Skip Navigation

NIH: National Institutes of Health
The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction from the National Institute on Drug Abuse Keep Your Body Healthy
Go to the Home pageGo to the About Nida pageGo to the News & Events pageGo to the Funding pageGo to the Publications page
PhysiciansResearchersParents/TeachersStudents/Young AdultsEn Español Drugs of Abuse & Related Topics
NIDA Home > Drugs of Abuse/Related Topics > Commonly Abused Drugs

Commonly Abused Drugs

Substances:
Category and Name
Examples of Commercial
and Street Names
DEA Schedule*/
How Administered**
Intoxication Effects/Potential Health Consequences
Cannabinoids euphoria, slowed thinking and reaction time, confusion, impaired balance and coordination/cough, frequent respiratory infections; impaired memory and learning; increased heart rate, anxiety; panic attacks; tolerance, addiction
hashish boom, chronic, gangster, hash, hash oil, hemp I/swallowed, smoked
marijuana blunt, dope, ganja, grass, herb, joints, Mary Jane, pot, reefer, sinsemilla, skunk, weed I/swallowed, smoked
Depressants reduced anxiety; feeling of well-being; lowered inhibitions; slowed pulse and breathing; lowered blood pressure; poor concentration/fatigue; confusion; impaired coordination, memory, judgment; addiction; respiratory depression and arrest; death

Also, for barbiturates—sedation, drowsiness/depression, unusual excitement, fever, irritability, poor judgment, slurred speech, dizziness, life-threatening withdrawal

for benzodiazepines—sedation, drowsiness/dizziness

for flunitrazepam—visual and gastrointestinal disturbances, urinary retention, memory loss for the time under the drug's effects

for GHB—drowsiness, nausea/vomiting, headache, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, seizures, coma, death

for methaqualone—euphoria/depression, poor reflexes, slurred speech, coma
barbiturates Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital: barbs, reds, red birds, phennies, tooies, yellows, yellow jackets II, III, V/injected, swallowed
benzodiazepines (other than flunitrazepam) Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax: candy, downers, sleeping pills, tranks IV/swallowed, injected
flunitrazepam*** Rohypnol: forget-me pill, Mexican Valium, R2, Roche, roofies, roofinol, rope, rophies IV/swallowed, snorted
GHB*** gamma-
hydroxybutyrate:
G, Georgia home boy, grievous bodily harm, liquid ecstasy
I/swallowed
methaqualone Quaalude, Sopor, Parest: ludes, mandrex, quad, quay I/injected, swallowed
Dissociative Anesthetics increased heart rate and blood pressure, impaired motor function/memory loss; numbness; nausea/vomiting

Also, for ketamine—at high doses, delirium, depression, respiratory depression and arrest

for PCP and analogs—possible decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, panic, aggression, violence/loss of appetite, depression
ketamine Ketalar SV: cat Valiums, K, Special K, vitamin K III/injected, snorted, smoked
PCP and analogs phencyclidine; angel dust, boat, hog, love boat, peace pill I, II/injected, swallowed, smoked
Hallucinogens altered states of perception and feeling; nausea; persisting perception disorder (flashbacks)

Also, Also for LSD and mescaline—increased body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure; loss of appetite, sleeplessness, numbness, weakness, tremors

for for LSD—persistent mental disorders

for for psilocybin—nervousness, paranoia
LSD lysergic acid diethylamide: acid, blotter, boomers, cubes, microdot, yellow sunshines I/swallowed, absorbed through mouth tissues
mescaline buttons, cactus, mesc, peyote I/swallowed, smoked
psilocybin magic mushroom, purple passion, shrooms I/swallowed
Opioids and Morphine Derivatives pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness/nausea, constipation, confusion, sedation, respiratory depression and arrest, tolerance, addiction, unconsciousness, coma, death

Also, for codeine—less analgesia, sedation, and respiratory depression than morphine

for heroin—staggering gait
codeine Empirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine: Captain Cody, schoolboy; (with glutethimide) doors & fours, loads, pancakes and syrup II, III, IV, V/injected, swallowed
fentanyl and fentanyl analogs Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze: Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, Tango and Cash I, II/injected, smoked, snorted
heroin diacetyl-
morphine:
brown sugar, dope, H, horse, junk, skag, skunk, smack, white horse
I/injected, smoked, snorted
morphine Roxanol, Duramorph: M, Miss Emma, monkey, white stuff II, III/injected, swallowed, smoked
opium laudanum, paregoric: big O, black stuff, block, gum, hop II, III, V/swallowed, smoked
oxycodone HCL Oxycontin: Oxy, O.C., killer II/swallowed, snorted, injected
hydrocodone bitartrate, acetaminophen Vicodin: vike, Watson-387 II/swallowed
Stimulants increased heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism; feelings of exhilaration, energy, increased mental alertness/rapid or irregular heart beat; reduced appetite, weight loss, heart failure, nervousness, insomnia

Also, for amphetamine—rapid breathing/tremor, loss of coordination; irritability, anxiousness, restlessness, delirium, panic, paranoia, impulsive behavior, aggressiveness, tolerance, addiction, psychosis

for cocaine—increased temperature/chest pain, respiratory failure, nausea, abdominal pain, strokes, seizures, headaches, malnutrition, panic attacks

for MDMA—mild hallucinogenic effects, increased tactile sensitivity, empathic feelings/impaired memory and learning, hyperthermia, cardiac toxicity, renal failure, liver toxicity

for methamphetamine—aggression, violence, psychotic behavior/memory loss, cardiac and neurological damage; impaired memory and learning, tolerance, addiction

for nicotine—additional effects attributable to tobacco exposure; adverse pregnancy outcomes; chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, tolerance, addiction
amphetamine Biphetamine, Dexedrine: bennies, black beauties, crosses, hearts, LA turnaround, speed, truck drivers, uppers II/injected, swallowed, smoked, snorted
cocaine Cocaine hydrochloride: blow, bump, C, candy, Charlie, coke, crack, flake, rock, snow, toot II/injected, smoked, snorted
MDMA (methylenedioxy-
methamphetamine)
Adam, clarity, ecstasy, Eve, lover's speed, peace, STP, X, XTC I/swallowed
methamphetamine Desoxyn: chalk, crank, crystal, fire, glass, go fast, ice, meth, speed II/injected, swallowed, smoked, snorted
methylphenidate (safe and effective for treatment of ADHD) Ritalin: JIF, MPH, R-ball, Skippy, the smart drug, vitamin R II/injected, swallowed, snorted
nicotine cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, snuff, spit tobacco, bidis, chew not scheduled/smoked, snorted, taken in snuff and spit tobacco
Other Compounds
anabolic steroids Anadrol, Oxandrin, Durabolin, Depo-
Testosterone, Equipoise:
roids, juice
III/injected, swallowed, applied to skin no intoxication effects/hypertension, blood clotting and cholesterol changes, liver cysts and cancer, kidney cancer, hostility and aggression, acne; in adolescents, premature stoppage of growth; in males, prostate cancer, reduced sperm production, shrunken testicles, breast enlargement; in females, menstrual irregularities, development of beard and other masculine characteristics
Dextromethorphan (DXM) Found in some cough and cold medications; Robotripping, Robo, Triple C not scheduled/swallowed Dissociative effects, distorted visual perceptions to complete dissociative effects/for effects at higher doses see 'dissociative anesthetics'
inhalants Solvents (paint thinners, gasoline, glues), gases (butane, propane, aerosol propellants, nitrous oxide), nitrites (isoamyl, isobutyl, cyclohexyl): laughing gas, poppers, snappers, whippets not scheduled/inhaled through nose or mouth stimulation, loss of inhibition; headache; nausea or vomiting; slurred speech, loss of motor coordination; wheezing/unconsciousness, cramps, weight loss, muscle weakness, depression, memory impairment, damage to cardiovascular and nervous systems, sudden death



* Schedule I and II drugs have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule I drugs are available for research only and have no approved medical use; Schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. Schedule III and IV drugs are available by prescription, may have five refills in 6 months, and may be ordered orally. Some Schedule V drugs are available over the counter.


** Taking drugs by injection can increase the risk of infection through needle contamination with staphylococci, HIV, hepatitis, and other organisms.


*** Associated with sexual assaults.


Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment

More than three decades of scientific research have yielded 13 fundamental principles that characterize effective drug abuse treatment. These principles are detailed in NIDA's Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.

1. No single treatment is appropriate for all individuals. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to each patient's problems and needs is critical.

2. Treatment needs to be readily available. Treatment applicants can be lost if treatment is not immediately available or readily accessible.

Graph showing 8th 10th and 12th grade use of illicit drugs3. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug use. Treatment must address the individual's drug use and associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.

4. At different times during treatment, a patient may develop a need for medical services, family therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and social and legal services.

5. Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical for treatment effectiveness. The time depends on an individual's needs. For most patients, the threshold of significant improvement is reached at about 3 months in treatment. Additional treatment can produce further progress. Programs should include strategies to prevent patients from leaving treatment prematurely.

6. Individual and/or group counseling and other behavioral therapies are critical components of effective treatment for addiction. In therapy, patients address motivation, build skills to resist drug use, replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding nondrug-using activities, and improve problem-solving abilities. Behavioral therapy also facilitates interpersonal relationships.

Graph showing percentage of U.S. Population who have ever used drugs of abuse7. Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Buprenorphine, methadone and levo-alpha-acetylmethodol (LAAM) help persons addicted to opiates stabilize their lives and reduce their drug use. Naltrexone is effective for some opiate addicts and some patients with co-occurring alcohol dependence. Nicotine patches or gum, or an oral medication, such as buproprion, can help persons addicted to nicotine.

8. Addicted or drug-abusing individuals with coexisting mental disorders should have both disorders treated in an integrated way.

9. Medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use. Medical detoxification manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal. For some individuals it is a precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.

10. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective. Sanctions or enticements in the family, employment setting, or criminal justice system can significantly increase treatment entry, retention, and success.

11. Possible drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously. Monitoring a patient's drug and alcohol use during treatment, such as through urinalysis, can help the patient withstand urges to use drugs. Such monitoring also can provide early evidence of drug use so that treatment can be adjusted.

12. Treatment programs should provide assessment for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, and counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them or others at risk of infection. Counseling can help patients avoid high-risk behavior and help people who are already infected manage their illness.

13. Recovery from drug addiction can be a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment. As with other chronic illnesses, relapses to drug use can occur during or after successful treatment episodes. Participation in self-help support programs during and following treatment often helps maintain abstinence.
GET THIS PUBLICATION

Get Adobe Reader
This document also available
in PDF format [212 Kb]

Commonly Abused
Drugs Flyer



Need a treatment referral?
Call 1-800-662-HELP or visit findtreatment.samhsa.gov

See Also:

NIDA's Publication Series:
Other Web Sites:


NIDA Home | Site Map | Search | FAQs | Accessibility | Help | Privacy | FOIA (NIH) | Employment |


National Institutes of Health logo_Department of Health and Human Services Logo The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Questions? See our Contact Information. Last updated on Wednesday, January 2, 2008. The U.S. government's official web portal