence and addiction. However, more research is still needed to discover whether behavioral therapies are effective in treating this form of drug addiction.

7. Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens - also known as dissociative drugs - are drugs that are known to cause profound and ongoing changes and distortions in the user's perception of reality. These drugs include Ayahausca, DMT, salvia, psilocybin, PCP, Peyote (or mescaline), LSD, and ketamine.

8. Heroin

Heroin is a drug that belongs to the opioid class of intoxicating and mind altering substances. Made from morphine, it is classified as a natural drug because it is naturally extracted from opium poppy plant seed pods.

On the street, heroin is known as:

  • Brown sugar
  • China White
  • Dope
  • H
  • Horse
  • Junk
  • Skag
  • Skunk
  • Smack
  • White Horse

It is often combined with over the counter antihistamine and cold medications. Either way, heroin appears in the form of black sticky substances (known as black tar heroin) and a brownish or white powder. Users snort, smoke, and inject all forms of the drug.

Abusing heroin can cause the following effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Analgesia
  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoria
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Vomiting

b) Long Term Effects

  • Abscesses (or swollen tissue filled with pus)
  • Collapsed veins
  • Constipation
  • Infection of the valves and lining of the heart
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Stomach cramps

The drug also causes a wide variety of other health-related problems. For instance, if you take it while pregnant, you might suffer a miscarriage and cause your child to risk neonatal abstinence syndrome and low birth weight.

Those who abuse heroin intravenously might also run a higher risk of developing infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV as a result of sharing needles. On the other hand, if you take heroin at the same time as alcohol, you are likely to suffer dangerously slowed breathing and heart rate, coma, and even death.

When you develop a dependence to this drug and you stop taking it altogether or reduce the dose you have become accustomed to using, you might suffer the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Bone pain
  • Cold flashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Goose bumps
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting

While treating a substance use disorder and addiction involving heroin, most rehabilitation facilities and detox centers will use medications like Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone (in both its long- and short-acting forms). They might also use behavioral therapies, including 12 step facilitation therapy and motivational incentives like contingency management.

9. Inhalants

Some people abuse the gases, aerosols, and solvents found in most household products like cleaning fluids, glues, markers, and spray paints. Others inhale nitrites like amyl nitrite - a prescription medication used to treat chest pain. All these drugs are collectively known as inhalants.

On the street, inhalants are known by a wide variety of names, including laughing gas, whippets, snappers, and poppers. They come in the form of:

  • Aerosol computer cleaning products
  • Butane lighters
  • Chloroform
  • Correction fluids
  • Degreasers
  • Deodorant sprays
  • Dry-cleaning fluids
  • Electronics cleaners
  • Ether
  • Fabric protector sprays
  • Freeze sprays
  • Gasoline
  • Glue
  • Hair sprays
  • Halothane
  • Lighter fluids
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Paint removers
  • Paint thinners
  • Permanent markers
  • Propane tanks
  • Refrigerant gases
  • Spray paint
  • Vegetable oil sprays
  • Whipped cream aerosol containers

Whether you inhale them through the mouth or nose, these drugs can cause the following effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Confusion
  • Death resulting from choking, coma, seizures, convulsions, and asphyxiation
  • Delusions
  • Disinhibition
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Sudden sniffing death as a result of heart failure (especially when you inhale propane, butane, and any other chemical in aerosols)

b) Nitrite Effects

If you abuse nitrites, you might also suffer additional effects, like:

  • Brief sensation of excitement and heat
  • Dizziness
  • Enhanced sexual pleasure
  • Enlarged blood vessels
  • Headache
  • Higher risk of pneumonia
  • Increased heart rate

c) Long Term Effects

  • Bone marrow damage
  • Brain damage resulting from a severe lack of oxygen, a condition that could cause you to suffer problems with hearing, vision, movement, and thinking
  • Kidney damage
  • Limb spasms as a result of nerve damage
  • Liver damage

If you continue abusing inhalants, you are also likely to suffer adverse health effects. Expectant mothers who take these drugs, in particular, may cause their babies to be born with low birth weight, delayed behavioral development as a result of brain problems, bone problems, and altered body composition and metabolism.

Abusing these drugs might also lead to dependence, which is characterized by the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Problems sleeping
  • Tremors

In terms of treatment, the FDA has not approved any medications for treating this form of drug addiction. More research is also required to discover if there are any behavioral therapies that can be used in inhalant addition treatment and rehabilitation.

10. Ketamine

Ketamine is classified as a dissociative drug. It is commonly used by veterinarians as an anesthetic. As a dissociative substance, it is a hallucinogen and it can cause you to feel detached from your sense of reality.

On the streets, this drug is also known as Cat Valium, Vitamin K, K, and Special K. Its commercial name is Ketalar? and it appears in the form of a liquid or white powder. People usually smoke, swallow, snort, or inject it - or even add the powder to marijuana and tobacco cigarettes.

Irrespective of the mode of administration, the drug can cause the following effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Confusion
  • Dangerously slowed breathing
  • Dreamlike states
  • Hallucinations
  • Learning difficulties
  • Loss of memory
  • Memory issues
  • Problems with attention
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Sedation
  • Unconsciousness

b) Long Term Effects

In the long term, Ketamine can cause:

  • Depression
  • Kidney problems
  • Pain inside the bladder
  • Poor memory
  • Stomach pain
  • Ulcers

This drug is so dissociative that it is sometimes used in instances of date rape. Those who take it intravenously run the risk of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV - especially when they share needles. If you decide to combine Ketamine with alcohol, it will increase the risk of suffering additional adverse effects.

Even with so many effects, the FDA has not approved any medications for use in treating ketamine addiction - or addiction to any other dissociative drug for that matter.

11. Khat

Khat is a shrub (also known as Catha edulis) that is commonly found in southern Arabia and East Africa. It contains psychoactive chemicals, such as cathine and cathinone.

People from Arabian and African regions (an estimated of about 20 million people) have been using this drug for many centuries for its stimulant properties - particularly as a cultural tradition.

On the streets, it is usually referred to as:

  • Abyssinian Tea
  • Miraa
  • African Salad
  • Catha
  • Chat
  • Kat
  • Oat

Although there are no commercial or medicinal uses of the drug, it is still abused in its natural state - either as dried or fresh leaves. Users chew the leaves, or brew them into a tea.

The DEA classified the cathinone in Khat as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government. However, it does not control the khat plant.

Irrespective of the mode of use, khat causes the following effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Faster heart rate
  • Fine tremors
  • Headaches
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased arousal
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of memory in the short-term
  • Paranoia

b) Long Term Effects

  • Constipation
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Increased risk of suffering a heart attack
  • Stomach inflammation
  • Ulcers

c) Other Effects

In some rare cases - especially if you use this drug heavily, it can also cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Grandiose delusions (or fantastical beliefs that you have superior qualities like wealth, power, and fame)
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Psychotic reactions

If you become dependent on khat and you stop taking it - or significantly decrease the dosage you had become accustomed to, you might suffer the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nightmares

Since it is not yet known whether this drug carries a high risk of addiction, the FDA has not approved any medications for the treatment of khat abuse. More research is also needed to discover its addictive potential and if behavioral therapies can deal with such an addiction.

12. Kratom

Kratom is a tropical deciduous tree that grows naturally in Southeast Asia. Also known as Mitragyna speciose, kratom has leave which contain a variety of compounds - including but not limited to mitragynine (a psychoactive and mind altering opioid).

People abuse this drug for its pain relief and mood lifting effects, as well as for its aphrodisiac properties. On the streets, it is known as:

  • Biak-biak
  • Herbal Speedball
  • Ithang
  • Kahuam
  • Ketum
  • Thom

Those who abuse Kratom take the dried or fresh leaves, or in the form of a gum, liquid, or powder. The leaves are chewed or eaten mixed in food. Others brew the leaves to make a beverage while others smoke it.

All these modes of administration bring about a variety of effects, including:

a) Short Term Effects

In the short term, Kratom causes:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • High doses cause decreased pain, euphoria, and sedation
  • Increased urination
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low doses cause alertness, sociability, and increased energy
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

b) Long Term Effects

  • Anorexia
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Skin darkening
  • Weight loss

If you become dependent on Kratom, you may suffer the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Aggression
  • Emotional changes
  • Hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Jerky movements
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose

There are no medications because clinical trials have still not been conducted on how to treat Kratom addiction. In the same way, there are no behavioral therapies available for treating this form of substance use disorder and addiction.

13. LSD

LSD is a hallucinogenic drug that is synthesized from lysergic acid - which is derived from ergot, a type of fungus that grows on grains like rye. LSD is an abbreviated name for lysergic acid diethylamide, the scientific name for the drug.

It is also known by the following street names:

  • Acid
  • Blotter
  • Blue Heaven
  • Cubes
  • Microdot
  • Yellow Sunshine

LSD does not have any commercial uses. However, it appears in the form of a clear liquid, a small decorated square of absorbent paper into which the clear liquid is added, and as capsules and tablets. People swallow the drug or absorb the paper squares through mouth tissues.

All form of LSD abuse cause the following effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Rapid emotional swings
  • Distortion of reality
  • Inability to think rationally
  • Difficulty communicating with others
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Faster heart rate
  • Higher body temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Enlarged pupils

b) Long Term Effects

  • Disorganized thinking
  • Frightening flashbacks (also known as HPPD or Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder)
  • Mood swings
  • Ongoing visual disturbances
  • Paranoia

14. Cannabis (Marijuana)

Cannabis is manufactured from a hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. It's main mind altering or psychoactive chemical is THC (or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). On the street, the drug is known by a variety of names, including:

  • Blunt
  • Boom
  • Bud
  • Dope
  • Gangster
  • Ganja
  • Grass
  • Green
  • Hash
  • Hashish
  • Hemp
  • Herb
  • Joint
  • Mary Jane
  • Pot
  • Reefer
  • Sinsemilla
  • Skunk
  • Smoke
  • Trees
  • Weed

Marijuana is also known by other brand names in those states where it is legal. It appears in the form of a greenish gray mixture of highly dried and shredded flowers, seeds, stems, and leaves, as well as a sticky and black liquid (called hash oil) or a resin (hashish).

The drug is commonly eaten as edibles when it is mixed in foods like cookies, drank as tea, or smoked. Irrespective of the mode of use, marijuana causes the following effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Enhanced euphoria
  • Enhanced sensory perception
  • Higher appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Problems with coordination and balance
  • Problems with memory and learning
  • Relaxation
  • Slowed reaction time

b) Long Term Effects

  • Chronic cough
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Mental health problems

If you start abusing marijuana during your teens, it is possible that you might loss points in IQ tests. On the other hand, expectant mothers who use cannabis might get babies born with problems with memory, attention, and problem solving abilities.

Those who combine this drug with alcohol suffer:

  • Further slowing of reaction time and mental processing
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

In case you have been abusing marijuana for a long time and you have developed a chemical tolerance and dependence on the drug, it is also highly likely that you might suffer the following withdrawal symptoms. This is particularly true if you reduce your normal dose or stop using it altogether:

  • Anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping

Although the FDA has not approved any medications for the treatment of marijuana addiction, some addiction rehabilitation facilities use the following behavioral therapies:

  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (or MET)
  • Mobile medical application of reSET? for teens who abuse cannabis
  • Contingency management, which is also known as motivational incentives
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (or CBT)
  • Behavioral treatments geared to adolescents

15. MDMA, Ecstasy, Or Molly

MDMA, which is also referred to as Molly or ecstasy, is a synthetic and psychoactive drug that is similar both to mescaline (a hallucinogen) and amphetamine (a stimulant drug).

MDMA is the abbreviation for 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine - the scientific name for ecstasy. On the street, the drug is also known as:

  • Uppers
  • Peace
  • Lover's Speed
  • Eve
  • Clarity
  • Adam

The drug appears in the form of colorful tablets with logos imprinted on them, powder, capsules, and liquids. People usually swallow or snort Molly, leading to the following effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Sweating
  • Sharp rises in body temperature that could cause kidney failure or sudden death
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Lowered inhibition
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Faintness
  • Enhanced sensory perception
  • Chills

b) Long Term Effects

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Reduced interest in sexual activity
  • Problems with attention
  • Memory problems
  • Long-lasting confusion
  • Increased anxiety
  • Impulsiveness
  • Depression

If you combine MDMA with alcohol, it will decrease some of the effects of alcohol. However, alcohol might increase the concentrations of this drug in your blood plasma, leading to a higher risk of experiencing various neurotoxic effects.

After you become dependent on Molly, you might suffer the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

The evidence about the addictive nature of this drug is conflicting. As such, the FDA has not yet approved any medication for use in treating this form of substance abuse.

16. Mescaline Or Peyote

Peyote or Mescaline is a hallucinogenic drug that is commonly found in the disk-shaped buttons that occur on the crown of some cacti - such as peyote. On the street, it is known as Mesc, Cactus, or Buttons.

The drug has not commercial uses. It appears in the form of dried or fresh buttons and capsules that can people swallow by chewing or soaking in water before drinking. This causes the following effects:

  • Anxiety
  • Enhanced feeling
  • Enhanced perception
  • Euphoria
  • Faster heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Problems with movement
  • Sweating

There are no medications approved by the FDA or behavioral therapies that are used to treat a mescaline addiction - or dependence on any other hallucinogen for that matter.

17. Methamphetamine

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that belongs in the class of drugs known as amphetamines. On the street, it is known as:

  • Speed
  • Meth
  • Ice
  • Go Fast
  • Glass
  • Fire
  • Crystal
  • Crank
  • Chalk

Methamphetamine is also known as Desoxyn?. It comes in the form of a white pill or powder. Crystal meth, on the other hand, resembles pieces of shiny blue-white rocks or glass that are of different sizes. Users typically inject, smoke, snort, or swallow the drug, leading to the following effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • Decreased appetite
  • Faster heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Increased breathing
  • Increased physical activity
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Irregular heartbeat

b) Long Term Effects

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Intense itching that could lead to serious skin sores as a result of scratching
  • Mood problems
  • Paranoia
  • Severe dental problems (also known as meth mouth)
  • Violent behavior
  • Weight loss

If you use methamphetamine while pregnant, you might experience premature delivery. Additionally, the placenta might separate from the uterus and your child could suffer brain and heart problems, lethargy, and low birth weight. Intravenous users of the drug also run the risk of contracting infectious illnesses like HIV and hepatitis - particularly then they share needles.

Those who combine alcohol with meth might experience some adverse effects because the drug can mask some of the depressant effects of alcohol. This could potentially increase the risk of suffering an alcohol overdose. Such drug mixing might also increase your blood pressure.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms that arise when you stop taking meth or reduce your usual dose include tiredness, depression, and anxiety. Even so, the FDA is yet to approve any medication for treating this form of substance use disorder and addiction. However, some facilities use the following behavioral therapies:

  • The Matrix Model
  • Mobile medical application of reSET?
  • Contingency management (motivational incentives)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • 12-Step facilitation therapy

18. PCP

PCP is a dissociative drug that was initially developed and marketed as an aesthetic for intravenous use. Due to the serious and adverse effects it causes, it was discontinued from the market and has no medical uses.

As a dissociative substance, it is a hallucinogen that can cause you to feel detached from your sense of reality. Even so, you should keep in mind that PCP is an abbreviated name for phencyclidine - its scientific name.

On the street, PCP is known as:

  • Angel Dust
  • Boat
  • Hog
  • Love Boat
  • Peace Pill

It appears in the form of a colored or white capsule, tablet, or powder, as well as a clear liquid. Users often inject, snort, swallow, or smoke the drug - while some may add the powder to marijuana, oregano, parsley, and mint for further ingestion.

PCP comes with the following health complications and effects:

a) Short Term Effects

  • A sense of distance from your environment
  • Anxiety
  • Delusions,
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Problems thinking

b) Effects from Low Doses

If you take it in low doses, the drug can cause

  • Face redness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Numbness of the feet and hands
  • Problems with movement
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slight increases in breathing rate
  • Sweating

c) Effects from High Doses

On the other hand, high doses of PCP can cause:

  • Coma
  • Death
  • Dizziness
  • Drooling
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • The eyes flicking up and down
  • Violence
  • Vomiting

d) Long Term Effects

  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory loss
  • Problems with speech
  • Problems with thinking

The drug has variously been linked with a higher risk of self-injury as well as infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis (which is usually the case for intravenous drug users who share the needles they use to inject PCP).

If you develop a chemical dependence to this drug, you might also suffer some withdrawal symptoms when you reduce your normal dose or quit altogether:

  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite
  • Sleepiness

Even so, there are no medications approved by the FDA or behavioral therapies used in treating addiction to and dependence on PCP or any other dissociative drug.

20. Prescription Opioids

While trying to answer the "what are the most commonly abused drugs?" question, you cannot forget to mention prescription opioids. These drugs are primarily used for pain relief and they are a similar origin to heroin.

Opioids can sometimes cause euphoria, which is why people abuse them for non-medical reason - risking sudden death as a result of overdose. On the street, they are known as:

  • Amidone
  • Apache
  • Biscuits
  • Blue Heaven
  • Blues
  • Captain Cody
  • China Girl
  • China White
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Cody
  • D
  • Dance Fever
  • Demmies
  • Dillies
  • Doors and Fours
  • Fizzies
  • Footballs
  • Friend
  • Goodfella
  • Hillbilly Heroin
  • Jackpot
  • Juice
  • Lean
  • Loads
  • M
  • Miss Emma
  • Monkey
  • Mrs. O
  • Murder 8
  • O Bomb
  • O.C.
  • Octagons
  • Oxy
  • Oxycet
  • Oxycotton
  • Pancakes
  • Percs
  • Purple Drank
  • Schoolboy
  • Sizzurp
  • Smack
  • Stop Signs
  • Syrup
  • Tango and Cash
  • TNT
  • Vike
  • Watson-387
  • White Stuff

a) Short Term Effects

In the short term, these drugs can cause:

  • Constipation
  • Death
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Pain relief
  • Slowed breathing

b) Long Term Effects

  • Heightened risk of overdose
  • Risk of medication abuse if they are misused

If you abuse prescription opioids while pregnant, you might miscarry or give birth to a child with low birth weight and neonatal withdrawal syndrome. Older adults have a higher risk of accidental abuse and misuse because they might have many prescriptions. This comes with the potential for drug interactions that could prove dangerous.

On the other hand, if you take these drugs intravenously, you will increase your risk of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV. Similarly, mixing these drugs with alcohol could slow your breathing and heart rate to such dangerous levels that you might suffer a coma or sudden death.

Prescription opioids also come with the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Bone pain
  • Cold flashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Goose bumps
  • Insomnia
  • Leg movements
  • Muscle pain
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting

To treat a prescription opioid addiction, the rehabilitation facility might use management medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Similarly, they are likely to combine these treatments with the behavioral therapies used in dealing with heroin addiction.

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