Top 10 most abused drugs

Recent statistics show that there has been a slight shift in the top 10 most commonly abused drugs. The most noteworthy is marijuana, moving from 3rd place to 2nd place recently. Most speculate this is due on part to the legalization of recreational marijuana in many parts of the country.

1-Alcohol: The CDAC notes that, “with over half (51.8%) of U.S. population identified as drinkers, alcohol is the #1 most abused substance. Nearly a quarter of the population participates in binge drinking (58.6 million), and 6.7% of the population reported heavy drinking (16.9 million). As a depressant, alcohol produces impaired coordination and judgment, slurred speech, and blackouts.”

2- Marijuana: Marijuana is the #1 most abused illicit drug and the third most abused drug according to the CDAC. The CDAC reports that, “the dried parts of the Cannabis plant can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination and problems with learning and memory.”

3- Tobacco: At least one quarter of Americans (6.9 million) are users of a tobacco product making it the second most abused drug. Many individuals are drawn to smoking because it stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain and turn on the body’s natural chemicals that produce euphoria. Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, causing long-term systemic effects. These risks include high blood pressure and smoking has been proven to increase the risk of cancer.

4-Prescription painkillers: The abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise and has moved up in ranking to be the fourth most abused type of drug. Painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, are the most abused prescription drugs. These drugs can produce effects similar to heroin. Painkillers can have negative effects on the physical body causing heightened sensitivity to sound and light, hallucinations, blackouts and problems with the lungs, central nervous system, stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys, heart and death from overdose.

5-Cocaine: Although cocaine gained popularity back in the 1980’s, it still remains on the top 10 list of most abused drugs: listed as the fifth most abused. According to the CDAC, nearly 1.5 million people in America are current users of this white powder. Cocaine use results in severe psychological dependence and intense drug cravings. This is due to cocaine’s short-lived yet powerful effects of euphoria. With cocaine, tolerance builds quickly, making it more dangerous.

6- Prescription Sedatives: The most common sedatives are benzodiazepines and tranquilizers. Approximately 2.4 million people in the U.S. are using sedatives for non-medical purposes. These are highly addictive and can cause memory loss, poor motor coordination, paranoia, stupor, suicidal thoughts, aggression, respiratory depression and coma. Mixing sedatives with alcohol is very dangerous and can cause death.

7- Prescription Stimulants: Prescription stimulant drugs have a high addictive rate and about 1.2 million Americans are currently taking prescription stimulants for non-medical purposes. These stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall, are usually prescribed for people who have narcolepsy or ADHD. These drugs increase the level of dopamine in the brain causing feelings of euphoria. Abuse of stimulants can cause heart attacks, strokes, depression, malnutrition, hostility and paranoia. Because stimulants increase energy and focus, teenagers are abusing the drug because they believe it will enhance their learning and test scores. The abuse of these drugs has increased significantly on college campuses across the country.

8- Hallucinogens (LSD, ecstasy): Approximately 1.1 million people are currently taking hallucinogens in the U.S. Hallucinogenic drugs are known as PCP, mescaline, Ecstasy, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. These drugs cause hallucinations and profoundly affect the perception of reality. Some negative effects of using hallucinogenic drugs are delusions, paranoia, panic, terror, despair, psychosis, and psychological illness. Flashbacks from some of these drugs may occur at anytime after using the drug. LSD is reported to be the most popular hallucinogen among users. LSD, also known as “acid,” is the most potent hallucinogen in the world. It is often sold on blotting paper, or “window panes.” The effects of LSD are unpredictable, altering the user’s mood, personality, and sensations of reality. (CDAC, 2012).

9- Heroin: Heroin is known as the most powerful and addictive drug in the world and its use is increasing in the U.S. Heroin induces euphoria by binding to the opioid receptors that control consciousness, breathing and blood pressure. Long-term effects of using heroin include collapsed veins, partial paralysis, memory loss, intellectual impairment, and disease of the heart, liver and kidneys. Heroin is often diluted with other substances creating a high risk of physical complications and death. It is made from poppy plants and is a highly addictive opiate. It can be injected, smoked, or sniffed and creates a feeling of a euphoric rush. Users feel an increased ability to communicate easily with others, and report heightened sexual performance.

10-Methamphetamine: The tenth most abused drug is methamphetamine, also known as meth, crank, or speed. Although last on the list, it shouldn’t be ignored. Meth is popular among young adults. Meth produces feelings of well-being and energy which can last from 4 to 16 hours. Because of its lasting effects, it is a popular drug for both parties and nightclubs. Meth is highly addictive, and burns up the body’s resources and can cause permanent damage to the brain and body.


alcoholandPromAlcohol and Prom Night

As prom season begins, many parents start to worry about the safety of their children on this special, coming-of-age evening. Most kids attend the prom but end up leaving the dance at some point to head to another gathering with their date. The prom doesn’t end with the dance at the school, as it did years ago. And many of the after prom parties involve alcohol.

If you ask teens, over 90% of them will tell you that their friends will drink and drive on prom night. Research shows that of this 90%, over 50% of these teens will have had four or more drinks on prom night. In fact, drinking and driving on prom night has been shown to contribute to the over 5,000 teens each year that die from underage drinking.

Alternatively, there are other options besides drinking alcohol on prom night. In fact, there are lots of schools that sponsor their own “after party” – hoping to lure teens away form parties where there is alcohol. Some schools have a booth set up the week of prom where students can pledge to stay sober and stay away from alcohol for the duration of prom week.

Most importantly, parents play a huge role in helping their kids stay away from alcohol on prom night. Knowing where your teen is headed, who they are with, expecting them to check in and be home at certain times, and being involved with the dance in any way can lessen the likelihood of the combination of alcohol and prom night.



Depade is a new prescription medication used to treat alcohol and opiate addictions. Depade works by blocking the pleasing effects that alcohol and opioid drugs produce and tackles cravings for these substances by helping take one’s mind off drinking/drugs and focus on recovery instead.

More specifically, Depade is most often used as a part of a holistic addiction treatment program that generally includes counseling meetings, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, educational sessions, medical and family support, and other types of treatment a recovering addict may need. As mentioned previously, Depade works by blocking the chemical responses that make alcohol and opioid drugs rewarding. Depade cannot get individuals high.

Many individuals are concerned about the addictiveness of Depade. However, the good news is that Depade has been shown to be a non-addictive medication with no risk of cross-addiction. But, it is important to recognize that although Depade helps alcoholics and opiad users in long-term recovery stay substance free, it is not simply a pill that will cure addiction. Depade is best used as a part of a thorough addiction treatment program that includes other practices such as psychotherapy and behavioral therapy.

Physicians counsel that not everyone should start on Depade immediately. It must be shown that patients recovering from alcohol addictions have been successful in abstaining for 307 days before taking the drug. Also, Depade is intended for the treatment of opioid dependent patients who have stopped using illicit or prescription opioid drugs for 10-14 days.

Source: addictionblog.org


Close-up portrait of a masculine guyAppearances and Drugs and Alcohol

Although many people believe that taking drugs and/or drinking alcohol will only have an impact on the inside of their body, these substances greatly affect one’s outward appearance as well. Alcohol and drugs most certainly affect internal organs, but drinking excessively or taking drugs too often or in higher quantities can take a toll on one’s skin, teeth, hair, and weight.

First off, alcohol is filled with calories. In fact, just one can of beer or one glass of wine is equivalent to eating a buttered dinner roll. Interestingly, studies show that having too much to drink can lead to an increase in caloric intake. Surveys show that binge drinking caused people to eat about 6,000 extra calories. Everyone has heard the expression “beer belly” and it comes from eating and drinking all of these extra calories. Further, alcohol can affect your outward appearance in that it can cause broken capillaries in one’s eyes due to dilating blood vessels, and dry skin from dehydration. The effects on appearance of dehydration from alcohol intake don’t stop there: dehydration from alcohol can leave you with brittle hair and nails and cause premature aging to your skin.

Another substance that causes weight gain is marijuana since it makes people feel hungry. When individuals feel hunger, they tend to eat, and even overeat when they would not be feeling hungry if they had not ingested marijuana. Alternatively, heroin suppresses one’s appetite, leading, in some cases, to grossly extreme weight loss. Also, heroin can cause visible track marks, sores, acne, premature aging, and blue skin and nails due to low blood pressure from taking the drug.

Similar to heroin, cocaine can also leave visible sores. In fact, symptoms such as a sunken face or a collapsed nose from snorting the drug show that cocaine is a substance that can have a very drastic impact on one’s appearance.

Last, but definitely not least, is meth. Meth ravages one’s appearance in many ways. It can cause weight loss, tooth decay, sores and premature aging.

Drugs and alcohol never leave the user feeling better or more beautiful than before, which is another reason to avoid them all together.


College and Alcohol AbuseCollege and Alcohol Abuse

It’s that time of year again: fall leaves, football games, sweaters, and, for some, college.  Many parents feel concerned about sending their kids to college and wonder if their kids will be wise when it comes to alcohol.  Parents of college freshman (or college students younger than 21) wonder how and why alcohol seems to be available to their kids (since it’s been reported that as many as 80 percent of college students admit to drinking alcohol during their time in school).

Below are 4 main points to consider:

  1. Older students buy alcohol for younger students : Individuals of all ages interact during college
  2. Kids will be kids – even if they are college kids!  Colleges have rules about underage drinking but whether or not students choose to obey those rules is up to them.
  3. Parties and events: ID is generally not required to obtain alcohol when attending a party or event during college.
  4. Stealing alcohol: College students have been known to do crazy things and theft is definitely one of them.  Sometimes young college students steal alcohol to drink before they are 21.


Having open, honest, discussions with your child as they grow up and as they leave for college in relation to alcohol use will help facilitate responsible attitudes and behaviors for your college student.


The Path of Alcoholism

Most people don’t begin drinking with the intent to end up being an alcoholic struggling against a painful strong addiction.  Most people begin with just a sip here, a drink there.  So, some may wonder, “how does an individual go from casual drinking to alcoholism?”

Recent studies have shown that there are some specific factors that may contribute to a teen’s beliefs about alcohol use in their early teenage years. For example, some factors that can influence a teen’s attitude towards alcohol use and/or abuse may include:

  • Alcohol related attitudes and actions of parents and other family members
  • Alcohol related attitudes and actions of other adults encountered outside the family unit
  • The attitudes toward alcohol use held by a teen’s peer group
  • The actual level of alcohol intake happening in a teen’s peer group
  • The amount of exposure to pro-alcohol and/or anti-alcohol messages through various forms of media

Many kids who head down the path toward alcoholism are influenced by their peers and begin to experiment with alcohol.  This experimentation often leads to initial positive effects, which may be followed by negative long-term addictions. Regardless of how alcoholism originates, it is a very serious and dangerous disease that knows no boundaries and can cause many problems in any individual’s life.

AlcoholismFacts about Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism continues to be a problem for many and recent statistics from www.cdc.gov (centers for disease control and prevention) from 2013 definitely concur.  They indicate that in 2013 the “percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current regular drinkers (at least 12 drinks in the past year) was 51.3%.  And, the percent of adults 18 years of age and over who were current infrequent drinkers (1-11 drinks in the past year) was 12.9%.  They go on to say that, “while most people are safe and responsible drinkers, statistics show that the minority who consume excess quantities on a regular basis have an impact that “ripples outward to encompass their families, friends, and communities,” citing the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). That is to say, that while the above 2013 statistics may not be shocking, they do show that many individuals consume alcohol often and this consumption does filter down to other groups who abuse alcohol.

Some interesting facts listed in accordance with high rates and statistics concerning alcohol abuse (as reported by learn-about-alcoholism.com ) indicate the following:

  • More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year. Direct and indirect causes of death include drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, falls, cancer, and stroke.
  • 48 percent of persons aged 12 and over in the U.S. are drinkers This translates to an estimated 109 million people.
  • Nearly 18 million Americans (8.5 percent of adults_ meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism. For diagnostic criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMV-IV), click here.
  • Alcohol abuse and dependence is more common among males than females and decrease with aging.
  • The progression of alcoholism appears to be faster in women than in men.
  • More than one-half of American adults have a close family member who has or has had alcoholism.
  • Approximately one in four children in the U.S. under 18 years old is exposed to alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence in the family.
  • Alcohol is the top drug of choice for children and adolescents.
  • Each day, 7000 children in the U.S. under the age of 16 take their first drink.
  • Children of alcoholics are significantly more likely to initiate drinking during adolescence and to develop alcohol use disorders.
  • Approximately 20 percent of persons aged 12 or older participated in binge drinking at least once in the 30 days prior. Binge” drinking means having five or more drinks on one occasion.
  • The highest prevalence of binge and heavy drinking was for young adults aged 18 to 25, with the peak rate occurring at age 21.
  • More than 35 percent of adults with an alcohol problem developed symptoms such as binge drinking by age 19.
  • Alcohol–related crashes (i.e., those in which a driver or pedestrian had a blood alcohol concentration greater than zero) account for 41 percent of all fatal car accidents.
  • Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes.
  • The economic costs of alcohol abuse in the U.S. are estimated to be approximately $185 billion annually.

Each one of these points about alcohol is concerning, however, those facts dealing with children and adolescents are even more noteworthy as a new generation is brought into contact with this addiction and these abusive cycles.

holidaysAlcohol and the Holidays

Problems can often arise during the holidays due to alcohol consumption.  At what point does moderate “holiday gathering” drinking become “problem” drinking? One unfortunate consequence of the holidays is a large increase in alcohol-related accidents and deaths. Many partygoers don’t drink very often, leaving them with low alcohol tolerance and more vulnerability to alcohol‘s effects.  However, at the other extreme, there are “problem” drinkers who find plenty of social occasions to drink and may feel less inhibited at parties where alcohol is being liberally served.

Each individual tolerates alcohol differently and metabolizes alcohol differently according to the size and weight among other factors.  According to federal standards, “moderate drinking is defined as one drink a day for a woman and two for a man. A drink is defined as 1.5 ounces distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. Any more than this level on a daily basis is considered to be heavy drinking.” (www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu)

For most individuals, these standards make sense.  Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, first causing disinhibition, then acting as a depressant. A hangover from the night before indicates that the body is withdrawing from alcohol. While moderate drinking has been shown to have some health benefits, drinking more than one to two drinks a day can lead to major health problems, most notably liver damage and heart disease.

If you know you have an alcohol problem and are planning on attending a holiday party where alcohol will be present, prepare yourself mentally before the party. Decide ahead how much alcohol you will drink, then tell a friend or relative to help you stick to your plan. Don’t believe that abstaining from alcohol for a few days before a holiday party entitles you to extra drinking while at the party.

If you’re a guest at the holiday party, don’t bring a bottle of alcohol as a gift to the host. Instead, consider bringing an assortment of teas, hot chocolate, cider and coffee mixes so you know that a variety of non-alcoholic drinks will be easily available.

Further, many parents forget their responsibilities in relation to alcohol consumption during the holidays.  For parents, the holiday season offers an excellent opportunity to model appropriate alcohol-related behavior. Children are great observers of adult behavior and will be more influenced by their actions more than their words. Don’t give the message to children that alcohol must be present for good times to abound. Give your children safe and happy holiday memories by being responsible about alcohol consumption during the holidays.

Reference: www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

BipolarBipolar and Alcohol

A recent article in Psychology Today written by Russ Federman shows that when individuals with bipolar disorder drink large amounts of alcohol or abuse drugs, the results are most often negative. The explanation of why alcohol and drugs don’t mix well with bipolar disorder isn’t simple.

To begin with, individuals with bipolar disorder struggle with mental stability.  Obviously, alcohol does not enable stability, so problems arise when the two are mixed.  Following the experience that alcohol provides, individuals who have bipolar may experience increased mood swings or instability.  Also, people with bipolar disorder often struggle with long bouts of depression following alcohol abuse.  These “low” mood cycles can be hard for them to recover from.  Generally, people with the addictive behaviors, which bipolar individuals commonly struggle with, tend to over indulge when drinking alcohol because the anticipation of feeling low is not apparent for the individual at the time that he or she desires the high. However, the feelings of being hung over and depressed are magnified with bipolar disorder.

But, when individuals are pleasure seeking or perhaps just trying to get rid of uncomfortable feelings, the thought processes leading to their choices aren’t necessarily rational or balanced. In fact, for those with bipolar disorder who struggle with mood instability, the use of drugs and alcohol only adds to the ups and downs. It absolutely doesn’t smooth them out.

When the seductive and dangerous element of disinhibition is taken into account, particularly in relation to alcohol and bipolar, the effects can be dangerous. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and that is partly why it feels so good. Individuals who may be insecure or shy get to be more outgoing and confident. Individuals who generally are uptight get to let loose and be stupid. People who are chronically anxious and fearful get to relax. The problem with this is that individuals with bipolar disorder intermittently become hypomanic or manic: it’s what defines the diagnosis. Russ Federman (2010) states that, “in these elevated mood states, bipolar individuals almost always experience some degree of impaired impulse control. During the elevated mood phase they’re usually feeling up, energized, gregarious and cognitively accelerated. The problem is that once their mood extends above the mildly elevated range, they often lose the capacity to modulate or turn down their mood-related intensity. It’s like the wheels of hypomania become lubricated and they keep picking up speed.”

So, in sum, red flags are flying when alcohol-related disinhibition and individuals with bipolar are mixed. Because of the increase in feelings and emotions, bipolar individuals have to master control over their desire for more– which is difficult in most cases.  Most bipolar individuals struggle with even having just a single glass of alcohol because it usually leads to more – and that’s what gets them in trouble. Again, to quote Federman (2010), “If you want to live well with bipolar disorder, then drugs and alcohol don’t factor into the equation.”

AddictionsJ. A. Ewing devised an exceptionally simple questionnaire in the 1980’s to test for alcohol addiction. The results of this simple, easy test are profoundly accurate. It consists of four straightforward questions one may ask if they are questioning an alcohol addiction:

  • Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?
  • Have you ever been Annoyed when people have commented on your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt Guilty or badly about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had an Eye opener first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

That’s it! Scoring is fairly simple as well:

Score one point for each yes answer

  • If you scored 1, there is an 80% chance you’re addicted to alcohol.
  • If you scored 2, there is an 89% chance you’re addicted to alcohol.
  • If you scored 3, there is a 99% chance you’re addicted to alcohol.
  • If you scored 4, there is a 100% chance you’re addicted to alcohol.

Interestingly, the C.A.G.E. test developed by Ewing can be applied to other addictions as well.

Below is an adaption for any drug addiction:

  • Have you ever felt you should Cut down your use of drugs?
  • Have you ever been Annoyed when people have commented on your use?
  • Have you ever felt Guilty or badly about your use?
  • Have you ever used drugs to Ease withdrawal symptoms, or to avoid feeling low after using?

And further, here is an adaption even for an addiction of Internet use:

  • Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your use of the Internet?
  • Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your use of the Internet?
  • Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about being on the Internet?
  • Have you ever been on the Internet first thing in the morning as an Eye opener to get yourself started on the day?

The C.A.G.E. test has proven to be an effective tool in determining addictions of every sort.

J.A. Ewing, Detecting Alcoholism, “The Cage Questionnaire”, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 252:1905-07. 1984.

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