- Powered by American Addiction Centers

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Facts

Resources on Substance Abuse and Addiction

  • Getting the facts about drug abuse can help prevent addiction and make it easier to spot the signs of addiction.
  • Types of abused drugs include stimulants, depressants, prescription drugs, synthetic/designer drugs and hallucinogens.
  • Stimulants increase heart rate, blood pressure and brain activity.
  • Depressants slow brain activity, pulse and breathing.
  • Prescription drugs are prescribed by doctors to treat mental and physical health conditions.
  • Designer drugs mimic the effects of other drugs such as marijuana.
  • Hallucinogens cause people to see or hear things that aren’t there.

“Treatment doesn’t have to be expensive; to better understand if your insurance will cover most or all of the treatment, check your insurance coverage today.

Why Drug Education Matters

  • Getting help. An estimated 22.7 million individuals age 12 and older needed treatment for an drug or alcohol use problem in 2013. But only 2.5 million (11%) received treatment. Being able to recognize addiction allows you to seek help for yourself or a loved one before it’s too late.
  • Preventing addiction. Educating yourself about the dangers of drugs can also help prevent abuse and make you aware of the risks of drugs you may be prescribed for certain conditions, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Facts on Stimulant Addiction and Abuse

Stimulants increase heart rate, blood pressure and brain activity. Many people abuse stimulants to increase alertness, attention, and energy.
  • Cocaine is a potent stimulant that usually comes in the form of awhite powder and is typically snorted or injected.
  • Crack is the crystallized version of cocaine and is typically smoked. It is powerfully addictive   and produces a more immediate but shorter high than cocaine.
  • Crystal meth is a cheap and powerful central nervous system stimulant. It produces euphoria and increased energy  but places users at high risk for experiencing stroke or a heart attack.

Facts on Depressant Addiction and Abuse

Depressants slow brain activity, pulse and breathing and are often used to treat anxiety or sleep problems. People commonly abuse depressants to experience a “high” or euphoria and may combine them with other drugs.


Facts on Prescription Drug Addiction and Abuse

These drugs are only legal if prescribed by doctors to treat a mental health or physical health condition. Despite their status as prescription pharmaceuticals, they place users at high risk of developing substance abuse problems—especially when misused.
  • Adderall is also prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. When misused, it creates feelings of euphoria and increased energy and alertness.
  • Ambien  is a sedative prescribed to treat insomnia and can cause impairment even when taken appropriately. It can cause sleepwalking, hallucinations, seizures and slowed breathing and heart rate.
  • Antidepressants are prescribed to treat depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are not addictive when taken as prescribed. But misuse can lead to compulsive drug use behavior.
  • Methylphenidate is the active ingredient in Ritalin and Concerta and primarily treats ADHD and narcolepsy. It is abused to enhance wakefulness, performance, attention, and to suppress appetite.
  • Oxycodone is an opioid pain medication derived from the opium poppy, similar to morphine. Its effects are similar, as well—euphoria, warmth, relaxation and decreased pain.
  • Xanax is used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder but is often abused for its sedative effects.
  • Amphetamines (such as Adderall and Vyvanse) are prescribed to treat ADHD , narcolepsy, depression and obesity.Many teenagers and college students abuse them to get high and to enhance academic performance.
  • Concerta, another brand name for methylphenidate, is prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy and has high potential for abuse and addiction. Individuals who misuse it typically snort it or take more pills than prescribed.
  • Morphine is a powerful pain killer prescribed for acute and chronic symptoms of pain. Those who misuse morphine may take it orally or inject it to experience euphoria, relaxation and decreased pain.
  • Ritalin, the brand name for methylphenidate, is a stimulant medication prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Many teens and college students abuse this drug to increase energy and alertness.

Facts on Synthetic Drug Addiction and Abuse

Designer and synthetic drugs mimic the effects of illegal drugs. They are not monitored or controlled, so each dose can contain vastly different compounds. Many are labeled “not safe for human consumption” to avoid legal ramifications.

  • Bath salts are sometimes erroneously advertised as jewelry cleaner, plant food or phone screen cleaner to sidestep drug laws. They have stimulant-like effects.
  • Spice, also known as K2, is synthetic marijuana that can be found online or in “head shops.” It causes elevation of mood and alterations in perception.
  • MDMA (Ecstasy) acts as both a stimulant and a hallucinogen. It causes euphoria, enhanced sensory perception and increased libido. But it can also have dangerous side effects.
  • Steroids are most commonly used to enhance physical performance. They increase lean body mass, decrease fat mass and boost strength.


Facts on Hallucinogen Addiction and Abuse

Hallucinogens are psychoactive drugs that cause people to hear and see things that aren’t there, as well as experience extreme mood swings.

  • DMT causes brief but intense visual hallucinations. It can also cause increased fear and panic, as well as a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome.
  • LSD produces visual hallucinations and synesthesia, or mixed sensations (hearing colors, seeing music, etc.). LSD use can aggravate existing mental health conditions and is associated with an increase risk of suicide.


Get Help for Addiction

If the use of drugs or alcohol has become a problem for you or a loved one, it’s better to get help sooner rather than later. Substance abuse tends to get worse if it goes untreated, so don’t wait.

Contact a treatment support specialist at today. They can help walk you through the different recovery options available and find the one that’s right for you.