Top Ten Most Commonly Abused Drugs

Learn the negative affects of the ten most commonly abused drugs

Because of the high potential of drug abuse and addiction in the U.S. it is important to familiarize our self with the ten most commonly abused drugs. By identifying drugs of abuse, we can become more cautious about using and abusing them. Drugs can be obtained illicitly or by prescription, and below is a list of the ten most popular drugs of abuse in the U.S.:

    1. Cannabis (marijuana) is the most commonly abused drug in the U.S. and is the most popular drug among teenagers. When marijuana abuse begins in the teen years, it may develop into a reduced IQ level in adulthood. The drug can impair short-term memory formation, learning, coordination and concentration. It can also harm the lungs, increase the heart rate and pose as a risk of psychosis in some people. Cannabis shrinks the physical volume of the striatum and thalamus areas of the brain and can result in schizophrenia. Other areas of the brain that are affected by marijuana can cause depression, psychosis and suicidal ideation. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has been conducting much research on the psychoactive compound THC that is found in cannabis, and also the cannabinoid CBD compounds. Some States within the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana to treat specific medical conditions.


    1. Prescription and over-the-counter medications are being abused at an escalating rate, and it is leading to addiction and, in some cases, overdose. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids, depressants and stimulants. Opioids are prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and include Oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl. Prescription drugs include amphetamines, stimulants, and methylphenidate. Depressants are usually tranquilizers, and sedatives that contain barbiturates. Codeine is another popular drug that is abused among the young and cold medications that contain dextromethorphan and pseudoephedrine.


    1. Anabolic-androgenic steroids are a synthetic formulation of the male sex hormone testosterone. These steroids are used to increase muscle mass and improve appearance and athletic performance. Long-term abuse of anabolic steroids can alter brain pathways and impact brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and opioid systems. Mood and behavior can be dramatically impacted, and severe effects of steroid abuse can result in heart and liver disease, infectious diseases, stroke, depression and suicide.


    1. Cocaine is also among the ten most commonly abused drugs in the U.S. It is a short-acting stimulant that can cause severe medical problems of the heart, respiratory system, digestive system and central nervous system. Some of the adverse effects of cocaine include constricted blood vessels, bizarre behavior, violent mood swings, paranoia, panic, anxiety, tremors, seizures, heart attack, stroke, coma and death.


    1. Alcohol consumption is highly abused in the U.S. and may lead to damage of the brain and organs of the body. Some of the adverse effects of alcohol abuse are malnutrition, anemia, cardiovascular disease, dementia, infectious diseases, depression, liver disease, pancreatitis, high blood pressure and nerve damage.


    1. Amphetamines/Methamphetamines are among the most popular drugs that are abused in the U.S. They are potent stimulants that produce feelings of euphoria and awareness, and can produce adverse effects such as brain function impairment, heart problems, psychosis, convulsions, malnutrition, elevated body temperature, rapid speech, increased respiration and blood pressure, depression and seizures.


    1. Bath salts are an emerging category of drugs that are a serious and dangerous public health and safety concern. Bath salts are synthetic chemicals that cause extreme intoxication and dangerous health effects that include agitation, hallucinations, paranoia, delirium, psychosis, violent behavior and death. Some of the active ingredients in bath salts have the same effects as cocaine and amphetamines, and others have hallucinogenic effects.


    1. Hallucinogens are mind-altering drugs that can have a variety of effects on people based on their differing active chemical compounds. They can be unpredictable and dangerous, and produce adverse effects such as an elevated heart rate and blood pressure, increase one’s body temperature and heart-wall stress. Hallucinogens distort the perception of reality in the user, and can cause euphoria, hallucinations, anxiety, panic, blurred vision, loss of coordination, hearing voices, confusion, dizziness, extreme sweating, chills, fever, numbness, paranoia, fear, convulsions and seizures. Deaths can often be attributed to dangerous behavior, accidents or suicide.


    1. Inhalants are one of the most popular drugs of abuse among adolescents. Inhalants include spray paint, lighter fluid, glue, shoe polish, oven cleaners, gasoline and other toxic or volatile substances. These substances are extremely toxic and can cause adverse effects such as intoxication and the loss of hearing, feeling, sight and consciousness. Damage to the central nervous system and brain may or may not be permanent, and death can occur rapidly. Perception may be distorted and breathing can become difficult. Other serious effects include burns to the mouth, nose, larynx, lungs and throat, suffocation, heart failure and carbon monoxide poisoning.


    1. Heroin is another of the ten most popular drugs abused in the U.S. It is a highly addictive opioid drug derived from the poppy plant. Abuse of heroin can cause heart and respiratory depression, malnutrition, sleep problems, muscle and bone pain, a weakened immune system, weight loss, liver or kidney damage and infection of the heart valves. Heroin can adversely affect a person psychologically with anxiety, restlessness, anxiety, delusions, mood swings, hostility and memory loss.


This is a list of the ten most commonly abused drugs in the U.S. including the most commonly abused prescription drugs. If you or a loved one is addicted to one or more of these substances, you can get the help you need to recover at a certified rehabilitation and detox center.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.