Drug Abuse in America – An Unchecked Epidemic Killing Hundreds Every Day

Drug abuse can alter how a person thinks and their judgment. It can also lead to health risks such as addiction, drugged driving and infectious disease. For women that are pregnant, drugs can harm an unborn child and cause pregnancy-related issues. According to doctors the emotional and physical responses to drugs will vary depending on the individual and the substance they used.

The Most Commonly Abused Drugs

There are many drugs out there, but below is a list of the most commonly used drugs;

Tobacco / Nicotine


Cannabinoids, such as Marijuana and Hashish

Opioids, such as Heroin and Opium

Stimulants, such as cocaine

Club drugs, such as ecstasy

A deeper look into each of them reveals how they affect the body.

Tobacco / Nicotine

This is found in cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chew among others. Usage of tobacco can increase the risk of many types of cancer like cancer. Studies have discovered that there is a direct link between the usage of tobacco and coronary heart disease. For pregnant women, smoking can increase the risk of developing pregnancy complications.


Alcohol is classified as a drug (depressant) and is the most abused drug. People drink alcohol to celebrate, socialize and relax. The effects of alcohol will vary from one person to another, depending on how much they drink, how often they drink, their age and their health status. Alcohol can cause the user to lose coordination, have impaired judgment, slurred speech in the short run. In the long run it can cause depression, liver and heart disease, addiction and it can be fatal.


They include marijuana and hashish. They can either be swallowed or smokes. Some of the effects include euphoria. Slow reaction time, impaired balance and coordination, increases heart rate and appetite, panic attacks among others. The health risks associated with cannabinoids include coughing, frequent respiratory infections, a decline in mental health and addiction.


Opioids under this category include Heroin and Opium. They can be injected, smoked or snorted. Some of the acute effects felt include drowsiness, impaired coordination, dizziness, arrested breathing among others. The health risk includes constipation, endocarditis and an overdose can lead to fatality of the user.


Substances under this name include cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine. They are snorted, smoked or injected into the blood stream. They are known to cause increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, feelings of exhilaration, reduced appetite, paranoia, psychosis among others. The health risks include weight loss, cardiovascular complications, stroke, seizures and addiction. Nasal damage from snorting and methamphetamine is known to cause severe dental problems.


Ecstasy is swallowed, snorted or injected. In the short run it can cause, impaired judgment, sleep problems, paranoia, blurred vision and depression. In the long run it has been known to cause brain damage that affects thinking and memory, degenerated nerve branches, kidney failure, death among other effects.

Statistics and trends in the U.S.

  • 10.2% of persons aged 12 and over have used an illegal drug within the past month.

  • It is estimated that approximately 20.6 million people in the US aged 12 and above struggle with drug addiction.

  • Over 90% of the addicted began drinking, using illicit drugs or smoking before they were 18.

  • It is estimated that 6.8million of those with an addiction have a mental illness.

  • 9.1% of men compared to 2.6% of women binge drink

  • Tobacco related costs such as health care costs and loss of productivity are estimated to be over 190 billion dollars.

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