There are plenty of misused and abused drugs that can alter a person’s mind and cloud their judgement. Because of this, the user can become addicted, pose health risks and even contact infectious diseases. That being said, it is a good idea to educate yourself about the most commonly abused substances and what it does to the human body.

Marijuana (Cannabis)

Marijuana, also known as Cannabis, can be found as dried leaves, stems, flowers and seeds of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabi indica plant. It is a mild hallucinogen and the most common illegal drug abused in the United States. While some states have made this drug legal for recreational use, it is still considered illegal in certain areas of the country. Because of its side effects, many people use marijuana for pleasure. But the substances contained within this plan can cause learning disabilities, loss of concentration and short-term memory loss. Not only that, but it can stimulate the central nervous system in a way that increases blood pressure and heart rate. In some cases, users can also experience paranoia and dull their memory.

If marijuana is used and abused for longer periods of time, it can eventually harm the lungs of the user and increase the risk of psychosis to people who cannot handle its effects. Studies show that 30% of those who have been using marijuana have some degree of marijuana use disorder, which is most common among those users who are under the age of 18.

Long-term abuse can also lead to cardiovascular problems as well as heart diseases. Just like any substance that is inhaled through the mouth, marijuana can harm the lungs and can contribute to respiratory problems and infections. is becoming extremely popular.


Opiates affect the central nervous system by stimulating the reward center of the brain, which creates pleasurable feelings for the user. In high doses, opiates can be fatal because they can cause the brain to slow down and for breathing to stop working or even completely shut down in the case of an overdose. Many users are also at risk for contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV through shared needles.


Cocaine is one of the most commonly abused substances in the world today. It is a powerful and addictive stimulant that gives the user a sense of euphoria and burst of energy upon ingestion. They make a person feel good in the short term, but over time it can wreak havoc on the body and mind. This drug is usually taken by snorting the powder form.

Crack cocaine comes in the form of a rock or crystal, and is ingested by smoking. Crack cocaine is often fatal when the user overdoses. Cocaine can constrict blood vessels and increase heart rate, which is why the most common cause of death for cocaine users is cardiac arrest or heart failure. Small doses can also be lethal if used on a regular basis, which is also why many users succumb to a sudden death.


Meth usually comes in a white powder form which can be snorted, smoked or injected, and is highly addictive to its users. Meth is a stimulant and can cause increased heart rates and even hyperthermia. Addicts can experience anxiety, psychotic symptoms and insomnia. It is also known to cause hallucinations and delusions. The most common physical changes you see in a meth addicts are severe dental problems from grinding their teeth and skin infections from picking and scratching their skin. Why? Well, users are known to feel as though something is crawling inside their skin, almost like little bugs running all over them. They scratch and scratch to get rid of the sensation, but because the drug causes this symptom from within, they will never find relief unless they stop using the drug. Besides skin infections and damaged teeth, they are also at risk for hepatitis and HIV through shared needles.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines

Illegal drugs aren’t the only kinds of drugs that are abused. Medications that you can purchase at your local corner or grocery store are also abused by many. The most commonly abused drugs in this category includes cough suppressants containing Dextromethorphan and antidiarrheal (Loperamide) medications. Products which contain DXM are usually sold as cough syrups or gel capsules. If these are taken in large doses, they can cause hallucinogenic and depressant effects. On the other hand, short-term use can cause mild stimulation with marijuana-like or alcohol-like intoxication. Loperamide, if taken in large doses and combined with other substances, can also cause effects like that of an opioid.


Consumption of alcohol, if moderate, is considered safe. However, if consumed excessively and regularly, then you could be addicted to it. Alcohol has depressant and sedative effects, therefore a person can become incoherent and uncoordinated once intoxicated. This is because it targets the central nervous system and alters the perception of a person when drunk. Long term drinkers are also at risk for developing medical conditions like pancreatitis as well as heart problems and liver damage. Pregnant women who drink alcohol can put their child at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome. This can cause mental retardation to a newborn and impair their vision. They could also develop other life-long disabilities that could hinder their growth.


Another commonly abused drug is Valium which is known for its sedative effects. While this drug requires a doctor’s prescription in order to use, many are still able to obtain these illegally. Once valium is taken over a long period of time, the user can develop tolerance. Because of this, the addict will then take even large doses of this drug which can be fatal in the long run. It can also lead to physical dependence, and if the user quits using Valium abruptly, they will experience severe withdrawal symptoms and perhaps even death.

These are the most common substances abused by many drug addicts today. While taking drugs sounds “fun” and like something that will make you “popular” among your peers, think again. Drug abuse ruins lives. Educating yourself about these drugs and their side effects can definitely help you understand how they work. Most of all, it will also show you how they affect the body, mind and mental well-being of a person.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.