Commonly Abused Drugs

Commonly Abused Drugs

In order to help your teen, it is important to get to know commonly abused drugs. They may be illegal in nature and obtained on the streets. However, it may surprise you to learn that your teen’s addiction to drugs or alcohol actually began in school or even your own home.


Alcohol is a very common and legal (for those of age) drug in our society, that is both enjoyed responsibly and abused by adults. Alcohol can be one of the most harmful drugs around, especially given the extreme ways it may be consumed during alcohol abuse by teens. Almost every teen will have the opportunity to try alcohol, and learning that your teen has tried it once or twice out of curiosity is not necessarily cause for concern if consumption is limited. Though everyone can abuse alcohol, some people have a predisposition to become alcoholics and can develop a profound dependence. If your teen is in danger of becoming an alcoholic, an intervention can save them from a lifetime of health issues and troubled relationships.


Cocaine, especially in its concentrated form commonly known as crack, can be a highly addictive, powerful stimulant. The answer to how long does cocaine stay in your system is that it is very fast-acting, but evidence of its use persists in the body for 2-4 days. Side effects of cocaine include anxiety, a confused state of mind, and an aggressive demeanor. Since cocaine is a nervous system stimulant, it can stress the heart, even leading to heart failure in vulnerable individuals. Cocaine puts the body into overdrive and prevents it from getting the rest it needs to stay healthy.


The United States has seen a significant increase in the use of heroin. Minnesota continues to be a hub for large amounts of heroin and several of our youth are now using it. Heroin is being injected and smoked. For most youth, they start using heroin after they have been using opiate-based painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Tylenol 3, and codeine.


Huffing or inhaling chemicals can also be dangerous. Some common inhalants include, nitrous oxide (commonly known as “whip its.”) Other chemicals, air duster (electronics air cleaners) and household cleaning supplies can be huffed.


New forms of marijuana have been made given the increase in medical marijuana in Colorado and other states. Many forms now come in candy bars, gummy bears, cookies, suckers, and drops. There are also additional forms of marijuana called wax and “shatter” which look like amber-colored glass. Although society has demonstrated a welcoming attitude toward marijuana, it is still a concern for youth, demonstrating memory problems, lower grades, IQ decline, and with prolonged use, lasting psychosis.


Methamphetamine, also known as meth, can have severe effects on a person, both mentally and physically. This can be seen in pictures of users over time. These are often mugshots as meth addiction is so powerful it can drive people to criminal acts to maintain their supply. The side effects of methamphetamine include the potential for addiction together with the terrible toll it takes on the body, meaning any use should be taken seriously. Withdrawal from methamphetamine can be very difficult and may require substantial support.

commonly abused drugs

Pain Killers

Most pain killers come in tablet form, however, some can be received in liquid form. Some of these include cough syrup with codeine. This is sometimes known as “Lean”. Also, some pain medication can be found in patches. Pain pills can also be smoked on tin foil with a straw.

Prescription Drugs

Anti-anxiety drugs (Benzodiazepines): Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan. Some of these drugs are snorted, can also be smoked and are sometimes mixed with alcohol. One of the most dangerous mixes, it will stop/reduce heart rate rapidly. Leading to death.

Other prescription drugs include Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta. Each of these are usually prescribed for attention deficit disorder. Most kids are able to get their hands on these substances by peers at school.

Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic drugs go by various names, including bath salts, K2, gravel, and spice. Due to the constantly evolving nature of synthetic drugs, new names and formulations keep appearing to stay ahead of drug regulations. These chemically-derived drugs can be highly dangerous given their dubious origins and uncertain dosing. Synthetic forms of cannabis, often sprayed on leaves to mimic the real thing, can have very unpredictable and much more harmful effects. All synthetic drugs can potentially lead to severe adverse side effects with just one use.


Commonly Abused Drugs