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Teen Talk: Common Drugs, Facts and Signs of Drug Abuse

Teenagers are using drugs at declining rates when compared to historical statistics. For young people, the use of illegal drugs other than marijuana is lower than it has been in more than 20 years. However, even with declining drug use, teenagers may still decide to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and it’s still a nationwide problem full of danger and harsh consequences.

Common Drugs

When teenagers choose to use drugs, they may be more likely to choose some of the more common drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, stimulants, and prescription drugs. Drugs such as heroin, opioids, MDMA, hallucinogens, K2, spice, DXM, and inhalants are also common. Teenagers might also drink alcohol.


Marijuana use among teenagers has declined according to current national statistics. Marijuana does have popularity, though, because it’s relatively easy to find and get. The perceived risk of using marijuana has also gone down, so teenagers may be more likely to feel safe to use this drug.


Statistically, teenagers are less likely to use cocaine than marijuana. This is probably due to the limited availability of the drug. Researchers have found that most teenagers disapprove of using cocaine, but it might be available in a party setting.


People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might be prescribed a stimulant to treat the condition. Abuse of these prescription stimulants is common among teenagers, and many teens seem to feel that this is a safe drug to take. Teenagers might also decide to use stimulants because they increase concentration.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs to alleviate pain are commonly abused by teenagers. One of the biggest dangers of prescription drugs is the potential to take them in combination with alcohol or other drugs.


These drugs are types of synthetic marijuana. At one time, synthetic marijuana was legal and available for online purchase. Despite the chemicals present in spice and K2 being illegal now, teenagers may be able to find these drugs.


Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription pain relievers, synthetic opioids, and heroin. These narcotics attach to opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body, blocking pain. These drugs are highly addictive.


The use of heroin among teenagers is declining, and most teenagers disapprove of the use of this drug. Those who do become addicted to heroin often start the downward spiral by abusing prescription drugs. When getting prescription drugs becomes too difficult or expensive, teens may turn to heroin as a substitute.


MDMA might also be called Molly or ecstasy. These drugs are commonly found at nightclubs and parties. They create a rush of euphoria when taken.


Hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD are not commonly used by teenagers. After taking a hallucinogen, users lose touch with reality and may become unaware of the things going on around them.


DXM cough syrup can produce a high, and teenagers might use this drug because it’s a legal drug and relatively inexpensive. Teenagers might experience delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia after taking DXM syrup.


Inhalants are drugs that are inhaled to produce intoxication. These chemicals contain strong fumes, and they are present in some household products such as nail polish remover, glue, and gasoline. Teens can access inhalants quite easily, and they are inexpensive. However, they are also very addictive and dangerous.


Alcohol is a depressant drug that distorts judgment and relaxes the central nervous system. Drinking too much alcohol reduces inhibitions, causes unsteady movements and depresses the body.

Why Do Teens Try and Use Drugs?

Teens use drugs for various reasons, including peer pressure and just to experiment. Teenagers who struggle with anxiety or depression may be more likely to try drugs because they can temporarily alleviate stress. Some teenagers are just searching for happiness and pleasure, and they turn to drugs to satisfy this desire.

Signs Teens Are Using Drugs

When teenagers are using drugs, signs are usually evident. Parents may observe strange laughing, bloodshot eyes, excessive hunger, avoiding eye contact, unusual tiredness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, lowered grades, poor hygiene and personal appearance, secretive behavior, curfew violations, and the smell of smoke on clothing or breath.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Drugs

Talking about drugs should start when kids are very young, so they understand the dangers and addiction. Discuss all types of drugs, their dangers and risks, and how to use some drugs such as prescription drugs responsibly. Avoid scaring kids, but do emphasize how dangerous and serious drug use and abuse is. Institute firm rules about drugs and alcohol, establish expectations and keep lines of communication open as kids get older.

Ways to Get Your Teen Help

If drug use or abuse is suspected, get help for your teenager quickly. Stay calm, but step in to get professional assessments and treatment when you sense a problem. Start by seeing a family practitioner, and ask for a referral for help with substance abuse, if necessary. Treatment for addiction usually involves a detoxification period, counseling, and planning for the future to avoid relapses.

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