A drug is a chemical substance that can change how your body and mind work. Drugs of abuse are substances that people use to get high and change how they feel. They may be illegal drugs like pot, cocaine, or heroin. Or they may be legal for adults only, like alcohol and tobacco.
Medicines that treat illness can also become drugs of abuse when people take them to get high—not because they're sick and following their doctor's orders. People can even abuse cough or cold medicines from the store if they ignore the directions and take too much at one time.
People abuse drugs for many reasons:
They want to feel good. Taking a drug can feel really good for a short time. That's why people keep taking them—to have those good feelings again and again. But even though someone may take more and more of a drug, the good feelings don't last. Soon the person is taking the drug just to keep from feeling bad.
They want to stop feeling bad. Some people who feel very worried, afraid, or sad abuse drugs to try to stop feeling so awful. This doesn't really help their problems and can lead to addiction, which can make them feel much worse.
They want to do well in school or at work. Some people who want to get good grades, get a better job, or earn more money might think drugs will give them more energy, keep them awake, or make them think faster. But it usually doesn't work, may put their health at risk, and may lead to addiction.
The commonly abused drugs have their own page. Addiction and reliable information is kept updated at the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
New drugs, trends and lesser used drugs:
Ecstasy (street names are X, E, XTC) is a pill that is often taken at parties and clubs. It is sometimes called the "love drug" because it makes people feel very friendly and touchy. It also raises body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and can make you feel sad for days after its effects wear off.
K2 or Spice (also know as fake weed, Skunk) is a drug made from shredded dried plant materials and chemicals. It is usually smoked. The "high" feels about the same as the "high" from marijuana. Spice users sometimes end up in the emergency room with rapid heart rates, vomiting and other uncomfortable side effects. K2/Spice is illegal.
LSD (commonly known as acid) comes in pills or on small pieces of paper that have been soaked in liquid LSD. It makes you see, hear, and feel things that aren't there. You might see bright colors, pretty pictures, or things that scare you.
PCP (street name is angel dust) is a pill or powder that can be eaten, smoked, or snorted up the nose. It makes people feel far away from the world around them. PCP often makes people feel angry and violent, not happy and dreamy.
Inhalants are dangerous chemicals that make you feel high when you breathe them into your lungs (also called huffing or sniffing). These chemicals are found in household cleaners, spray cans, glue, and even permanent markers. Inhalants can make you pass out, stop your heart and your breathing, and kill you.
Some drugs are called "club drugs" because they are sometimes passed around at nightclubs and parties.
GHB is a liquid or powder that can make you pass out. It's called a "date rape" drug because someone can secretly put it in your drink. This means that you can't fight back or defend yourself. Then they will have sex with you without your permission. Rohypnol (roofies) is a date rape pill and can also be put in a drink. Ketamine (many times young people call this K or Special K) makes you feel far away from what's going on around you and can feel scary and unpleasant. It is usually taken by mouth, snorted up the nose, or injected with a needle.
Bath Salts are drugs made with chemicals like the "upper" found in the Khat plant. They are only sold with the name "Bath Salts" to make them look harmless. These drugs can make you "high" but they can also make you shaky, afraid, and violent. They look like a white or brown shiny powder and are sold in small packages labeled "not for human consumption." They can be taken by mouth, by inhaling into the lungs, or with a needle. Some people end up in the emergency room or even die after taking bath salts.
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