11 Types of Drug Abuse

Written by Journey Pure Staff

All individuals who struggle with substance use disorder share in several similarities in terms of their experiences, however, they are also different in many ways. Specifically, the signs, symptoms, and effects of one’s substance use disorder will be dependent on how much he or she is using, how often he or she uses, and if he or she is using alongside other addictive substances. There are many different classes of drugs, all of which can pose danger to those who choose to abuse substances within those classes. The continued abuse of any addictive substances can lead to problems such as unemployment, family turmoil, physical complications, and psychiatric problems. The sooner that an individual ends his or her drug abuse, the more likely he or she is to have a chance at a full recovery. All drugs are not created equal. In fact, some drugs have the potential to be deadlier than others based on how they are developed, what they contain, and how potent they are. Some of the most common types of drug abuse include the following:

Stimulant Abuse

Stimulants are substances that cause physical and psychological functions to speed up. Individuals that abuse stimulants tend to experience a major boost in energy, euphoria, and a powerful sense of grandiosity. And while some stimulant substances can be effective for individuals battling certain mental health issues, several stimulants offer no medical or psychiatric benefit. The most commonly abused stimulants include:

  • Amphetamines
  • Meth
  • Adderall
  • Vyvanse
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine
  • Ritalin
  • Cocaine
  • Crack

Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine is a street drug that has been and continues to be extremely popular throughout the United States. This substance, which is a derivative of the coca plant, comes in white powder form and is usually snorted. Someone abusing cocaine will experience an energetic, euphoric high for about 20 minutes before it wears off. As a result, most cocaine users abuse this substance back-to-back to maintain that high. Unfortunately, using cocaine this frequently quickly leads to dependence and potential overdose.

Adderall Abuse

By far the most popular prescription stimulant, Adderall is used for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. When taken as prescribed, Adderall can increase focus and attention. However, when it is abused, Adderall triggers a boost of energy and hyperfocus, which can last hours. Abusing this prescription drug excessively can lead to cardiac complications up to and including heart attack.

Meth Abuse

Known on the streets as “trash” or “garbage”, meth is an extremely toxic stimulant that has a pseudoephedrine base, which is the primary ingredient that triggers stimulant effects. Meth also contains deadly elements such as paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, and battery fluid, to name a few. Individuals abusing meth will experience intense euphoric highs and equally as depressed lows. The up and down process of going from euphoric to depressed can be extreme and lead to severe psychological problems that have the potential to be permanent.

Opioid Abuse

More than 11 million people in the United States have abused opioids. Today, the opioid epidemic rages on and more and more people are becoming dependent on their opioid or opioids of choice. Opioids can be naturally occurring (such as heroin and codeine) or synthetic (such as fentanyl and OxyContin) but are all equally as addictive. Continual opioid abuse can result in vital organ damage or failure, respiratory problems, and overdose. In fact, drug abuse involving opioids is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. The medication Suboxone helps combat physical withdrawal symptoms in the short-term or for a maintenance period spanning many months.

Heroin Abuse

Today, heroin is the kingpin of opioids, with nearly one million people in the U.S. abusing it. When heroin is abused, individuals obtain a pleasurable high that reduces or eliminates their physical and/or psychological distress. Countless heroin users were once prescription painkiller users, however, found that heroin was easier to obtain and more affordable. Heroin is usually smoked or injected. Those who inject this opioid can suffer from collapsed veins and an increased risk for contracting bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

Prescription Painkillers

OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and fentanyl are some of the most commonly abused prescription painkillers. When taken as prescribed, each one of these painkillers can pose a significant medical benefit, however when abused, they can be deadly. Prescription painkiller users tend to partake in behaviors such as doctor shopping, stealing prescription drugs from loved ones’ homes, and obtaining pills on the street. These medications can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected. Since these opioids are semi-synthetic, it is impossible to know what exact substances are in these drugs, making them extremely risky to continue to abuse.

Sedative Abuse

Sedatives such as benzodiazepines are primarily used to treat anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Benzodiazepines are highly effective in reducing anxiety and can also aid in helping individuals who suffer from sleep problems or seizures. However, they are very popular substances of abuse due to the feelings of detachment and relaxation that they produce.

Xanax, Ativan, and Valium

Xanax, Ativan, and Valium are benzodiazepines that work to calm the mind and body. When an individual consumes one or more of these benzodiazepines, he or she will become almost instantly relaxed. Unfortunately, when benzodiazepines like these are abused, individuals are at risk for experiencing excessive sleepiness, drowsiness, and respiratory depression. When an individual becomes physically and psychologically dependent on one of these prescription drugs and attempts to stop using suddenly, he or she can suffer from deadly withdrawal symptoms, including grand mal seizures.


Hallucinogens have long been part of club culture as substances that can enhance one’s experiences. While there are countless physical dangers of abusing hallucinations, one of the most pressing areas of concern is that someone who is under the influence of a hallucinogen can behave in a manner that is possibly dangerous or even deadly.

Ecstasy Abuse

When ecstasy is abused, individuals experience delusions and hallucinations that can be both visual and auditory. Those who are under the influence explain being on ecstasy as being in a state of complete euphoria. But when this drug is abused, several negative effects can occur, including dehydration that can be life-threatening.

The Solution

Any and all types of drug abuse should be taken seriously. Allowing a substance use disorder to continue only leads to negative outcomes. At JourneyPure, we provide those struggling with the support and comprehensive treatment they need to end their use and begin a life of recovery. Learn more about our inpatient rehabs in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida.