Did You Know?
After alcohol, marijuana has the highest rate of dependence or abuse among all drugs?
In the most recently published National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported:
In 2012, 17.7 million Americans (6.8 percent of the population) were dependent on alcohol or had problems related to their use of alcohol (abuse). In 2012, 4.3 million Americans 12 years and older met clinical criteria for dependence or abuse of marijuana in the past year—more than twice the number for dependence/abuse of prescription pain relievers (2.1 million) and four times the number for dependence/abuse of cocaine (1.1 million).
The reasons alcohol and marijuana (though still illegal in most states) are so much more likely to be misused and abused is because are two-fold:
- Both are easier to access, despite the age limitation for purchasing alcohol and the fact that marijuana is an illegal drug in 47 states
- Both are cheaper to come by. Even in a recession, alcohol, tobacco and drugs are purchased in high numbers because of the low price compared to other “more expensive” habits.
Though alcohol and marijuana are the top 2 most commonly abused drugs, they are not the only type of drug that people abuse or misuse. In addition to these, people also abuse pain relievers, cocaine, depressants, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants. The infographic here highlights the 8 most commonly abused drugs in the United States. Were you aware of these numbers?
Understanding the 8 Most Commonly Abused Drugs
Alcohol consumption can damage the brain and most body organs. Areas of the brain that are especially vulnerable to alcohol-related damage are the cerebral cortex (largely responsible for our higher brain functions, including problem solving and decision making), the hippocampus (important for memory and learning), and the cerebellum (important for movement coordination).
Marijuana is a mixture of the dried and shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug and as medicine. The intoxicating effect of marijuana comes from the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) content found in the drug. Cannabis law firm may assist you with issues related to licensing and regulatory compliance, if needed.
Common street names for marijuana are: “pot,” “grass,” “herb,” “weed,” “Mary Jane,” “reefer,” “skunk,” “boom,” “gangster,” “kif,” “chronic,” and “ganja.”
3. Pain Relievers (other than heroin)
Prescription drugs are the #1 most abused drug in this category. Whether obtained from a friend or family member or prescribed by their own doctor, people often misuse or abuse pain relievers such as morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone to experience euphoria or intense excitement.
4. Cocaine (Stimulants)
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant. Stimulants are a class of drugs that can elevate mood, increase feelings of well-being, and increase energy and alertness, but they also have dangerous effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.
Cocaine may also be called “coke,” “Coca,” “C,“ “snow,” “flake,“ “blow,” “bump,“ “candy,” “Charlie,” “rock,” and “toot.”
5. Depressants (Tranquilizers & Sedatives)
Depressants are usually prescribed to promote sleep or to reduce anxiety. As measured by national surveys, depressants are often categorized as sedatives or tranquilizers. Sedatives primarily include barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbitol) but also comprise sleep medications such as Ambien and Lunesta. Tranquilizers primarily include benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax, but also include muscle relaxants and other anti-anxiety medications.
Heroin is an opioid drug that is made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance taken from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Opioids, also known as opiates, are known for their pain-relieving properties. Only licensed and authorized physicians may prescribe opiates for use to relieve pain.
Street names for heroin: “Smack,” “Junk,” “H,” “Black tar,” “Ska,” and “Horse.”
Hallucinogens are mind or perception-altering drugs that cause a state of euphoria in the brain. LSD and Ecstasy are the most abused drugs in this category. Use of these drugs may cause abusers to see vivid colors and images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Abusers also may have traumatic experiences and emotions that can last for many hours. Some short-term effects can include increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; sweating; loss of appetite; sleeplessness; dry mouth; and tremors.
Inhalants are volatile substances found in many household products, (such as oven cleaners, gasoline, spray paints, and other aerosols,) that induce mind-altering effects. Inhalants are extremely toxic and can damage the heart, kidneys, lungs, and brain.
Commonly abused inhalants include solvents with loud fumes (paint thinner, nail polish remover, degreaser, dry-cleaning fluid, cement glue), aerosol sprays (deodorant spray, hair spray, air fresheners, spray paint), and gases (gasoline, kerosene, anesthesia, ether, chloroform, halothane, and nitrous oxide). For more on the misuse and abuse of inhalants, read: What Is Drug Abuse.