Drug Abuse Problems / Questions  
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Does this describe your symptoms?

  • Known or suspected drug abuse
  • Questions or concerns related to drug intoxication, dependence, abuse, or use

General Information

  • Chemical dependency/addiction is a disease and can be treated. Medical detox followed by 12 step/educational services can be successful in helping a patient to recover.
  • Addiction can occur to legal/prescription drugs.

Common Illegal Drugs of Abuse, their 'Street Names' and Routes of Use:

  • Cocaine (coke, crack, rock) - inject/smoke/snort
  • Heroin (smack, horse, junk) - inject/smoke/snort
  • LSD (acid, microdot, blotter) - ingest
  • Marijuana (grass, pot, reefer, weed, blunts) - smoke/ingest
  • Methamphetamine (crank, crystal, ice, glass, meth) - inject/smoke/ingest/snort
  • PCP/phencyclidine (angel dust, embalming fluid, rocket fuel) - inject/ingest/smoke
  • For a comprehensive listing of over 2000 street drug names, see: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/streetterms/default.asp

Types of Drugs

  • Anabolic Steroids - These drugs are related to male sex hormones. They are abused to enhance athletic performance, strength or physical appearance. They may cause strange behavior, delusions, hallucinations or over-aggressiveness ("steroid rage").
  • Club Drugs - These drugs are very popular in the dance-club setting and among young adults. The most well-known one is Ecstasy (MDMA), a designer amphetamine. It is a stimulant and a hallucinogen. Users describe initial anxiety and nausea, followed by relaxation and euphoria. Abuse of this drug can lead to death associated with hyperthermia (over-heating).
  • Dextromethorphan - Dextromethorphan (DM) is present in over-the-counter cough medicines. It can cause a LSD-like picture (i.e., visual hallucinations, confusion, agitation and excitation). Abuse can also lead to coma and death.
  • Hallucinogens (e.g., LSD, mescaline) - This group of drugs can cause visual hallucinations, perceptual alterations and a dream-like state.
  • Inhalants - Vapors of various household products are inhaled by some people because of their mind-altering effects. Users may experience giddiness or euphoria. Abuse can also cause unconsciousness and rarely may cause sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias. Examples of inhalants are toluene (Glue), gasoline, butane, trichloroethane (typewriter correction fluid), and air freshener.
  • Marijuana - Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug. Marijuana sold on the streets today is much stronger than it was in the 1960's/1970's. Marijuana causes euphoria and in higher concentrations can be associated with paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.
  • Narcotics - Narcotics are addictive and are also referred to as opiates. Examples include heroin, morphine, codeine, pentazocine, and methadone. Narcotics cause sedation and euphoria. Overdose can cause breathing to slow or stop, coma, and death. Withdrawal from opiates is not life-threatening. However, the withdrawal symptoms are extremely uncomfortable (i.e., yawning, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps)
  • Sedative-Hypnotics - Abuse of these drugs can cause sedation, drowsiness and euphoria. Overdose can lead to coma and death. Examples of drugs in this group are barbiturates, benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium), and tranquilizers.
  • Stimulants - Examples include cocaine, crack cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine. These drugs cause hyper-alertness, stimulation, restlessness and euphoria. They can also cause stroke, coma, arrhythmias, and death.

Additional Resources

  1. Narcotics Anonymous:
    • Narcotics Anonymous is "a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem . . . who meet regularly to help each other stay clean... We are not interested in what or how much you used . . . but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help."
    • Membership is open to any drug addict, regardless of the particular drug or combination of drugs used. Chapters of Narcotics Anonymous are present in every state in the United States and in many countries of the world. Each has a local contact phone number.
    • http://www.na.org/
  2. SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
  3. SAMHSA'S Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
  4. A comprehensive listing of over 2000 street drug names
  5. Information on common drugs of abuse from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

If not, see these topics

When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (you may need an ambulance) If
  • Unconscious (e.g., not moving, not talking, not responding to stimulation)
  • Difficult to awaken or acting very confused
  • Seeing or hearing or feeling things that are not there (i.e., hallucinations)
  • Seizure
  • Slow, shallow and weak breathing
  • Attempted suicide or threatening suicide
  • Violent behavior or threatening to kill someone
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • Strange, bizarre, or confused behavior
  • Fever and injects drugs
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think you need to be seen
  • You think you need to be admitted to a hospital for drug abuse
  • You want to talk with a counselor (substance abuse counselor, mental health worker, etc.)
  • Pregnant
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Drug abuse is interfering with work or school
Self Care at Home If
  • General questions about drug problems

  1. United States - CSAT National Helpline:
    • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)
    • The CSAT Helpline is a great resource for locating community drug and alcohol treatment programs.
    • National toll-free phone number: 800-662-HELP.
  2. United States - Alcohol and Drug Helpline:
    • National toll-free number - 800-821-4357. Available 24 hours a day.
    • Referrals to local alcohol and drug-dependency units and self-help groups.
  3. Canada - Hotlines and Helplines:
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have questions about drug problems
    • You become worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Author and Senior Reviewer: David A. Thompson, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011

Last Revised: 1/22/2012

Content Set: Adult HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions LLC; LMS, Inc.