Just under 20 million Americans struggled with a substance use disorder from alcohol or illicit drugs in 2017. With numbers so high, the need for comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment is great.
Many forms of drug abuse can lead to mental health problems, serious addiction, and deadly overdose. As substance abuse intensifies, a person’s relationships, schooling, and career can suffer as well. Without the right help, a person may continue to use drugs or alcohol to cope with this devastation.
Addiction is a disease, and, like other diseases, recovery from it requires comprehensive treatment.
The most effective rehab programs for drug and alcohol addiction use an integrated, individualized approach. This means that treatment takes into account each client’s unique history, needs, and personal recovery goals.
With the right combination of treatments and therapies, recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is possible. The best drug and alcohol rehab programs use evidence-based treatments, such as medications or behavioral therapies, to help their clients obtain a more balanced, drug-free life.
Commonly Abused Legal And Illegal Drugs
Abuse of legal and illegal drugs can lead to dependence, addiction, withdrawal, overdose and/or death. The following substances can be abused in a manner that leads to these or other problems.
Even though alcohol is socially acceptable and widely used in many circles, it is still a drug. As a drug, alcohol carries a high potential for abuse, a behavior that can lead to severe addiction.
One of the most common forms of abuse, binge drinking, occurs when a person drinks a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Despite being dangerous and a risk factor for addiction, binge drinking is encouraged in many social settings.
Alcohol use disorders are linked to mental health problems and serious medical conditions such as brain damage, cancer, heart problems, and organ damage. Further, withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous, and, in certain circumstances, life-threatening.
Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced substances that are used to treat hormonal problems in men. When abused, these drugs are misused to alter a person’s physical appearance, build muscle mass or enhance athletic and sexual performance.
Extended abuse can cause mental and physical health problems, including aggression (“roid rage”), extreme mood swings, cardiac complications, organ damage, and severe hormonal problems. People who inject steroids face an increased risk of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B or C.
Barbiturates create a sedative effect that is similar to certain benzodiazepines. Drugs in this class may be used as anesthetics, anticonvulsants, and hypnotics. Barbiturates can be highly addictive when abused. When used this way, they may be referred to as Barbs, Phennies or Red Birds.
To abuse these drugs a person may swallow or inject them. Barbiturates can cause major central nervous system depression when abused, and because of this, their potential for overdose, coma, and death is high.
Commonly abused barbiturates include:
- amobarbital (Amytal)
- butabarbital (Butisol)
- mephobarbital (Mebaral)
- pentobarbital (Nembutal)
- phenobarbital (Luminal)
- secobarbital (Seconal)
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are prescription drugs that are used to treat alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, insomnia, panic disorder and/or seizure disorder. Drugs in this class create a calming and tranquilizing effect which can be appealing to people who abuse them.
In quantities of abuse, benzodiazepines can quickly cause dependence and addiction. While taking benzos, a person may seem like they are intoxicated on alcohol and slur their words or have poor coordination.
Due to their central nervous system depressant effects, abuse of benzodiazepines can cause severe respiratory depression and overdose. This risk is especially high when they’re abused with alcohol or opioids.
The most commonly abused benzodiazepines include:
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- diazepam (Valium)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- temazepam (Restoril)
- triazolam (Halcion)
Though flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) is not available in the US as a prescription, it may be smuggled in for purposes of abuse or use as a date rape drug.
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Hallucinogens And Dissociative Drugs
Abuse of hallucinogens and dissociative drugs creates mind-altering effects that change the way a person thinks, experiences reality or perceives time. While under the influence or “tripping,” a person may see, hear and feel things that are not real.
The bizarre and sometimes dangerous behaviors that occur on these drugs could jeopardize a person’s safety and endanger those around them. Some hallucinogens may cause aggression, feelings of extreme panic, memory loss and psychotic-like episodes.
Commonly abused hallucinogens and dissociative drugs include:
- ketamine (Special K)
- mescaline (peyote)
- psilocybin (mushrooms or shrooms)
The majority of inhalants are legal chemicals or household products that are widely available at a variety of stores. According to the DEA, one out of five youth has abused an inhalant by the time they hit eighth grade. Inhalants may be referred to as poppers, snappers or whippets.
Though inhalants are especially popular with youth and teens, abuse occurs across all ages. Despite being legal, abuse of these substances can be highly dangerous and lead to brain damage, heart failure, severe dementia, and sudden death.
There’s over 1,000 aerosols, gases, nitrites and volatile solvents that can be dangerously abused this way, however, the following are some of the most common:
- amyl nitrite
- butane lighters
- cleaning fluids
- felt-tip, highlighter or permanent markers
- lighter fluids
- nitrous oxide
- paint thinners or removers
- spray paint
- whipped cream canisters
Kratom is a legal and dangerous substance that may be purchased over the internet or at stores. Though this substance is not controlled on a federal level, certain states may prohibit it.
The drug is most commonly consumed as a capsule, extract or pill, however, some individuals may smoke, eat or drink it. Kratom creates feelings that are similar to both stimulant and opioid drugs.
Despite being legal, the use of kratom can lead to dependence, withdrawal, and overdose. Other dangerous side effects may occur, such as breathing problems, liver damage, psychosis, seizures, coma, and death.
Even though marijuana is legal and/or used as a medication in certain states, marijuana use can still lead to addiction and adverse health effects, including cognitive impairments. Marijuana may be smoked, eaten, brewed into a tea or vaporized.
In addition to the plant matter and edibles, a variety of marijuana extracts and concentrates are also abused, including:
- dry sift
- hash oil
- live resin
Prescription Opioid Painkillers
While prescription opioid pain medications, also referred to as opiate (narcotic) analgesics, can be valuable treatments when used as prescribed, these substances can cause dependence, addiction, extreme withdrawal, and overdose when abused.
Though some individuals may misuse these substances to self-medicate pain, many abuse opioid painkillers to create a high or euphoric state.
Some of the most commonly abused opioid painkillers include:
- codeine (Tylenol #3 and #4)
- fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Lazanda)
- hydrocodone ( Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Zohydro ER)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
- meperidine (Demerol)
- methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
- morphine (Duramorph, MS Contin)
- oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan)
- oxymorphone (Opana)
- tramadol (Conzip, Ultracet)
Illicit or illegal opioids create an effect that is similar to the feelings produced when prescription opioid drugs are abused. In addition to euphoria, abuse of these substances may elicit a pain relieving effect, a sense of relaxation and feelings of well-being.
Despite these pleasurable effects, abuse of opioid drugs carries serious risks and dangers, including severe addiction, overdose, and death. Some, like illicitly produced fentanyl and carfentanil, can cause overdose even at minuscule amounts.
Illicit opioids include:
- Grey Death
- synthetic opioid U-47700 (“Pink”)
Cocaine (Including Crack)
Both versions of cocaine carry a high potential for overdose. Long-term use can cause brain damage, heart attack, and seizures, among other serious health and medical complications.
Cocaine: This highly addictive stimulant drug appears as a fine, white powder.
Crack cocaine: This rock-like, freebase version of cocaine is the most potent and addictive form of the drug.
Illicit methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, can take the form of a powder, shards of glass or bluish-white rocks. The latter two forms are referred to as crystal meth. Yaba is a tablet that contains meth and caffeine.
Abuse of this potent stimulant drug can cause major cardiac problems, psychological problems, overdose, and death.
Prescription methamphetamine (Desoxyn) is prescribed for ADHD, however, like the illegal form, this medication can be addictive and dangerous when abused.
Prescription stimulant medications are commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however, certain drugs may be used in treatments for binge eating disorder, narcolepsy and weight loss.
In situations of abuse, these drugs are frequently used as performance-enhancing drugs to increase a person’s academic or professional abilities or to improve a person’s memory.
Frequently referred to as “study drugs” or “smart pills,” abuse of these drugs carries major risks, including addiction, overdose, heart problems, psychosis, and seizures.
Commonly abused prescription stimulant medications include:
- dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
- dextroamphetamine/amphetamine (Adderall)
- methamphetamine (Desoxyn)
- methylphenidate (Concerta and Ritalin LA)
- lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
Synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as bath salts, are synthetically produced stimulants that mimic cathinone, a chemical derived from the khat plant. These substances are addictive and have stimulant properties with effects similar to cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA (ecstasy).
Despite causing a fatal overdose, these designer drugs may at times be legally purchased. This crystalline powder is commonly sold as bath salts, jewelry cleaner or plant food. On the street, this drug may be called Bliss or White Lightning.
Commonly abused synthetic cathinones include:
- Mephedrone or Meow meow
- Flakka also referred to as gravel, is the street name for the synthetic cathinone
Abuse of synthetic cathinones can cause excited delirium, hallucinations, paranoia, and violent aggression. Serious risks include heart attack, kidney failure, self-injury, and suicide.
Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2 And Spice)
Synthetic cannabinoids, also referred to as “fake weed” or “synthetic marijuana,” contain man-made chemicals that are similar to the cannabinoids or THC that is found in marijuana. These mind-altering chemicals can be far stronger and more dangerous than marijuana, however.
Abuse of synthetic cannabinoids, such as K2 and Spice has been linked to hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis, suicidal thoughts and violent acts. Many of these states could cause harm to both the person taking the drug and to those around them. These drugs are addictive.
Z-drugs are prescription sleep aids that have a chemical makeup similar to benzodiazepines. Because of this, they have a similar sedative-hypnotic effect that creates a potential for abuse and addiction.
While under the influence of these drugs, a person may face an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. Some people experience nocturnal activities, such as sleep driving or sex that could be dangerous. Abuse can also cause hallucinations, psychosis, coma, and overdose.
Commonly abused prescription sleep aids include:
- zolpidem (Ambien)
- zaleplon (Sonata)
- eszopliclone (Lunesta)
Other Drugs Of Abuse
From antidepressants to medications for anxiety and other physical and mental health problems, prescription drug abuse may also stem from the following drugs:
- atomoxetine (Strattera)
- citalopram (Celexa)
- escitalopram (Lexapro)
- fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- buprenorphine (Suboxone)
- paroxetine (Paxil)
- quetiapine (Seroquel)
- sertraline (Zoloft)
Illegal And Illicit Drugs
The following substances may be used to obtain a high or mind-altering effect:
- MDMA (ecstasy/Molly)
Though phenibut isn’t illegal, this nootropic supplement may be abused to self-medicate a mental health problem or to enhance performance, behaviors that could lead to compulsive use.
Harmful patterns of drug abuse aren’t exclusive to illicit drugs and prescription medication misuse. Due to their price and availability, many individuals, especially teens, abuse a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Commonly abused over-the-counter medications include:
- dextromethorphan (DXM) or other cough medicines
- diet pills
- sleep aids
Finding A Drug And Alcohol Rehab Center
No matter the drug, if a person is addicted, they need help. Choosing a comprehensive drug and alcohol rehab program could mean the difference between continued addiction and healthier, drug-free life.
Certain forms of drug abuse can form a strong physical dependence. This is common with alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioid drugs. Because of this, a person may need a professionally supervised withdrawal.
A medically supported detox, or medical detox, offers 24-hour supervision while a person’s body cleanses the drug from its system. Medications are frequently used at this time to reduce painful or uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.
A detox program should not be viewed as a standalone treatment for addiction, rather, it should be used as the first step of treatment before rehab. Once a person has successfully detoxed, they should transition to a drug and alcohol rehab program.
An inpatient drug rehab program, also referred to as residential addiction treatment, offers the highest level of care and supervision. These programs can be especially beneficial for people who are severely addicted, who have experienced a chronic relapse or who have a dual diagnosis.
Psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are research-based treatments for both addiction and dual diagnosis addiction treatment. Quite often, these and other behavioral therapies may be combined with medication, an approach known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Mind-body-spirit healing is possible when a person receives compassionate, individualized treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism.
Contact TreehouseRehab.org today to learn about drug and alcohol addiction treatment options.
- Center for Substance Abuse Research — Yaba
- National Inhalant Prevention Coalition — About Inhalants
- National Inhalant Prevention Coalition — Products Abused As Inhalants
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Commonly Abused Drugs Charts
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — What are inhalants?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Marijuana
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Synthetic Cathinones ("Bath Salts")
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — What is methamphetamine?
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
- U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency — Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide 2017 Edition