What are the top ten most abused drugs right now? What are their effects, and how is addiction to these substances impacting people and the community at large? Finally, what are the solutions? Here is ten of the most popular drug and their effects:
Legal and socially acceptable, alcohol remains one of the most commonly used drugs there are. Alcohol abuse is a huge problem and causes countless deaths every year as a result of liver damage, heart disease, diabetes, overdose, accidents, and violence.
Alcohol slows down the nervous system impairs motor skills, skews thinking and lowers inhibitions. People who drink and drive put themselves and innocent people at risk, and DUI’s cost millions of dollars in spending and lost productivity. Alcohol abuse contributes to domestic violence, risky sexual behavior which frequently results in sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.
Many people are in denial about the fact that alcohol is a drug, but the reality is that alcohol is believed to be more dangerous than cocaine and even heroin.
While marijuana is lower than other drugs on the danger list, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous. Many drugs have medicinal uses. Heroin is a powerful pain reliever and is used for that purpose in other countries. Alcohol damages almost every organ in the body when it is used in excess, yet we hear that a glass of red wine is good for our heart.
So, is marijuana safe because it is natural and it grows in the ground? Oleanders are lovely flowers that grow in people’s backyards, but if your pet or child eats them, they could die. Natural does not necessarily equal safe.
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that causes altered vision, mood, and behavior. It also slows cognitive processes, impairs motor skills and reaction time, and can lower inhibitions. Because of the slowed reaction time, impaired motor skills and altered vision and perception, people who drive while under the influence of marijuana present a risk to themselves as well as others.
People who begin using marijuana in their teens regularly put themselves at risk for cognitive impairment and loss of IQ points. This damage does not go away when marijuana use stops.
3. Prescription Pain Medication
The abuse of pain medications in the last decade has reached almost epidemic proportions. While pain meds have always had the potential for abuse, something has happened in recent years to cause opiate use to skyrocket.
The influence of big pharmaceutical companies is a major culprit. For years, getting prescriptions filled for drugs like Fentanyl, Codeine, Vicodin, Norco and Oxycontin has been as easy as a quick visit to the emergency room, urgent care or doctors office. Back pain, headaches, toothaches, and other types of chronic pain could keep you in pills for months, more than long enough to become physically and psychologically dependent on them.
Tougher restrictions have been put in place when it comes to prescription pain meds, and abuse-resistant versions of Oxycontin have been introduced, but it seems to be too little, too late. Not only that but with pills harder to get, more and more people are turning to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to get.
Opiates cause drowsiness, slurred speech, slowed respiration and heart rate, impaired movement and reaction, confusion and changes in mood. The euphoric high that is felt can turn into depression, anxiety and agitation. Physical dependence means that stopping the drug will cause withdrawal symptoms that are unpleasant.
The risk of overdose is high. Recent reports state that Fentanyl, which is far more powerful than Heroin, is causing a rash of deaths due to overdose.
Overdose risk is increased when prescription meds are mixed with alcohol or other drugs.
4. Prescription Benzodiazepines
As with pain meds, “benzos” are widely prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and other purposes. In today’s fast-paced, pressure ridden society, anxiety is a huge problem, and drugs like Xanax, Ativan, Ambien and others are freely prescribed to ease the stress.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants and cause a sense of relaxation, well-being, and euphoria. They also cause drowsiness, slurred speech, blurred vision, confusion and lack of coordination. Overdose can be fatal, especially when combined with other drugs like alcohol.
Benzos are highly addictive, and tolerance and dependence occur quickly. Suddenly stopping the use of benzos can be dangerous, and should be medically supervised.
Speed, crank, meth, crystal. This drug is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that can be either manufactured in a high-volume, high-tech lab or the bathtub of a motel room. When you use meth you may be ingesting anything from acetone to lye to sulphuric acid.
Meth produces a euphoric high, alertness, suppressed appetite, increased sex drive, feelings of well-being, confidence and high productivity. It is a seductive drug that can take its users down quickly. Once a person realizes that the drug is having negative effects, it is often too late.
Meth depletes the body and mind, causing severe weight loss, rotting teeth, scarred skin and impaired cognitive function. Meth-induced psychosis often results in hospitalization or jail, and sexually transmitted disease from needle use and unprotected sex are common.
Heroin has been around for a long time, and it is a highly addictive, dangerous drug. Its popularity rises and falls, and right now heroin use is on the upswing. This is largely due to the fact that there are so many people addicted to opiates right now. When pills are not available, an opiate addict will turn to the cheaper, more easily obtained heroin to avoid getting sick.
Heroin poses numerous health risks including infection, overdose, HIV and Hepatitis C, not to mention the effects of addiction which often lead to homelessness, incarceration, and degradation.
Immediate effects of heroin use include a feeling of euphoria, drowsiness, “nodding out”, nausea and confusion. Tolerance develops quickly, and so does addiction.
Steroids are not generally the first thing that comes to mind when talking about commonly abused drugs, but they are a growing problem. Steroids are abused by men and women who use them to help build muscle. This may be for competitive sports or not. Their use causes a wide variety of unpleasant side effects, including aggression, paranoia, impaired judgement and rampant anger and irritability. Physical side effects can include severe acne, balding, increased body hair (in women and men) and other physical changes.
Cocaine can be smoked, snorted, injected or ingested and causes dramatic euphoria followed by a severe crash that causes depression, anxiety and agitation, as well as a strong desire for more.
Cocaine is at its most potent when smoked in “crack” form, and is highly addictive.
9. OTC Medications And Prescription Cough Syrups
Cough syrup and other over the counter medications are widely abused, particularly among younger people. Cough syrup is often consumed at parties and known sometimes as “sizzurp.” Drinking cough syrup or taking other over the counter medications such as cold and allergy capsules in high doses produces feelings of euphoria and can result in addiction, overdose and other health problems.
10. Prescription Stimulants
Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall are becoming more popular, but not for recreational, “partying” use. They are becoming popular among young college students looking to get ahead — or stay afloat — in the increasingly high-pressure world of higher education and employment. Being able to study longer and with more focus, to work longer hours while going to school and to “do it all” and still have fun is alluring to these young people who don’t think there is anything wrong with taking a few of their friend’s ADD meds.
These are powerful stimulants and are addictive. They can result in weight loss, insomnia, agitation, depression and overdose.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, Broadway Treatment Center can help. Call 714-443-8218 today for more information.