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The Top Drugs That People Are Getting Addicted To

Educating your family and yourself about the top drugs people abuse could save a life.

The list of the top drugs abused by addicts looks much different today than it did decades ago. While many people obtain their drug of choice from street dealers, some actually raid home medicine cabinets for their fix. Both illegal and prescription drugs are highly addictive substances. What started as a way to get high or dull the pain could turn into a deadly habit. Keep reading to learn more about the most commonly abused drugs.

Illegal (Street) Drugs

Street drugs are dangerous because there’s no way to know the strength or content of each dose. Dealers just want to make a buck, and they don’t care who they hurt along the way. Even worse, they are addictive and often deadly. Here are some of the most commonly abused illegal drugs:

1) Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant. It comes from the leaves of the South American coca plant. However, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe. Dealers often lace cocaine with other harmful substances.

Cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain. Users often report feeling alert, energetic, happy, and focused. But this high is only temporary. Cocaine can also increase heart rate and raise blood pressure. People can overdose after just their first use. Heart attack, stroke, seizure, and death may occur.

2) Heroin

Heroin is a derivative of morphine. Users inject, snort, or smoke the drug. Addicts report a euphoric sensation. This feeling is due to a rush of endorphins in the brain, but the effects are short-lived. It’s highly addictive—many become hooked after their first time.

Overdose is very common with heroin addicts. The drug slows breathing and decreases oxygen in the body. The person may fall into a coma or experience permanent brain damage. Many, however, will succumb to the overdose and die.

3) Methamphetamines

Methamphetamines are a dangerous stimulant. Users may snort, smoke, inject, or ingest the drug. It increases dopamine levels, also known as the “feel-good” hormone. But that doesn’t mean methamphetamines are safe. The drug causes many unwanted side effects, including skin sores and tooth decay. Hallucinations and nervousness are also common.

Methamphetamine abuse often leads to death. Popular street names for methamphetamines are crystal, ice, meth, and speed.

4) MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)

MDMA is a synthetic drug that combines stimulants and hallucinogens. It increases pleasure and distorts reality simultaneously. Many people try MDMA for the first time at social gatherings, like raves. High doses of MDMA may cause liver or kidney damage. Many experts also consider it a gateway drug to more dangerous substances. Its street names are ecstasy and molly.

Prescription Medications

Prescription medications are some of the most addictive drugs on the market. Nearly 18 million Americans misuse prescription medications each year. Doctors may write a prescription to treat a legitimate problem, but some patients become addicted. Once their script runs out, addicts will do anything to obtain these drugs illegally. Curious teenagers may even search their parent’s medicine cabinets to experiment. While these drugs are beneficial when used correctly, they are often deadly when abused.

1) Pain medications (Opioids)

Opioid pain killers release endorphins to confuse pain receptors. Doctors often prescribe them to reduce pain after surgery or traumatic injuries. Unfortunately, opioids are incredibly addictive. Anyone who uses them, even for a short period, is at risk of developing an addiction.

Oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, and morphine are common generic opioids. Brand names include Roxicodone, Norco, OxyContin, Vicodin, Demerol, Morphine, Percocet, and Suboxone.

2) Benzodiazepines

Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines to treat depression, anxiety, and nervousness. They may also help prevent seizures and calm muscle spasms. But when used off-label, benzos are highly addictive. And when used in conjunction with other drugs, benzos may cause respiratory depression. This slows breathing and may cause death.

Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam) are perhaps the most well-known benzodiazepines. Others include Librium, Klonopin, Ativan, Prosom, Tranxene, and Dalmane.

Other Addictive Substances

Some of the most abused drugs are completely legal. Others are only legal in certain jurisdictions or instances. But that doesn’t mean they are without risk. Addiction is prevalent and may affect a person at home or work. These are the most commonly abused:

1) Alcohol

Alcohol is a social drug, but it’s also a depressant. It lessens inhibitions, slows cognition, and reduces the ability to react quickly. That’s why it’s so dangerous to drink and drive. Because alcohol is legal, many don’t realize they have a problem until it’s too late.

Drinking a margarita or two to celebrate a birthday isn’t worrisome. But those who consume alcohol excessively may develop liver damage. Alcoholism is a leading cause of cirrhosis, and alcohol poisoning can be life-threatening.

2) Nicotine

Smoking cigarettes was once the norm. After all, it’s legal in the U.S. for anyone 18 or older. Unfortunately, nicotine, the chemical found in cigarettes, is very addictive, and quitting isn’t easy. Nicotine releases dopamine. This euphoric hormone rush causes people to crave nicotine even more. Even vaping can lead to nicotine addiction. Smoking is an unhealthy habit, and smokers are at a higher risk of developing throat or lung cancer.

3) Marijuana

Marijuana comes from the dried leaves of the cannabis plant. It’s often called weed, pot, hash, reefer, green, Mary Jane, or herb. People once thought only “stoners” smoked marijuana, but the herb also has medicinal value. Doctors prescribe it to treat chronic pain, induce hunger, or calm the mind.

Despite its popularity of being “harmless,” marijuana is highly addictive. Users may experience altered sensations, impaired memory, sleepiness, or extreme hunger. Hallucinations, delusion, and psychosis may occur after taking a high dose.

4) Kratom

Kratom is an herbal plant that people use for recreational or medicinal purposes. It’s legal on the federal level but illegal in several states. The FDA believes this drug is dangerous because it affects the brain similarly to opioids. Furthermore, those who experiment with kratom may become dependent on the herb.

Compassionate Counseling for Drug Addiction

The reasons why people start abusing substances varies from peer pressure to accidental addiction to prescription drugs to getting high to escape the stress of life or bad situations. Whatever the reason, drug addiction affects millions. It puts a strain on relationships, jobs, and finances. Substance abuse is also detrimental to your health. Once you admit you have a problem, it’s not always easy to quit alone. That’s why so many addicts relapse time and time again. Professional counseling is crucial to get your life back on the right track.

New Life 360° believes compassion is the key to overcoming drug addiction. Our therapists are some of the most skilled in the industry. We incorporate a holistic approach alongside traditional treatments to help you learn how to live a sober life. Schedule a consultation with our counseling team if one of these top drugs has affected your life.