If your child is abusing drugs, you may wonder how prevalent adolescent drug abuse is and what drugs are most often abused by adolescents. It’s been estimated nearly 24 million Americans used illegal drugs within the past month. That’s almost 10 percent of the population of the United States. These studies show that drugs are prevalent in our children’s lives, regardless of socioeconomic status. The 5 drugs commonly abused by teens are alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications, over-the-counter substances, and spice or K2. While the most common drugs used may not be surprising, each of these drugs has a big impact on our lives, our community, and our society.
Drugs Most Often Abused
The prevalence of alcohol should come as no surprise when it comes to addiction. Alcohol is readily available, even with laws that prohibit selling it to minors. Drinking by underage persons is around 25 percent. As a legal drug, alcohol is still number one when it comes to addiction and alcoholism is fairly common. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Produced by fermenting yeast, it exists in wine, beer, and liquor.
Marijuana is the second-most prevalent drug of choice because of its ready accessibility. With the decriminalization of marijuana in certain states along with medical marijuana laws, usage has increased in minors and adults. Marijuana is not harmless. It can cause psychoses, it can damage the lungs, and if used by teenagers, can be highly addictive. One in six teenage users are likely to become addicted to marijuana.
Prescription medication abuse is becoming more common especially among young adults and teenagers. Because these drugs are often prescribed by doctors, children are more likely to think that these drugs are harmless or safe, when nothing could be further from the truth. Current drugs that can be abused include stimulants such as methylphenidate (drugs such as Concerta and Ritalin), amphetamines (drugs such as Dexedrine and Adderall), opioids such as morphine, codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone (drugs such as OxyContin), and hydrocodone (drugs such as Vicodin), depressants such as barbiturates (drugs such as phenobarbital), benzodiazepines (drugs such as Xanax and Valium), sleep medications (drugs such as Lunesta and Ambien), and prescription strength cough syrups.
Over-the-counter medications that are frequently abused include the cough syrup ingredient, dextromethorphan. Methamphetamines are often made from pseudoephedrine, a decongestant found in cold medicines.
Spice aka K2
A relatively new drug that has arrived on the scene is called spice or K2. Often called “synthetic” marijuana, it is often anything but. Chemical analyses show that most spice has a designer or synthetic cannabinoid compound component to it, and is far from being “natural” as many spice products’ labels often claim. Spice is considered highly addictive and in many cases has been known to cause confusion, agitation, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, vomiting, raised blood pressure, reduction in blood supply to the heart, and even heart attacks. Obviously, these are not all the drugs that are popular. Some drugs such as cocaine (including crack), methamphetamine or meth, and heroin are real problems in certain parts of the world and certain areas. To learn more about the danger of teen drug use and how we can help, give us a call at 877-466-0620. Sources:
- DrugFacts: Nationwide Trends, National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs, National Institute on Drug Abuse,
- Media Guide: Most Commonly Used Addictive Drugs, National Institute on Drug Abuse