What Are The Most Common Drugs Of Abuse

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    You’ve heard of the wide array of drugs that are out there–bath salts, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and more.  But what are they, how are they different from each other, and how do you spot the signs of abuse?

    Here are some of the most commonly abused drugs.


    Also called pot, weed, Mary Jane, reefer, grass, herb, joint, blunt, dope, smoke and skunk, this substance comes from the leaves, stem and flowers of the cannabis plant.  They are typically rolled into a cigarette–called a joint–and smoked.  Sometimes it is baked into food such as brownies and eaten.  Consumption produces euphoria (high), makes the user feel relaxed and distorts the senses.  It also slows reaction time and impairs balance and coordination, making it a catalyst for accidents.  Aside from alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently found substance in the bloodstream of those who are the cause of automobile accidents.

    Other effects include raised heart rate, increased appetite (also known as the munchies), anxiety, panic attacks and psychosis.  It can also impair learning and cause memory problems and has been shown to cause a drop in I.Q. later in life if used frequently during the developmental teenage years.  It can also cause respiratory problems, lung cancer, and addiction, and it often leads to abuse of other, harder drugs.

    You can spot marijuana use by its strong smell when smoked, by slurred speech or obvious signs of euphoria in the user.  He will likely be saying things that are nonsensical, or he could be hallucinating.  He will make strange mistakes and will act clumsy.

    Prescription Drugs

    Prescription drugs include depressants, stimulants and opioid pain relievers.  Depressants include sleep medication, benzodiazepines and barbiturates such as Xanax, Phenobarbital, Valium and Lunesta.  Used as prescribed, they can be injected or swallowed, but users can still become addicted this way.  On the street, they are usually injected, swallowed or snorted to get high.  They cause drowsiness, reduced anxiety, euphoria, confusion, dizziness, slurred speech and impaired coordination.  They also cause memory problems and increased risk of death when mixed with alcohol.

    Stimulants include amphetamines such as Biphetamine, Dexedrine and Adderall; or Methylphenidate such as Ritalin or Concerta.  They are ingested, injected, snorted or smoked.  They cause feelings of exhilaration, increased energy and mental alertness, which is why they are often abused at school.  They can also cause increased heart rate, weight loss, nervousness, insomnia, seizures, heart attack and stroke.  Amphetamines may produce rapid breathing, tremor, irritability, panic, paranoia, hallucinations and aggressiveness.

    Prescription opioids include codeine (found in cough syrup), morphine, methadone, and oxycodone.  They are chewed, swallowed, snorted, smoked, injected or can be used as a suppository.  They produce pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination, confusion, dry mouth, itching, sweating, clammy skin and constipation.  They may also cause slowed or arrested breathing, lowered pulse, unconsciousness, coma or death.

    Prescription drugs often lead to heroin use, as it produces the same high but is cheaper to buy.

    Synthetic Drugs

    This includes party drugs (club drugs) or hallucinogens such as LSD, bath salts, synthetic marijuana and Smiles.  These are ingested, snorted or injected and can cause vivid hallucination, psychotic episodes, rapidly increased heart rate and increased risk of suicide.

    There have also been continued trends with alcohol abuse as well as a new connection between prescription drug users switching to heroin.

    Check out NIDA Facts [National Institute on Drug Abuse] for more information or our main site at http://www.narconon.org.

    If you know of any emerging drug threats or substances of abuse please share with us by leaving a comment below.

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