Drug Abuse Problems / Questions

Is this your symptom?

  • Known or suspected drug abuse
  • Questions or concerns about drug abuse

Some Basics...

  • The harmful use of drugs for non-medical reasons is drug abuse.
  • Many of the drugs people abuse are illegal. But prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can also be abused.
  • Drug abuse can lead to drug addiction. Drug abuse and addiction can cause health, career, legal, and social problems.
  • People with a drug addiction can be treated. They may need help to do this. Detox followed by 12-step programs can help a person to recover.

Common Illegal Drugs, their 'Street Names' and Routes of Use

  • Cocaine (coke, crack, rock): inject/smoke/snort
  • Heroin (smack, horse, junk): inject/smoke/snort
  • LSD (acid, microdot, blotter): swallow
  • Marijuana (grass, pot, reefer, weed, blunts): smoke/swallow
  • Methamphetamine (crank, crystal, ice, glass, meth): inject/smoke/swallow/snort
  • PCP/phencyclidine (angel dust, embalming fluid, rocket fuel): inject/swallow/smoke

Types of Drugs

  • Anabolic Steroids: Some people use these drugs to increase their strength or muscle size. People may take these drugs to help their performance in sports. However, steroids have bad side effects. Steroids can cause strange behavior, delusions or anger. They can also cause heart and liver damage.
  • Club Drugs: These drugs are often used at night clubs or parties. They act like a stimulant. A well-known example is Ecstasy (MDMA). Users feel a sense of great self-confidence and energy. The drugs can allow users to dance for hours. This can lead to severe dehydration and over-heating. After using these drugs people can feel anxious and depressed.
  • Dextromethorphan (DM): DM is found in OTC cough medicines. It can cause hallucinations. This is when a user sees or hears things that are not really there. It can make a person feel confused, agitated, and excited. Abuse can lead to coma and death.
  • Hallucinogens (LSD, mescaline): These drugs can make a person see or hear things that are not really there. They can cause strange visions and changes in perception.
  • Inhalants: Fumes of some household products are inhaled because of their mind changing effects. Users may feel giddy or happy. These fumes can alter the user's normal heartbeat. The heart can speed up or get out of rhythm. This can cause heart damage, or even sudden death. Inhalants include glue, gas, butane, White-Out, and air fresheners.
  • Marijuana (Cannabis): This is the most widely used illegal drug. It is much stronger than it was in the 1960s/1970s. It causes users to feel happy. In higher doses it can cause paranoia and delusions. A user can hear or see things that are not really there.
  • Narcotics: Another name for this class of drugs is opiates. They are addictive. Examples include heroin, morphine, codeine, pentazocine, and methadone. Narcotics can make a person feel calm and "high". Overdose can cause breathing to slow or stop. This will cause coma or death. A person will not die from opiate withdrawal. However, it is very unpleasant. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle cramps.
  • Sedative-Hypnotics: These drugs are used by doctors to treat anxiety and stress. They are also used to help people sleep. Two examples of these drugs are Ativan (lorazepam) and Valium (diazepam). Overuse of these drugs can lead to addiction. Overdose can cause coma.
  • Stimulants: These drugs include amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine and crack cocaine. Some stimulants are called "uppers" because they can make a person feel excited and "high". These drugs can also cause hyper-activity, paranoia, and anxiety. They are addictive. Abuse can lead to stroke and heart damage. It can cause coma and death.

When to Call for Drug Abuse Problems / Questions

Call 911 Now

  • Unconscious (not moving, not talking, or not responding to stimulation)
  • Trouble waking up or acting very confused
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • Seizure occurred
  • Slow, shallow, and weak breathing
  • Attempted suicide
  • Feeling like harming yourself or killing yourself
  • Acting violently
  • You think you have a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • You feel weak or very sick
  • You think you need to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You want to talk with a substance abuse counselor or mental health worker
  • Pregnant
  • You think you need to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Drug use keeps you from working or going to school
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Questions about drug problems

Care Advice

Drug Abuse Hotlines

  1. What You Should Know:
    • People with a drug addiction can be treated. They may need help to do this. Detox followed by 12-step programs can help a person to recover.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. United States - CSAT National Helpline:
    • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)
    • The CSAT Helpline is a great resource for finding drug and alcohol treatment programs.
    • National toll-free phone number: 800-662-HELP
  3. United States - Alcohol and Drug Helpline:
    • National toll-free number - 800-821-4357. You can call 24 hours a day.
    • Helps you find self-help groups for alcohol and drug use.
  4. Canada - Hotlines and Helplines:

Internet Resources

  1. Narcotics Anonymous:
    • This group is open to any drug addict. It does not matter what drugs you have used. Chapters are found all around the United States and the world. Each chapter has a phone number.
    • http://www.na.org/
  2. SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information:
  3. Information on Drugs From the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
  4. Information on Drugs From the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
  5. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have questions about drug problems
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Last Reviewed: 12/16/2017 1:00:27 AM
Last Updated: 5/7/2017 1:36:02 PM

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