The Top 5 Most Commonly Used Drugs


The Different Types of Drugs

“Drugs” is an umbrella term that can be used to describe a variety of both legal and illegal substances. Some of these substances are considered harmless and are available for purchase at the local pharmacy, while others can be potentially fatal and are illegal in the United States. While some drugs are designed to help manage and maintain physical or mental conditions, others are purchased solely to get high or satisfy a craving that comes from addiction.

Each individual type of drug is designed differently and can affect people in different ways. To determine the effects of specific substances, all drugs fall into one of several categories of drugs. These drug classifications or categories include opioids, benzos/depressants, stimulants, steroids, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, inhalants, and more.

Drugs can range from over the counter and prescription medications to recreational substances like alcohol and tobacco to illicit or illegal substances. Illegal drugs include cocaine, heroine, inhalants, marijuana, club drugs (MDMA, ecstasy), steroids, methamphetamines, and more.


Why People Start & Continue Taking Drugs

There are many reasons why people may decide to start or continue taking certain drugs. They could either take certain drugs to help them with a condition, or they could misuse substances in the interest of seeking out a euphoric sensation. Misusing drugs of any kind can lead to risky behaviors, dependence, abuse, addiction, and additional health conditions.

Here are just a few things that might cause people to begin using drugs or take more of a certain substance than they should:

  • Self-medication for mental health
  • Trouble at home or with relationships
  • Starting drug use at a young age
  • Issues at school or at work
  • For a condition or illness
  • To treat pain or discomfort
  • Genetic predispositions
  • To relax or induce sleep
  • Due to peer pressure
  • Out of curiosity
  • To get high

No matter the reason, it is always possible for people to become dependent once they start using drugs. Some drugs are so frequently used that they may eventually be part of a person’s daily routine. Since these substances are purchased and used so often, it is easy to overlook the eventual complications that they can cause.


What Are The Top 5 Most Used Drugs?

One of the most commonly used drugs is tobacco, primarily because of its availability. Tobacco products like cigarettes and vapes can be found behind the counter at many convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and other everyday retail establishments. Many people are aware of the negative effects that nicotine can have on the lungs and other areas of the body, so the rate of cigarette purchases have decreased recently. Vapes, however, have escalated in popularity due to their convenience and accessibility. Marijuana is also rising in popularity because of its calming properties and the decriminalization of cannabis in many states.

Another very accessible and popular substance is alcohol, which is available at most restaurants and almost every bar. Alcohol has become ingrained in our routines and our culture as a hobby, which makes it very easy for people to become dependent on this substance.

Painkillers are also one of the most commonly-used types of substances because they are used to treat bodily pain like headaches, cramps, injuries, and more. And finally, cocaine is a relatively expensive drug that is very widely used in party environments and high-income communities.


Monitoring & Managing Substance Use

While some of the drugs listed above take a while to cause dependence, others can trigger addiction extremely quickly. If you decide to take a drug for any reason, it is important to be aware of the correct dosage and any potential side effects. You should also monitor your intake of alcohol and other substances to ensure that your tolerance doesn’t grow. If you think that you might be dependent on alcohol, medication, or any other type of drug, it might be time to talk to your doctor about your treatment options. Treatment options for substance use and abuse include around-the-clock detox care, therapy, counseling, support groups, education, and more.


To learn more about safe drug use or substance abuse treatment options, contact our team or recovery specialists by calling 267.209.7312.