What are prescription CNS depressants?

Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants are medicines that include sedatives, tranquilizers, and hypnotics. These drugs can slow brain activity, making them useful for treating anxiety, panic, acute stress reactions, and sleep disorders.

CNS depressants cause drowsiness; sedatives are often prescribed to treat sleep disorders like insomnia and hypnotics can induce sleep, whereas tranquilizers are prescribed to treat anxiety or to relieve muscle spasms.

Learn more about CNS depressants here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What are hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that alter a person’s awareness of their surroundings as well as their own thoughts and feelings. They are commonly split into two categories: classic hallucinogens (such as LSD) and dissociative drugs (such as PCP). Both types of hallucinogens can cause hallucinations, or sensations and images that seem real though they are not. Additionally, dissociative drugs can cause users to feel out of control or disconnected from their body and environment.

Some hallucinogens are extracted from plants or mushrooms, and some are synthetic (human-made). Historically, people have used hallucinogens for religious or healing rituals. More recently, people report using these drugs for social or recreational purposes, including to have fun, deal with stress, have spiritual experiences, or just to feel different.

Learn more about hallucinogens here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What is medical marijuana?

The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.

However, scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.

Because the marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms, many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes. In fact, a growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use.

Learn more about medical marijuana here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Marijuana Concentrates

Cannabis plants are covered by microscopic, mushroom-shaped, hair-like compounds called trichomes. These outgrowths surround the budding marijuana flower and produce the plant’s cannabinoids. Different varieties of trichomes can be collected. The resulting products—collectively called cannabis concentrates—can contain very high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, the psychotropic ingredient in marijuana. These THC-rich marijuana products may be vaporized and inhaled using a vape pen or through a process called dabbing.

Learn more about Marijuana Concentrates here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What is MDMA?

3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.

MDMA was initially popular in the nightclub scene and at all-night dance parties (“raves”), but the drug now affects a broader range of people who more commonly call the drug Ecstasy or Molly. 

Learn more about MDMA here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What’s the relationship between drug use and viral infections?

People who engage in drug use or high-risk behaviors associated with drug use put themselves at risk for contracting or transmitting viral infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), or hepatitis. This is because viruses spread through blood or other body fluids. It happens primarily in two ways: (1) when people inject drugs and share needles or other drug equipment and (2) when drugs impair judgment and people have unprotected sex with an infected partner. This can happen with both men and women.

Drug use and addiction have been inseparably linked with HIV/AIDS since AIDS was first identified as a disease. According to the CDC, one in 10 HIV diagnoses occur among people who inject drugs.1 In 2016, injection drug use (IDU) contributed to nearly 20 percent of recorded HIV cases among men—more than 150,000 patients. Among females, 21 percent (about 50,000) of HIV cases were attributed to IDU.2 Additionally, women who become infected with a virus can pass it to their baby during pregnancy, regardless of their drug use. They can also pass HIV to the baby through breastmilk.

Learn more here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Prescription Opioids

What are prescription opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some prescription opioids are made from the plant directly, and others are made by scientists in labs using the same chemical structure. Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain. Prescription opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain, though some opioids can be used to treat coughing and diarrhea. Opioids can also make people feel very relaxed and “high” – which is why they are sometimes used for non-medical reasons. This can be dangerous because opioids can be highly addictive, and overdoses and death are common. Heroin is one of the world’s most dangerous opioids, and is never used as a medicine in the United States.

Popular slang terms for opioids include Oxy, Percs, and Vikes.

Learn more about prescription opioids here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant.

Marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States, after alcohol.1 Its use is widespread among young people. In 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults used marijuana in the past year. According to the Monitoring the Future survey, rates of past year marijuana use among middle and high school students have remained steady, but the number of teens in 8th and 10th grades who say they use it daily has increased. With the growing popularity of vaping devices, teens have started vaping THC (the ingredient in marijuana that produces the high), with nearly 4% of 12th graders saying they vape THC daily. In addition, the number of young people who believe regular marijuana use is risky is decreasing.

Learn more about marijuana here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Kratom

What is kratom?

Kratom is a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain compounds that can have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects.

Kratom is not currently an illegal substance and has been easy to order on the internet. It is sometimes sold as a green powder in packets labeled “not for human consumption.” It is also sometimes sold as an extract or gum.

Kratom sometimes goes by the following names:

  • Biak
  • Ketum
  • Kakuam
  • Ithang
  • Thom

Learn more about kratom here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

over-the-counter (OTC) medicines

What are over-the-counter (OTC) medicines?

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are those that can be sold directly to people without a prescription. OTC medicines treat a variety of illnesses and their symptoms including pain, coughs and colds, diarrhea, constipation, acne, and others. Some OTC medicines have active ingredients with the potential for misuse at higher-than-recommended dosages.

Learn more about OTC medicines here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.