Which Drugs Are Most Commonly Used?
Questions might arise in substance abuse treatment regarding which drugs are most commonly used and what affect they have on the body. There are many drugs, legal and illegal, that individuals can use and abuse today. A drug can be defined as any substance other than food that causes changes in how the body functions. With this description, it is easy to see the number of drugs that can be included here including nicotine, caffeine, and many over-the-counter drugs. There are pain relievers such as Tylenol or aspirin, drugs such as Tums or Rolaids that are used for gastrointestinal problems, and cold medicines such as Ny-Quil or Day-Quil. The above are legal substances; however, some cold medicines are now kept under lock and key at local pharmacies as they are used to make illegal substances such as methamphetamines.
Other drugs are prescribed by medical professionals such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and pain meds; however, these drugs are not available without a prescription. Other drugs such as heroin, LSD, methamphetamines, and cocaine are considered illegal substances and not prescribed by medical professionals. Alcohol is one of the most widely used and abused substance and it is legal.
It is interesting that many believe there is no logical basis for deciding how to think about legal and illegal drugs. Some argue that illegal drugs are the most dangerous and most abused substances; however, this might not be the case. Alcohol and nicotine are the two most abused substances, causing the most harm to us physically, yet they are both legal.
The truth is any drug, legal or illegal, can cause significant harm if taken incorrectly. A bottle of aspirin can cause death and too much caffeine can cause insomnia or heart palpitations.
Drugs are generally categorized into five categories including stimulants, depressants, marijuana, hallucinogens, and narcotics. Depressants include those medications that slow down the central nervous system and reduce pain and anxiety. Alcohol is considered a depressant.
- Hallucinogens are mind-altering drugs which cause hallucinations or delusions. The effects of hallucinogens have been noted as “a wonderful experience” or “disturbing” by some users. Not all hallucinogens are illegal as some cough medicines have hallucinogenic properties.
- Marijuana is the most popular drug in the United States and many states have legalized its use for medicinal purposes.
- Narcotics also slow down the central nervous system and relieve pain. Depending on how the narcotic is produced, these can be either legal or illegal substances. Narcotics are one of the most widely abused substances.
- Stimulants speed up the central nervous system and can produce anxiety and euphoria and increase energy and focus. Some stimulants are legal and others are not. Stimulants can be very physically addictive.