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Drug Information and Resources You Should Know

When you think about drugs, there are probably several that immediately come to mind. There are actually many different ones that can lead to an addiction. We would like to make it easy for you to find the information you need on the ones you want to learn about.

On this page, you will find facts about each drug category. You will also see that we have added links to some relevant pages to help you in your research.

Whether you are an addict yourself, or you know someone who is, this information will help you. Please remember that it is possible to recover from any addiction. You only need the right kind of support.

You can overcome your addiction. Quite often, doing so begins with increasing your knowledge on the drug(s) you're using.

Top Addictive Drug Categories

With the use of any type of drug, there is the risk of addiction. The problem is that many people are not aware of their addictive potential.

The following is a list of the top addictive drug categories. If you are currently using, or you know someone who is, chances are pretty good that you will find your drug of choice among them.

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabinoids
  • Opiates and Opioids
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Stimulant Drugs
  • Depressant Drugs
  • Hallucinogens
  • Over the Counter Medications
  • Inhalants
  • Steroid Drugs
Alcohol

Alcohol

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the United States. It is one that most consider to be safe because it is so readily available to those who are old enough to buy it. This fact alone is what makes it one of the most dangerous drugs on the market.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 86% of people over the age of 18 have consumed at least one alcoholic beverage. Additionally, more than 79% say that they have drank within the last year. 56% of people have consumed alcohol at some point within the last month.

Furthermore, alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) is at an all-time high. In 2015, 15.1 million people ages 18 and older had AUD. That is not including the estimated 623,000 adolescents with the disorder. The problem is that only 6.7% of adults and 5.2% of teenagers received treatment that year.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are drugs that have a direct impact on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. In many ways, these drugs are viewed the same way alcohol is viewed. People assume that they are some of the safest substances to use. This is not true at all.

The problem is that people use them thinking that they will not have to worry about getting addicted to them. This is not the case at all. While many of the drugs listed below are not physically addictive, they are very psychologically addictive.

Recreational marijuana has become legal in several states across the U.S., including Washington State. This, of course, has increased the number of people who have used it. Those numbers will continue to increase as more states are added to that list.

The bottom line is that cannabinoids can be dangerous. Once someone starts using them, it is very difficult to stop, and it is possible to get addicted, resulting in cannabis use disorder.

Opiates

Opiates and Opioids

Opiates are drugs that are made from the opium poppy plant. The drug category opioids includes these drugs, but it also includes ones that are created in a lab, but that attach to opioid receptors in the body. The one exception is Kratom, which grows naturally, but acts on opioid receptors.

Most of the prescription drugs on this list are used to treat chronic pain or other ailments. The illegal substances listed here may be used as a way to relieve pain, improve symptoms of anxiety or depression, or simply for their euphoric effects.

Prescription opioids do have their place within the medical community. But even though doctors recommend them, they can still become highly addictive when they are misused. This might even mean that someone takes them according to a doctor’s instructions, but does so for too long. Many people accidentally become addicted to opioid drugs every single year.

There is no denying the fact that our country is currently facing an opioid crisis unlike anything we have seen before. These drugs are misused far more often than any other substance. Many people start by taking a prescription medication such as Vicodin or Oxycodone. When they can no longer obtain their medicine, they will sometimes switch to heroin.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription Drugs

Without a doubt, prescription medications are some of the most dangerous drugs in the world. Like alcohol and cannabinoids, they are perceived to be safe, and because of this, they are widely abused.

Some prescription drugs carry warnings on their labels about their addictive nature. But this is not true for all of them. Some – such as Paxil – do not offer any warnings at all. People take them in good faith that they will work for their conditions. When they want to stop them, they are often shocked to find out that they cannot.

The fact is that even when a drug is deemed not to be physically addictive, it can still be mentally addictive. Many of the medications on the market today will cause withdrawal when they are stopped. Considering the number of people who need to be on prescribed medications in the United States (55% as of 2017) this is extremely concerning.

More needs to be done to warn people of the addictive nature of their prescription medications. This may mean the labeling criteria needs to be revisited, or that doctors need to have more informative discussions with their patients.

Stimulants

Stimulant Drugs

Stimulant drugs do different things in the body, depending on what type of drug it is, and the reason for its use. In general, people use illegal stimulants (cocaine, crack and crystal meth) for the high they produce, as well as for the excitable effects they experience. On the other hand, prescription stimulants work a little bit differently.

For someone who is in need of a prescription stimulant, the drug will actually slow them down. These medications are commonly prescribed to people who suffer from ADD or ADHD. College students frequently use them (with or without a doctor’s order) for the purpose of staying awake to study as well. When there is no medical need for a drug like Adderall or Concerta, the result is more alertness.

What is interesting is that while the country suffers under the weight of the opioid crisis, a new addiction problem is running rampant. We are also facing a stimulant crisis, and it may be even worse.

John Eadie, who is the Coordinator for the National Emerging Threats Initiative says, “No one is paying attention to this. Everyone, correctly, is focused on opioids and should be because of the known problem there. But this other problem is catching up with us very rapidly. We’re now facing a very significant stimulant epidemic.” He goes on to say that for every kilo of heroin that is seized over the last five years, the DEA has seized 15 kilos of stimulants.

Depressants

Depressant Drugs

Most depressants are drugs that are prescribed for people who have severe anxiety or panic attacks. But there are some that are illegal (GHB). The ones that are available by prescription may sometimes be used to treat other types of mental health issues as well.

Like other medications, some depressants are labeled as addictive, but others are not. The truth is that they can all become addictive when they are taken too long, or they are abused in other ways.

NIDA reports that the misuse of depressants has become a serious problem. It is estimated that around 54 million people in the United States have used these drugs nonmedically at least once. That is more than 20% of people ages 12 and older. Also, more people are taking these medications now than ever before. Doctors seem far too willing to prescribe them.

There are additional risks involved with taking depressants as well; especially for the elderly population. People who are 65 and older account for about 1/3 of all medications that are prescribed. Yet, they only represent about 13% of the total population. Also, the number of people taking three or more prescribed medications has increased dramatically. In 1988, it was one-third, but in 2000, it was close to one-half. Elderly people can experience much more serious side effects from depressant drugs, such as hallucinations, delusions and psychosis.

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens

Even though they are often said to be among the safest drugs to abuse, hallucinogens are actually some of the most dangerous. They are illegal in the United States, and they cause the user to experience strange sensations. Some report having out of body experiences or visiting alternate realms. You can read reports about users being visited by aliens or having extreme visualizations.

Hallucinogens alter people’s perceptions, thoughts and feelings. The images people seem very real to them, but they are not. Once someone gets high on them – depending on the drug – they can stay high for hours.

Research has suggested that these drugs work by temporarily interrupting communication in the brain and spinal cord. Some interfere with the body’s serotonin levels, while others affect the brain’s glutamate levels.

What is interesting is that these drugs affect everyone in different ways. Some people report having what they call a good trip, which means the high was enjoyable. Others may report having a bad trip. This means that the high they experienced was scary or unpleasant in some other way. In either scenario, the user is stuck in the high until the drug wears off.

Over the Counter Medications

Over the Counter Medications

People are often surprised to hear that over the counter medications can be addictive. Most people would never dream of abusing something they buy over the counter, but it happens all the time. These drugs are available to almost everyone, and they are perceived to be safe.

In many cases, the abuse of OTC drugs can be just as dangerous as abusing illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine. Two of the most commonly abused ones are DXM and Loperamide.

DXM is an opioid medication, but it does not act on the opioid receptors in the body. When it is taken in high doses, it can have a depressant effect. People can hallucinate on it, much like they do when taking drugs like PCP. It is readily available in many of the most popular brands of cough syrup.

Loperamide is also an opioid drug, but it does not enter the brain unless it is taken in high doses. It can also enter the brain if it is combined with other drugs. In these cases, the medication can act similarly to other opioids, resulting in a high.

Inhalants

Inhalants

Inhalants are drugs that are commonly abused by younger people. But there are some adults who will abuse them as well. These are products that most people can find in and around their homes. Most of the time, people fail to recognize that they can be used as drugs, they can be abused, and they can lead to an addiction.

Inhalant drugs are very dangerous. Using them can quickly lead to paranoia and other serious mental health problems because of their psychoactive properties. It should go without saying, but they should not be used for the purpose of getting high.

The high these drugs produce usually only lasts for a few minutes. As a result, people will often use them continuously to make the euphoria last as long as possible.

There are a number of different products that can be considered inhalant drugs. They include:

  • Lighter fluid
  • Dry cleaning fluid
  • Correction fluid
  • Felt tip markers
  • Electronic contact cleaners
  • Glue

These drugs work by impacting the central nervous system and slowing down the brain. The short-term effects are very similar to what one might experience while drinking alcohol.

Steroids

Steroid Drugs

When most people think of steroids, they think of them as drugs athletes use to build muscles. The fact is that they can be prescribed to treat many different health conditions. They can be used to treat anemia and men who do not produce enough of their own testosterone may also take them.

The doses that are used to treat medical conditions are as much as 100 times lower than those that are used for performance enhancement. The negative health impact these drugs can have should not be overlooked or downplayed. People who abuse steroids are at risk for premature heart attacks, strokes and other consequences.

The DEA reports that there are a few different places where people can obtain steroids. Some may get prescriptions from multiple different doctors in order to abuse them. It is also possible to get them illegally after they have been smuggled into the United States. They are most often purchased online.