Around half of the U.S. population has consumed alcohol, making this drug the number one abused substance in America. According to current statistics, 135 million people drink alcohol, and 6.5% of the population admits to heavy drinking. Over long-term, drinking increases a person’s risk of certain health conditions, like liver disease, pancreatitis, and heart disease. A woman who drinks while pregnant could put her child at risk for mental retardation, fetal alcohol syndrome, and impaired vision.
Marijuana is an illicit drug used by approximately 19 million people in the U.S. At present, marijuana is one of the most popular illicit drugs used by high school students. While marijuana contains many carcinogens, the direct link between this drug and cancer is unclear at present.
According to a 2012 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2.4 million individuals used prescription drugs for the first time in 2012. Called opiates, painkillers mimic the effects of certain “feel-good” activities, such as eating or having sex. Since painkillers are often used intravenously, there is an increased risk for hepatitis and HIV among drug users.
Sedatives are central nervous depressants that work much like alcohol. According to SAMHSA, around 2 million users admit to nonmedical use of sedatives.
SAMHSA reports that around 1.5 million people in America used the powerful central nervous stimulant known as cocaine. This potent and addictive drug gives the user a euphoric feeling, which only lasts around 30 minutes. Even in small doses, cocaine can speed up the heart and tighten the blood vessels, putting the user at risk for heart attack and stroke.
Commonly abused stimulant prescription drugs are often prescribed for narcolepsy and ADHD. According to SAMHSA statistics, over 1 million people report the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants.
Commonly abused hallucinogens include PCP, LSD, mescaline, peyote, Ecstasy (MDMA), and psilocybin mushrooms. According to reports, around 1 million people use hallucinogens.
Known as the most addictive substance in the world, and called “the king of narcotics,” heroin use has increased in the last five years. According to reports, the number of users increased from 215,000 in 2002 to almost 700,000 in 2012. Users of heroin are at increased risk for blood-borne infections