Drug abuse includes the use of illegal
drugs—such as marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, or other "street
drugs"—and the abuse of legal prescription and nonprescription drugs. Some
people use drugs to get a "high" or to relieve stress and emotional
Drugs like ecstasy (MDMA), ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, and
LSD, which are known as "club drugs," may be found at all-night dances, raves,
trances, or clubs. The use of club drugs accounts for increasing numbers of drug
overdoses and emergency room visits. Inhalants like nitrous oxide may also be
used at these clubs. Drugs come in different forms and can be used in different
ways. They can be smoked, snorted, inhaled, taken as pills, put in liquids or
food, put in the rectum or the vagina, or injected with a needle. Teens and
young adults may be at risk for becoming victims of sexual assault or violent
behavior in situations where these
drugs are used.
medicines, such as cold medicines that have dextromethorphan as an ingredient,
are being abused by teens and young adults as a way to get a "high." Glue, shoe polish, cleaning fluids, and aerosols, are common household products with ingredients that can also be used to get a "high."
In the United States and Canada, approximately 40% of adults will use an
illegal drug at some time during their lives. This does not include the use of
alcohol or prescription medicines. Many people abuse more than one illegal
substance at a time.
Drug dependence or addiction occurs when you
develop a physical or emotional "need" for a drug. You are unable to control
your use of a drug despite the negative impact it has on your life. You may not
be aware that you have become dependent on a drug until you try to stop taking
it. Drug withdrawal can cause uncomfortable and sometimes
dangerous symptoms. The usual treatment is to gradually reduce the dose of the
drug until you can completely stop using it.