The term “drugs” covers a variety of substances that change how the mind and body work. Some drugs can be found on the shelf at a pharmacy, while others are illegal and are sold illicitly. Drugs vary in price, availability, and effects — but one thing that all drugs have in common is that they have the potential to be abused.

Which drugs are used the most? Keep reading to find out more about the ten most-used drugs and substances.

Why Do People Use Drugs?

There are many genetic and environmental factors that may lead to substance use and abuse. First, individuals may be genetically predisposed to drug use. This means that addiction runs in their immediate family and the potential has been passed down to them. Some mental health struggles and psychological factors may also lead to drug abuse. If someone is lonely or is looking to self-medicate, they may turn to drugs to cope. Drug use may also stem from trouble at home or school, cultural attitudes, peer pressure, impulsivity, and more. 

Categories of Drugs

Drugs may fall into one of the following categories:

  • Prescription medications
  • Over the counter medicines
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco illegal drugs

Illegal drugs include substances like cocaine, heroine, inhalants, marijuana, club drugs, steroids, and methamphetamines.

In addition to categories, drugs can also fall into different classifications. For example, alcohol is considered a depressant drug because of how it affects the brain and body. Drugs may also be classified as CNS (central nervous system) stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, inhalants, or cannabis. 

What Are the Top 10 Most Used Drugs?

Here are some of the most commonly-used drugs today:

  1. Tobacco – Tobacco claims more lives than any other addictive substance in the United States. While it is legal, it can lead to extreme health complications.
  2. Alcohol – Since it’s legal for individuals over 21 years old in the US, alcohol is clearly one of the most commonly-used drugs. Consequences of alcohol abuse include liver disease, overdose, lowered inhibitions, legal troubles, and more.
  3. Painkillers – Painkillers like codeine, Vicodin, and OxyContin are prescribed to treat pain but are extremely addictive and can quickly lead to dependence.
  4. Marijuana – Seeing as marijuana is sometimes used medically and is becoming decriminalized in states throughout the country, this substance is very popular in the US.
  5. Heroin – Heroin, a highly addictive illicit drug, can quickly cause addiction. Those who abuse heroin are likely to experience intense withdrawal symptoms after use. Recovery from heroin is especially difficult and may require inpatient rehabilitation treatment.
  6. Cocaine – While cocaine addiction has been declining for the past couple of decades in the US, crack cocaine abuse is still very prevalent.
  7. Benzodiazepines – Benzos are a type of prescription drug that helps manage anxiety and depression. Brand names include Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin. Benzos have a powerful impact on the brain’s chemical makeup, so withdrawal could be severe.
  8. Stimulants – Stimulants range from common prescription drugs like Adderall to illicit substances like meth. They are highly addictive, which can lead to intense withdrawal.
  9. Inhalants – Inhalants are typically everyday substances like gasoline and cleaning products. Since they are not designed for consumption, inhalants can be extremely toxic.
  10. Sedatives – Sedatives include common sleeping pills such as Lunesta and Ambien.

Substance Abuse Treatment

Not everyone who uses the drugs listed above becomes addicted to them, but some come with a high chance of dependence. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, it may be time to start seeking treatment options. Treatment plans for substance abuse vary depending on the patient’s individual circumstance. Methods typically include education, different types of therapy, and certain medications.

To learn more about commonly used drugs, contact our team of substance abuse specialists by calling 267.209.7312