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Top 10 Drugs Abused by Teens

Teen drug abuse

Question: How are heroin, PCP, and methamphetamine alike?

Answer: None of them are among the most frequently-abused substances by American teens.

That is the good news. The bad news is that adolescents are still turning to illicit drugs in substantial numbers.

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health as compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, here are the top ten most commonly abused drugs by youths between the ages of 12 and 17. The percentages accompanying each entry reflect the proportion of survey respondents who admitted to consuming that drug within the previous month.

10. Sedatives (.1%)

Types: Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, Restoril, Seconal

Signs and symptoms: dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness long after awakening, nausea, vomiting, sleepwalking, short-term memory loss, coordination problems.

9. Cocaine (.1%)

Types: powdered form (which is snorted), freebase form (which is smoked), crack cocaine (which is processed from powdered into freebase form)

Signs and symptoms: a constant runny nose and sniffling, nosebleeds, dilated pupils, poor judgment, overconfidence, an unusual level of excitement, paranoia, aggressiveness. After the high ends: depression, agitation, apathy, extreme exhaustion, extra-long periods of sleep.

8. LSD (.2%)

Other names: white lightning, battery acid, Superman, back breaker, Elvis, loony tunes, acid

Signs and symptoms: hallucinations and delusions, dry mouth, heavy salivation, dilated pupils, tingling in toes or fingers, weakness, excessive sweating, chills, nausea, dizziness, paranoia, rapid heart rate, convulsions. After the high ends: anxiety, depression, disorientation, emotional distress.

7. Stimulants (.4%)

Types: Adderall, Ritalin, Provigil, Dexedrine, Vyvanse, Metadate, Focalin, Daytrana, Concerta, Didrex, Tenuate

Signs and symptoms: loss of appetite, near-manic energy levels, lack of a need to sleep, elevated body temperature, irregular heartbeat, irritability, paranoia, seizures.

6. Other hallucinogens (.5%)

Types: Ecstasy/Molly/MDMA, ketamine/Special K, DMT, AMT, Foxy, salvia, mescaline, peyote, mushrooms

Signs and symptoms: elevated body temperature, poor judgment, compromised coordination, nausea, anxiety, extreme paranoia, psychosis-like symptoms. After the high ends: depression, emotional distress.

5. Tranquilizers (.5%)

Types: Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, Flexeril, Soma, Versed, Librium

Signs and symptoms: confusion, lowered inhibitions, increase in drowsiness, severely-reduced physical tension, loss of coordination, memory lapses, slowed breathing, slowed pulse.

Teen drug abuse

4. Inhalants (.6%)

Types: glue, paint, hairspray, gasoline, paint, paint thinner, nail polish remover, computer cleaner, whipped cream aerosols

Signs and symptoms: dizziness, loss of coordination, confusion, muscle weakness, chronic pain.

3. Opioids (1%)

Types: fentanyl (Fentora, Duragesic, Actiq), hydrocodone (Zohydro, Hysingla), hydrocodone plus acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, Lorcet), hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo), oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone), oxycodone plus acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet), Demerol, generic versions of all of these

Signs and symptoms: unusual elation, excessive drowsiness, intermittent nodding off, confusion, constricted pupils, excessive constipation, slowed breathing.

2. Unprescribed Pain Relievers (1%)

Types: morphine, Percodan, Ultram, Ultracet, Darvocet, Tylenol with codeine, Avinza, Kadian, Suboxone, Opana

Signs and symptoms: withdrawing from social interactions, apathy, depression, mood swings, anxiety, excessive constipation, drowsiness, loss of concentration, poor memory, slowed movements, slower reaction times, slowed breathing.

1. Marijuana (6.5%)

Types: Sativa, Indica, Hybrid. Consumption methods: smoking directly, smoking with pipes or bongs, vaporizers, liquid extract, ingestible oils, edible or drinkable substances.

Signs and symptoms: impaired coordination, learning problems, loss of memory, poor judgment, reduced decision-making capabilities, respiratory problems. After the high ends: irritability, interrupted sleep patterns, anxiety, altered eating patterns.

If you think that your teenager is abusing these or other types of illicit drugs, do not sit idly by hoping that the issue will resolve itself. Confront the teen, try to determine which drugs are being abused, and consider contacting a substance abuse treatment center specifically designed for teens to address the problem. The last thing you want is for your teen drug abuser to become an adult addict.

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