Common Types Of Substance Abuse


Despite the side effects associated with drugs, most people are in various forms of substance abuse for different reasons. The substances abused may be varied but the effects due to addiction are similar in one way or another. As a way of controlling substance abuse, the use of some drugs is forbidden in certain countries but others are generally accepted by society.

However, research indicates that education and awareness about substance abuse will be more effective if targeted at children and the youth in order to reduce cases of addiction. Substance abuse causes various negative effects such as altered judgment, wrong perception, lack of self-control and poor concentration.

Once a person has been addicted to a certain substance, reducing the amount of intake or stopping use causes withdrawal syndrome. In addition, the abuse of most drugs can lead to tolerance, where the user requires increasingly more and more amounts of the drug in order to achieve the same effects. There are several common types of substance abuse as described below:


Tobacco contains a stimulant known as nicotine and is one of the most widely abused substances. Many people abuse tobacco for purposes of reliving depression, weight control, reducing effects of hunger and pleasure, among others.

Various dangers associated with abuse of tobacco include lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and emphysema. Withdrawal effects of tobacco smoking include depression, anxiety, hunger and sleeplessness. Smoking contributes to approximately a half million deaths per year in the world.


Alcohol is another widely abused substance, whose effect touches all the body organs. It causes poor judgment, slurred speech, and decreased muscle coordination. Alcohol is also a common cause of liver failure and prolonged abuse of alcohol may lead to alcoholism/ alcohol addiction. The drug can lead to cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, and stomach.

Alcohol abuse is associated with increased aggression, poor judgment, decreased inhibitions, anxiety, depression, relationship problems and sexual dysfunction. In addition to its direct health problems, abuse of alcohol is associated with thousands of road accidents and social problems. Some indications that someone is under the influence of alcohol are dilated pupils, poor judgment, sleepiness, staggered gait and slurred speech. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include tremors, anxiety, hallucinations, seizures and irregular heartbeat.


Marijuana is obtained from the plant Cannabis sativa and falls among the most widely used illegal drug in the world. It is also referred to as weed, herb, pot or grass and is administered orally or by smoking. The smoke of marijuana is irritating to the lungs and contains more carcinogenic chemicals than tobacco smoke. The effects of marijuana use include euphoria, wrong perception, loss of memory, increased appetite, pleasure, impaired muscle coordination and physical relaxation. Other indications of marijuana abuse are glassy red eyes, inappropriate laughter, and talking loudly.


Cocaine is also known as rock, snow, crack or coke and is derived from the coca plant. This drug has several means of administration namely: injection, smoking, snorting or just simple swallowing. Individuals in this form of substance abuse use cocaine with the purpose of obtaining pleasure and increased attentiveness. Cocaine is associated with detrimental effects such as paranoia, stroke, irregular heartbeat, heart damage, lung and kidney damage and even death. The withdrawal effects of cocaine include depression and reduced energy.


Heroin is also known by other street names such as horse and smack and is administered intravenously. This form of administration involves the use of syringes, which attracts other infections such as botulism and tetanus as a result of sharing the syringes. Heroin acts directly on the central nervous system causing effects such as slow breathing, sleepiness and pleasure.

An overdose of heroin can easily lead to death due to decreased breathing. Some indicators of heroin abuse include needle marks, sweating, contracted pupils, vomiting and lack of appetite. Withdrawal symptoms may include sweating, abdominal cramps, confusion, vomiting and diarrhea. Sadly, the use of heroin has been on a rise and new users particularly the youth are still being recruited into this form of substance abuse at a rampant rate.


Methamphetamine is also referred to as ice, crank, meth, crystal and speed, and falls among the most readily accessible and cheap drugs. It is a highly potent stimulant that produces effects of pleasure, increased alertness and decreased appetite. Methamphetamine’s form of administration is through smoking, snorting, injection or eating. Its detrimental effects include stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure. Withdrawal effects of methamphetamine cause abdominal cramps, increased appetite and depression. Other effects include paranoia, hallucinations, heart damage, loss of weight and teeth decay.


Morphine is a substance that is normally used for medical purposes—to relieve severe pain and suffering from an individual. Just like heroin, morphine acts directly on the central nervous system to relieve the pain. However, it poses a high likelihood of addiction and tolerance. After addiction, its withdrawal effects may include stroke, seizures, heart attacks, dehydration and suicidal tendencies.

To sum up, the list of substance abuse types is endless though some substances can be categorized into groups. For instance, other substances like opium, and sedative-hypnotic substances like Xanax and Valium can be collectively termed as depressants. Depressants generally have the effects of slowed central nervous system, diminished inhibitions, relaxation and reduced pain and suffering.

Abuse of these substances is linked with a high risk of overuse and addiction. Abuse of other substances like sedative-hypnotic drugs also contributes to harmful addiction. Finally, it is important to note that multiple combinations of substance abuse can be fatal. The pros due to the ecstasy of drug abuse cannot be compared with the cons of substance abuse. Everybody should therefore shun substance abuse for the good of everyone.

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