Individuals may abuse almost any substance whose ingestion can result in a euphoric (“high”) feeling. While many are aware of the abuse of legal substances like alcohol or illegal drugs like marijuana (in most states) and cocaine, less well-known is the fact that inhalants like household cleaners and over-the-counter medications like cold medicines are some of the most commonly abused substances. The following are many of the drugs and types of drugs that people commonly abuse and/or result in dependence:
- Alcohol: Although legal, alcohol is a toxic substance, especially for a developing fetus when a mother consumes this drug during pregnancy. One of the most common addictions, alcoholism can have devastating effects on the alcoholic individual’s physical well-being, as well as his or her ability to function interpersonally and at work.
- Amphetamines: This group of drugs comes in many forms, from prescription medications like methylphenidate (for example, Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin) and dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall) to illegally manufactured drugs like methamphetamine (“crystal meth”). Overdose of any of these substances can result in seizure and death.
- Anabolic steroids: A group of substances that is most often abused by bodybuilders and other athletes, this group of drugs can lead to devastating emotional symptoms like aggression and paranoia, as well as severe long-term physical effects like infertility and organ failure.
- Caffeine: While many people consume coffee, tea, and soda, when consumed in excess, this substance can be habit-forming and produce palpitations, insomnia, tremors, irritability, and significant anxiety.
- Cannabis: More usually called marijuana, the scientific name for cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug, with nearly 14 million people 12 years or older reporting having used this drug in the past year. In addition to the negative effects the drug itself can produce (for example, infertility, difficulties with sexual performance, paranoia, lack of motivation), the fact that it is commonly mixed (cut) with other substances so drug dealers can make more money selling the diluted substance or expose the user to more addictive drugs exposes the marijuana user to the dangers associated with those added substances. People commonly cut marijuana with ingredients that include baby powder, oregano, embalming fluid, phencyclidine (PCP), opiates, and cocaine.
- Cathinones (bath salts): Chemically unrelated to bath salts that people use to bathe, cathinones are chemically similar to stimulant drugs, like amphetamines, cocaine, and Ecstasy (MDMA). In addition to bath salts, other street names for cathinones include “plant food,” “jewelry cleaner,” or “phone screen cleaner.”
- Cocaine: A drug that tends to stimulate the nervous system, people can snort cocaine in powder form, smoke it when in the form of rocks (“crack” cocaine), or inject it when made into a liquid.
- Ecstasy: Also called MDMA to denote its chemical composition (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), this drug tends to create a sense of euphoria and an expansive love or desire to nurture others. In overdose, it can increase body temperature to the point of causing death.
- Hallucinogens: Examples include LSD and mescaline, as well as so-called naturally occurring hallucinogens like certain mushrooms. These drugs can be dangerous in their ability to alter the perceptions of the user. For example, a person who is intoxicated (“high” on) with a hallucinogen may perceive danger where there is none and to think that situations that are truly dangerous are not. Those misperceptions can result in dangerous behaviors (like jumping out of a window because the person thinks they have wings and can fly).
- Inhalants: One of the most commonly abused group of substances due to its easy accessibility, inhalants are usually in household cleaners, like ammonia, bleach, and other substances that emit fumes. Brain damage, to the point of death, can result from using an inhalant even just once or over the course of time, depending on the individual.
- Nicotine: The addictive substance found in cigarettes, nicotine is actually one of the most addictive substances that exists. In fact, people often compare nicotine addiction to the intense addictiveness associated with opiates like heroin.
- Opiates: People also call this group narcotics or opioids and includes drugs like heroin, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, and Percodan. This group of substances sharply decrease the functioning of the nervous system. The lethality of opioids is often the result of the abuser having to use increasingly higher amounts to achieve the same level of intoxication, ultimately to the point that the dose needed to get high is the same as the dose that is lethal by overdose for that individual by halting the person’s breathing (respiratory arrest).
- Phencyclidine: Commonly called PCP, this drug can cause the user to feel highly suspicious, become very aggressive, and to have an exceptional amount of physical strength. This can make the person quite dangerous to others.
- Sedative, hypnotic, or antianxiety drugs: The second most commonly used group of illicit drugs, these substances quiet or depress the nervous system. They can therefore cause death by stopping the breathing (respiratory arrest) of the individual who either uses these drugs in overdose or who mixes one or more of these drugs with another nervous system depressant (like alcohol, another sedative drug, or an opiate).
Credited to: WebMD