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Commonly Abused Drugs



• Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependency and two and a half times more likely to become abuser of alcohol
• Alcohol is a major factor in all three leading causes of death among youth: unintentional injuries (including motor vehicle crashes and drowning), suicide, and homicide.

General Information:
• The Social Host Bill went into effect on July 1, 2011, making it illegal for an adult to knowingly allow an underage drinking party to take place on their private property.  Consequences include a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and/or 90 days of jail time.  Adults who allow the drinking may be held civilly liable and could be responsible for medical bills, property damage or have to pay damages for pain and emotional suffering.
• Underage drinking is not only dangerous because of the risk associated with injury, death and drinking and driving, but because of its affects on the developing brain.  Drinking can cause irreparable brain damage leading to increased risk for addiction, memory loss, problems with decision-making, learning, and social situations.


General information:
• Alcoholic energy drinks and alcohol mixed with energy drinks is not a good idea.  The combination of alcohol and caffeine (one a depressant, the other a stimulant) sends the brain two different messages leading to what is known as a "wide awake drunk" where someone does not realize they are drunk or may not feel the full effects of the alcohol (due to the caffeine) even when they could be severely intoxicated.
• Use of alcoholic energy drinks has also been linked to the subsequent use of prescription painkillers and analgesics among college students.
• Because of their sweet flavor, most alcoholic energy drinks are associated with binge drinking.
• Alcoholic energy drinks actually sell for less than energy drinks that do not contain alcohol.

• Cigarettes contain more than 7,000 harmful chemicals, including some found in rat poison, paint thinner, moth balls, fingernail polish remover, lighter fluid and carbon monoxide. In fact, at least 69 are known to be cancer-causing chemicals.
• Studies have found nicotine to be addictive in ways similar to those of heroin, cocaine, and alcohol.
• Teens who smoke produce twice the phlegm as those who do not.
• The addictive drug in all tobacco products is nicotine.
• One pure drop of nicotine will kill an average size adult.

• Spit tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
• Spit tobacco has over 3,000 harmful chemicals; 30 of which are cancer-causing.
• A 30 minute dip is equal to the damage of 3-4 cigarettes.

• Secondhand smoke (smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, smokingjpegcigar, or pipe, and the smoke exhaled by a smoker) causes coughing, colds, earaches, and worsens asthma.
• Secondhand smoke has over 50 cancer-causing carcinogens.
• There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
• Sitting in a smoke-filled environment for two hours is the equivalent of smoking four cigarettes.
• Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
• Riding in the car with someone smoking is equal to the damage of four cigarettes.

• Cigar smoking is the second most common form of tobacco use among youth.
• Like cigarettes, cigars are smoked and contain the same toxic and carcinogenic compounds.
• Cigar smokers can spend up to an hour smoking a single cigar, often consuming as much tobacco as in a full pack of cigarettes.
• Secondhand cigar smoke is often even more harmful and deadly than secondhand cigarette smoke.
• Bidis (a small, thin, hand-rolled cigarette) smoking increases the risk of oral, lung, stomach, and esophageal cancer.
• Kreteks (sometimes referred to as clove cigarettes) are associated with an increased risk of serious lung injury.
• Bidis and kreteks have more nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide than cigarettes.

National Tobacco Statistics:
• Every 6.5 seconds someone in the world dies of a tobacco-related disease.
• Tobacco kills more people each year than suicides, murders, AIDS, alcohol, drugs and car accidents COMBINED.
• Cigarette smoking accounts for approximately one out of five deaths each year.
• About 50,000 non-smokers in the U.S. die each year as  a result of secondhand smoke. S
• In the United States, 1,170 people die from smoking each day.
• This year, tobacco companies will spend $12.8 billion on ads and promotions nationally trying to get people to smoke.

Mississippi Tobacco Statistics:
• 4,700 Mississippi deaths result each year from smoking
• About 550 non smokers die each year in Mississippi from exposure to secondhand smoke.
• Annual healthcare costs in Mississippi directly caused by smoking are $719 million.
• In Mississippi alone, tobacco companies spend $185.5 million on ads and promotions each year trying to get people to smoke.


• Marijuana is more potent than ever- 60% of teens who require emergency treatment due to substance use, marijuana dependency is a factor
• Marijuana is second to alcohol as the most frequently detected substance among impaired drivers involved in accidents
• Heavy marijuana use causes reduced cognitive effects later in life (damage to hippocampus)
• Marijuana contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer causing chemicals than tobacco
• Marijuana disrupts blood flow in the brain leading to decreased activity in parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory, motivation, and temper control.

The Gateway connection:
• Most teens who use marijuana, drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes first
• Teens who use marijuana are more likely than teen who don’t to use cocaine
• 90% of cocaine users smoked marijuana first
• When you use drugs, the body craves more drugs, over time, it craves larger doses, and more intense drugs
• 1 in 11 people who use marijuana become addicted


• After alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, inhalants are the most commonly usedinhalant-2 drug among Mississippi students.
• 1 in 5 school-age children in the United States have tried inhalants.
• Inhalant abuse usually begins at age 10 or 11, though children as young as 6 have been known to use inhalants.

General information:
• Inhalant abuse is the deliberate inhaling or sniffing of common products such as gasoline, spray paint, and computer keyboard cleaner, to get high.
• Inhalants are not generally recognized as substance abuse like marijuana or meth, but they are just as dangerous.  Inhalants are toxins and poisons.
• Common inhalants include: computer keyboard cleaner (known as “dusting”), nail polish, glue, paint thinner, spray paint, cooking spray, helium balloons, and whipped cream (“whippets”) (Some stores may require a buyer to be 18 in order to purchase canned keyboard cleaner/spray but this is not required by law)
• Kids think they are getting high but the dizzy, fuzzy feeling is actually the brain not getting oxygen. Basically the brain thinks it is drowning.  Using these substances can cause brain damage or the child can stop breathing, have a heart attack, or die.

Signs and Symptoms of inhalant use:
Chemical odor on skin, breath, or clothing, slurred speech, lack of coordination (staggering, stumbling, falling over), stains on face or hands, confusion, mood swings, glassy, red, or watery eyes


General information:
• Many youth mistakenly believe these drugs are safe because of how easily accessible they are and because they are prescribed by doctors and approved by the FDA, plus their parents use them. 7.3 million agree there’s “nothing wrong” with using prescription drugs without a prescription
• Most young people get prescription drugs right from their own homes or from their friends, for free.
• The most commonly abused prescription drugs are pain killers, depressants and stimulants.
• Pain killers like Oxycontin, Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Percocet are the favorites. But they are followed closely by stimulants like Adderal and Ritalin
• When it comes to painkillers, like Oxycontin, which is derived from opiates, the brain doesn’t know if the high came from heroin or an opiate pill.
• Rx drugs are addictive. They can cause cardiovascular problems, respiratory distress, stroke, seizures, increased body temperature, stroke, and death.
• Another common risk associated with prescription drug abuse is called “climbing the ladder.” It involves a child who begins experimenting with prescription pain killers. When the desire for pain killers increases, the habit becomes more expensive. Per dose, prescription drugs are much more expensive than illicit drugs. In an effort to satisfy the crave less expensively, the user turns to narcotic drugs like heroin

• There is an estimated 6.4 million (2.6 percent) persons aged 12 or older who use prescription drugs non-medically
• More young people, ages 12-17, abuse Rx drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana-more than heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine combined.
• Teens who first abuse prescription drugs before age 16 also have a greater risk of drug dependence or abuse later in life.
• In 2006, prescription painkillers caused more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
• Mixing pills with alcohol and other drugs increases the risk of overdose and death.


General information:
• The most commonly abused OTC drug is Dextromethorphan or DXM which is the active ingredient in over 140 cough and cold medicines including Robotussin, Coricidin. Vicks, Alka Seltzer, Mucinex, Dimatapp and many others.
• In large doses, the effects of DXM are similar to opiates and have been compared to having the same effects on the body as Ketamine (animal tranquilizer) and PCP.
• Slang: Cough medicine: Triple Cs, Dex,  Robotripping, lean, syrup, AC/DC, barr, down, karo, nods, candy, DM, poor man’s PCP, red devils, skittles,robo, tussin, Vitamin D, velvet, drex,  SIZ'zurp, purple Drank
• High causes feelings of intoxication, sense of numbness from inside out, mild toOTC-Cough-Syrup-DXM intense hallucinations involving flashing effects, sensations of unreality or disconnection from the real world
• May cause tremors, loss of consciousness, brain damage, coma, seizures, cerebral hemorrhage, brain damage, death

• Approximately 1 in 11 teens have abused OTC drugs
• In 2006, about 3.1 million people ages 12-25 had used an over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to get high.
• 75% of DXM abusers are between the ages of 9 and 17 years old



General information:
• Spice or K2 is synthetic marijuana.  The chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana mimic the effects of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) causing a marijuana-like high.
• Synthetic marijuana was most recently made illegal by the DEA.  Before that, they were easily purchased at head shops, smoke shops, on the internet, and at other retail outlets.
• The products have been sold under various names such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” and are labeled as herbal incense.
• Only certain chemicals in synthetic marijuana were made illegal, therefore, just by changing the chemical composition, other forms of synthetic marijuana can still be manufactured and sold.


General information:
• Marketed as “bath salts” or “plant feeder,” synthetic cocaine is available in retail shops, smoke shops, convenience stores, and on the Internet
• Sold under the names “Ivory Wave,” “White Lightening” and “Hurricane Charlie.”
• They are not the same as the bath salts used when soaking in the tub!
• Bath salts/synthetic cocaine has similar effects of methamphetamine. The powders often contain mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV, both drugs are related to khat, an organic stimulant found in Arab and East African countries that is illegal in the United States
• May cause hallucinations, severe paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal bathsaltsthoughts.
• Several incidents have been reported where users have jumped into oncoming traffic, scratched themselves “to pieces,” slashed their throats or shot themselves while under the influence of the so-called bath salts. 
• These drugs produce a horrible trip, cause an intense craving, causing users to binge on them over and over again.

• A club drug, Trifluoromethylphenyl piperazine or TFMPP, is a potent central mollynervous system stimulant with effects similar to those of Ecstasy.
• Like most stimulants, the effects of Molly include increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Higher doses produce hallucinogenic effects. The high is described as a euphoric state with elevated mood and a “oneness” with the environment
• Brain injury can occur after a single use, with prolonged users reporting substantial cognitive impairment.

• Not an actual substance, but a method young people are using to get high, the choking game is the use of belts, ropes hands or other items to purposefully suffocate oneself. The act of suffocation produces a lightheaded feeling.
• The person is actually cutting of oxygen to their brain and killing brain cells in the process. 
• Increasingly being played alone, the game can turn deadly quite quickly. The object of the game is to stop right before you pass out.  However, many kids end up passing out and when they do, there is no one to save them and they suffocate to death.
• Kids who die from playing the choking game may be mistakenly thought to have completed suicide.


Vodka eyeballing is the alleged practice of taking a shot of vodka and attempting to consume it by pouring it into the eyeball.  This practice can cause severe damage to the eye. 

Vodka tampons is the alleged practice of soaking a tampon in vodka and inserting it into the vagina or rectum.  The alcohol is undetectable by a breath tests but delivers the alcohol through the blood system without detection.

There is a belief that licking the backs of these poisonous toads produces hallucinations although the venom is poisonous and can kill someone. 

An urban legend or hoax, this is the alleged process of taking human feces, placing them in a jar or bottle and then placing a plastic storage bag or balloon over the bottle or jar opening and placing it in the sun.  The gases produced by the feces are then huffed from the bag or balloon once it fills up with the gas.  The user is said to experience hallucinations, feeling “out of it” or seeing dead people.

Updated 10/10/11 by Rachel Deer for general use.

Shatter the Myths: Drug Facts
Find answers to some of the most asked questions about drugs and drug use. This booklet is a must have resource.