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Commonly abused drugs and their effects

Commonly abused drugs and their effects

12-23 | CDAH Team

The easy availability of various drugs, including prescription drugs, and the increasing trend of misusing and abusing such drugs are causing devastating effects in the United States. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of deaths from opioid overdose between 2001 to 2014 increased by 2.8 times.

Most drugs that are abused can alter the chemical composition of the brain and weaken the immune system, rendering the body defenseless against infections and diseases. They can significantly decrease the cognitive function and impair judgment. It alienates the users from their personal and professional responsibilities.


People abuse a variety of drugs to get high. Some of the commonly abused drugs are:

Cocaine: It is a potent and an addictive stimulant extracted from the coca leaves found in South America. The purified chemical called cocaine hydrochloride was used in the 1900s as an ingredient in many medications to treat a wide range of illnesses and it was also an ingredient of Coca-Cola at one point.

People mainly abuse two chemical forms of cocaine – the water-soluble hydrochloride salt and the water-insoluble cocaine base. Users inject it into their bloodstream or snort the hydrochloride salt. The street name of crack is given to the water-insoluble cocaine base and is usually smoked. It is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and some of the street names of the drug are blow, Charlie, crack, snow, toot, etc.

Heroin: It is a highly addictive opioid-based drug, manufactured from morphine which is a natural substance extracted from the seeds of the poppy plant. It can have devastating effects on the users, exposing them to crime, violence, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, fetal damage, etc.

The use of heroin has been on the rise since 2007. It is injected into the bloodstream, smoked or snorted. It is a Schedule I drug, which means that it has no acceptable medical use. Brown sugar, skunk, smack, H, etc. are some of the common street names used for heroin.

MDMA: Popularly termed as a club drug, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is widely abused by millions of Americans. One of the myths regarding MDMA or Molly is that it is safer than other drugs. It is categorized as a Schedule I drug and is usually snorted or taken orally. The street names for this drug are adam, eve, uppers, peace, etc.

Methamphetamine: According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 12 million people have at least tried methamphetamine once. Methamphetamine abuse can cause serious psychological, medical and social consequences. It can damage the cardiovascular system, cause malnutrition, evoke psychotic behavior and lead to dental problems. This type of abuse also contributes to the transmission of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. It is a Schedule II drug and is commonly swallowed or taken in the liquid form through injection.

Prescription opioids: According to the CDC, today at least half of all opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. involve a prescription opioid. The problem of prescription drug overdose has snowballed into a huge menace today. The CDC also says that opioid misuse is more common among the white population, especially in the case of white women in the age group of 45-54 years. Opioid use causes a sense of euphoria which forces many users to misuse and abuse them.

Road to recovery from addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, it is imperative to seek immediate professional help. Contact the Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline to know about various addiction treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-218-7546 or chat online with our treatment advisors to learn more about drug addiction treatment clinic in Colorado.

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