drug abuse

Commonly Abused Drugs

Drug abuse is a huge issue in the United States. There are an estimated over 20 million Americans, aged 12 and over, with a substance abuse problem.  Millions of people struggle to maintain sobriety from these drugs.  Families struggle with helping their loves ones with addiction on a constant basis. 

Unfortunately, there are many different types of drugs that Americans are addicted to. Just a few of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States, other than alcohol and tobacco, are listed here.

  • Marijuana: the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. Many states are actually legalizing the use of marijuana, also known as cannabis, pot, weed, or grass. Made from the Cannabis sativa plant, marijuana is most commonly smoked, though it can also be eaten (usually cooked into different foods). The effects of marijuana include relaxation, impaired coordination, memory loss, feelings of euphoria. Though not considered to be addictive, people can become addicted to the act of smoking marijuana. It’s also considered a gateway drug to harder substances.
  • Cocaine: though decreased in popularity in recent years, cocaine has been near the top of the list for decade. Also known as crack, coke, or snow, cocaine can be smoked, injected, snorted, or swallowed. The effects are increased alertness, paranoia, irregular heartbeat, and pleasure, though the intensity and duration of the high depends on how it is taken.  Cocaine use is associate with heart problems, as well as brain, kidney, and lung damage. Crack cocaine is a cheaper and more intense alternative to cocaine.
  • Painkillers and Benzodiazepines: painkillers, often prescribed for pain after injury or surgery, are very easy to become addicted to. These are drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, and codeine and many patients don’t realize they’ve become addicted to painkillers. Benzodiazepines, or ‘benzos,’ are prescribed mood-regulating drugs, such as Valium, Xanax, and Diazepam. Like painkillers, users often don’t realize they’ve become addicted to the benzodiazepines.
  • Heroin: increasing in popularity, the effects of heroin can be slowed breathing, pleasure, and drowsiness. Heroin use can cause serious withdrawal symptoms, such as vomiting, aches, and confusion, which can easily lead to overdose if a person takes too much. Heroin is typically injected, which is also problematic if using dirty needles.
  • Methamphetamine: also called meth, crank, speed, and crystal, methamphetamine use is increasing over the years. Typically injected, snorted, smoked, or eaten, methamphetamine is a stimulant that shares many effects with cocaine. There are many withdrawal symptoms, like depression and cramps, and long term use can cause paranoia, hallucinations, heart damage, and damage to the teeth. Withdrawal that is medically managed can help the user deal with the symptoms.
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