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Drug use is a serious reality that can have damaging consequences on your health. Illegal drugs, or street drugs, have many harmful effects—but they are also highly addictive. They can cause a chronic illness, or chemical dependency, that will interfere with your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. These drugs are illegal not only because they are highly addictive, but also due to the health risks associated (even for one-time users) and the unpredictability of the chemical makeup of these drugs. With most drugs, you run the risk of damaging parts of your brain, heart and nervous system with each use. With stimulants such as cocaine, or with opiates like heroine, you can overdose on your first try and even die. Psychotropic drugs like acid and marijuana can cause serious often irreversible emotional and psychological problems in users. Prescription drugs for antianxiety, ADHD or pain relief are also highly addictive and, if abused, can cause serious emotional problems as well as detrimental health effects.

If you’re an adult, beyond “experimentation,” and you’re still using illegal drugs, you have a problem. Drug addiction and drug abuse seriously affect your lifestyle and health, so it’s important to stop as soon as you acknowledge that you have a problem. You might feel out of control or frightened about seeking help. Although these feelings are natural, they are also unfounded. So much help is available for you if you want to stop a drug problem. Don’t feel afraid to talk to somebody. You won’t get in trouble with the law if you come clean and talk to a counselor about your drug use. Nobody can arrest you for previous drug use. Talk to a family member or a trusted friend about your problem first, or go directly to a trained professional for help.

Read on to see the names and health effects of some commonly abused drugs.

Drug Category Also Known As Short-term Effects Effects from Prolonged Use
Cannabinoids Marijuana, pot, dope, ganja, reefer, weed, dank nugs, chronic, hashish Confusion, slowed thinking and reaction time, loss of coordination and balance, paranoia, dry mouth, loss of sense of time,  euphoria Frequent respiratory infections, persistent cough, learning and memory problems, persistent confusion, increased heart rate, anxiety and panic disorder, tolerance and addiction

Barbituates

(Depressant)

Phenobarbital, Nembutal, Seconal, Amytal, yellows, reds, pills, downers, Calmness, reduced anxiety, lowered inhibitions, low blood pressure, problems concentrating, fatigue, sleepiness, dizziness, fainting, impaired judgment, slurred speech, fever Fatigue, confusion, coordination problems, addiction, depression, respiratory depression and arrest, irritability, life-threatening withdrawal

Benzodiazepines

(Depressant)

 
Ativan, Valium, Xanax, Librium, downers, sleeping pills, tranks Sedation, drowsiness, dizziness Addiction and dependency, withdrawal symptoms, depression, fatigue, confusion, irritability

Flunitrazepam

(Depressant)

 
Rohypnol, roofies, R2, roofinol, The Date Rape Drug Drowsiness, memory loss for the time under the drug°s effect, urinary retention, visual and gastrointestinal disturbances Addiction and dependency, withdrawal symptoms, depression, fatigue, confusion, irritability

Gamma Hydroxybutyrate

(Depressant)

 
GHB, G Liquid ecstasy Drowsiness, nausea/vomiting, headache, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, seizures, coma, death Addiction and dependency, withdrawal, fatigue and depression, impaired memory, seizures respiratory arrest and death, coma

Methaqualone

(Depressant)

 
Quaalude, Sopor, Parest, ludes Euphoria, reduced pain and anxiety, lowered inhibitions, depression, poor reflexes, slurred speech, coma, slowed pulse and breathing Addiction, memory loss, respiratory depression and arrest, coma

Ketamine

(Dissociative Anesthetic)

 
Special K, K, Vitamin K, cat tranquilizer Changes in heart rate and blood pressure, impaired motor function, numbness, nausea/vomiting, delirium, depression, respiratory arrest Depression, addiction and dependency, impaired motor function and memory loss, respiratory depression and arrest, coma, death

Phencyclidine

(Dissociative Anesthetic)

 
PCP, angel dust Lower blood pressure and heart rate, panic attacks, aggression and violence, loss of appetite, fatigue Depression, addiction and dependency, memory loss, impaired motor function, increased blood pressure, heart disease, behavioral problems, coma and death

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

(Hallucinogen)

 
LSD, acid, dose, microdots, blotters Altered state of reality and perception, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, numbness, weakness, paranoia and panic Persistent mental disorders, tremors, flashbacks, persistent perception disorder, insomnia

Mescaline

(Hallucinogen)

 
Buttons, peyote, cactus, mesc Altered state of reality and perception, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, numbness, weakness, paranoia and panic Persistent mental disorders, tremors, flashbacks, persistent perception disorder, insomnia

Psilocybin

(Hallucinogen)

 
Hallucinogenic mushrooms, shrooms, boomers, magic mushrooms Altered state of reality and perception, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, numbness, weakness, paranoia and panic Persistent mental disorders, tremors, flashbacks, persistent perception disorder, insomnia

Codeine

(Opiate)

 
Cody, Tylenol with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, syrup Pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma Persistent confusion, fatigue, depression, tolerance, addiction and dependency, respiratory depression and arrest, death

Heroin

(Opiate)

 
H, smack, junk, white horse Euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma, staggering gait Strong development of tolerance and addiction, depression, fatigue, respiratory depression and arrest, coma, death

Morphine

(Opiate)

 
Roxanol, Duramorph, M, Monkey, white stuff Euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma Tolerance and addiction, depression, fatigue, respiratory depression and arrest, coma, death
 

Opium

(Opiate)

  Laudanum, paregoric, gum, hop, black stuff   Euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma   Tolerance and addiction, depression, fatigue, respiratory depression and arrest, coma, death

Oxycontin

(Opiate)

 
Oxy, O.C., killer Time-released pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma Tolerance and addiction, depression, fatigue, respiratory depression and arrest, coma, death

Hydrocodone bitartrate, acetaminophen

(Opiate)

 
Vicodin, vike, Watson-387 Pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, respiratory depression and arrest, unconsciousness, coma Tolerance and addiction, depression, fatigue, respiratory depression and arrest, coma, death

Amphetamine

(Stimulant)

 
Biphetameine, Dexedrine, speed, uppers, truck drivers Loss of coordination, rapid breathing, delirium, impulsive behavior, aggression, paranoia, panic, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, feelings of exhilaration, increased mental alertness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, reduced appetite and weight loss, heart failure, nervousness and anxiety, sleeplessness Increased blood pressure and heart disease, unhealthy weight loss, panic disorder, persistent anxiety and other mental disorders and psychosis, tolerance, dependency and addiction, irritability, behavioral problems, heart failure and death

Cocaine

(Stimulant)

 
Blow, bump, coke, rock, snow, toot, crack Chest pain, respiratory failure, nausea, abdominal pain, panic, impulsive behavior, aggression, paranoia, panic, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, feelings of exhilaration, increased mental alertness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, reduced appetite and weight loss, heart failure, nervousness and anxiety, sleeplessness Increased blood pressure and heart disease, unhealthy weight loss, panic disorder, persistent anxiety and other mental disorders and psychosis, insomnia, tolerance, dependency and addiction, irritability, behavioral problems, stroke, seizures, headaches, heart failure and death

MDMA

(Stimulant)

 
Ecstasy, E, X, lover's speed Mild hallucination, increased sensitivity and sense of touch, emphatic feelings, impaired memory, learning and concentration, altered perception of reality, hyperthermia, cardiac toxicity, renal failure, liver toxicity Cardiac toxicity, renal failure, liver toxicity, depression, numbness, persistent anxiety and other mental disorders and psychosis, dependency and addiction, irritability, behavioral problems

Methamphetamine

(Stimulant)

 
Crank, crystal, meth, speed, glass Aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, memory loss, paranoia, panic, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, feelings of exhilaration, increased mental alertness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, reduced appetite and weight loss, heart failure, nervousness and anxiety, sleeplessness Cardiac and neurological damage, impaired memory and learning, increased blood pressure and heart disease, un healthy weight loss, panic disorder, persistent anxiety and other mental disorders and psychosis, tolerance, dependency and addiction, irritability, behavioral problems, heart failure and death

Methylphenidate

(Stimulant)

 
Ritalin, vitamin R, the smart drug, JIF Feelings of exhilaration and mental alertness, energy, increased heart rate, change in blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, psychotic episodes, digestive problems, loss of appetite, heart failure Blood pressure increase, heart disease, digestive problems, tolerance and dependency, irritability, behavioral problems, psychosis, heart failure
Anabolic steroids Anadrol, Oxandrin, Durabolin, Depo-testosterone, equipoise, roids, juice   No intoxication affects: Hostility and aggression, menstrual irregularities, development of beard and other masculine characteristics, hypertension, blood clotting, cholesterol changes, liver cysts and cancer, kidney cancer, acne
Inhalants Nitrous oxide, laughing gas, glue, poppers, whippets Stimulation, loss of inhibition, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting, loss of coordination, wheezing, unconsciousness, sudden death Depression, memory impairment, damage to cardiovascular and nervous systems, sudden death

If you have a drug problem or are in recovery, you should talk to your healthcare provider about your situation. Your provider needs to know what drugs you have been on, or are taking, in order to get an accurate diagnosis. But your provider also needs to know about your drug history in order to prescribe the right treatments. Your drug abuse might have affected some of your medical treatments, and that could explain certain symptoms you’re experiencing. Furthermore, your provider will prescribe certain medications and dosages depending on how these medications may interact with any drugs you take as part of a recovery program or recreationally. If you choose to continue to take illegal drugs, you should talk to your provider about the health consequences of this choice. Your provider won’t “turn you in,” but he or she can advise you about your health, ways to stop if you have a dependency, and options for counseling and support groups.

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Drugs