Anticipatory Guidance

Illegal Drugs

Monitoring the Future Study
(University of Michigan Institute for Social Research)

  • Studied drug abuse among teens since 1975
  • Study is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH)
  • There was an overall increase in substance abuse among adolescents in the 1990's, although there has been a stabilization and even decline in illicit drug use in the past 1-2 years. It is hoped that this recent downward trend will continue.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly advocated the need for health care professionals to participate in the promotion of substance abuse prevention among children and adolescents. In order to do this, it is vital that health care providers have a basic understanding of common illicit drugs; including but not limited to, their definitions, street names, signs/symptoms of usage, and common side effects.
  • CLICK HERE for link to the audio recording from Monitoring the Future - a teleconference that tracks annual drug absue trends of 8th, 10th and 12th graders




Substance use: occasional use of substance or alcohol without tolerance or symptoms of withdrawal

Substance Abuse: persistent and continued use of substances accompanied by social, physical, and/or psychological problems that are related to use of the substance(s)

Substance Dependence: characterized by at least 3 of the following:

  • Substance used in larger & larger amounts over longer periods of time than initially intended
  • Strong, persistent desire or craving of the substance with unsuccessful attempts to control or modify use of substance
  • Increasingly larger periods of time utilized in obtaining the substance; using the substance; or recovering from the effects of the substance
  • Missed obligations due to intoxication or detoxification periods related to use of the substance
  • Persistent and continued use of substance in the context of social, physical, and/or psychological problems related to use of the substance
  • Development of tolerance to the substance
  • Symptoms of withdrawal when not using the substance
  • Substance needed to relieve symptoms of withdrawal

Addiction: chronic, relapsing use of substance in an uncontrollable, compulsive manner characterized by tolerance, withdrawal, and cravings: namely, person develops increased need for the substance; person may be plagued by intense symptoms associated with not taking the substance; person becomes willing to sacrifice many or all aspects of his/her life to obtain the substance along with compulsive utilization of the substance&

Common illicit drugs used by adolescents and young adults:


  • A.K.A.: Pot/Weed/Herb/Green/Mary Jane/MJ/Joints/Bong Toke/Reefer
  • Derived from cannabis plant; main active chemical: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • Effects: apathy; lethargy; poor concentration and memory; "amotivational syndrome" with passivity & decreased motivation; altered perceptions of time and space; possible hallucinations; anxiety; panic attacks
  • Not proven to be physically addictive and not associated with withdrawal symptoms
  • Psychological dependence


  • A.K.A. (depending on form): Coke/Blow/Powder/Sugar/Nose Candy/Rock/Crack/Base
  • Blocks reuptake of dopamine causing increased amounts of dopamine in synaptic clefts
  • Effects: hypervigilance; excitability; hostility/irritability; withdrawn behavior; impaired psychomotor coordination; erratic behavior; aggressiveness; impaired judgment; impaired fine motor skills; impaired spatial distance perception
  • Highly addictive


  • A.K.A.: acid/beast/blue cheer/blue heaven/dot/Lucy in the sky with diamonds/sid
  • Odorless, colorless, tasteless hallucinogen
  • Greatly modifies neurochemical brain activity without actually stimulating or depressing CNS
  • Effects: delusions; hallucinations; odd sensations & feelings; sensory distortion; impaired temporal spatial perception; excitability; bizarre/mythical/magical ideation; impaired memory
  • Severe flashbacks with visual and/or auditory hallucinations
  • Psychological dependence with very high tolerance


  • MDMA=methylenedioxymethampthetamine
  • A.K.A.: XTC; wonder drug; Adam; Eve; B bombs; E bombs; blue lips; blue kisses; crystal; X pills; X; doctor; drivers; essence; Egyptians; happy pills; love drug; love biscuits; Scooby snacks; rave energy; ritual spirit; tweety birds; ultimate Xphoria�
  • Synthetic, psychoactive drug with hallucinogenic and amphetamine-like properties
  • Effects: initial euphoria; carefree feeling; disinhibiting; confusion; severe depression; anxiety; paranoia; psychosis; teeth clenching; nausea; faintness
  • May destroy neurons that release serotonin and dopamine


  • A.K.A.: smack; skag; elephant; stuff; tiger; H; hache; H caps; Harry; junk
  • Opiate: depresses CNS
  • Derived from morphine which comes from the poppy plant
  • Effects: euphoria followed by feeling of heaviness/drowsiness; sedation @ higher doses; respiratory depression; relaxing detachment; flushing of skin; dry mouth; associated with infections from IVDU (HIV/hepatitis/endocarditis/cellulitis/abscesses)
  • Physical dependence: positive pleasure replaced by the needed fix
  • Only takes few weeks to develop dependence


  • Solvents:
    • Industrial or household solvents or solvent-containing products: paint thinners; degreasers (dry-cleaning fluids); gasoline; glue
    • Art or office supply solvents: correction fluids; felt-tip-marker fluid; electronic contact cleaners
  • Gases:
    • Household or commercial gas: butane lighters and propane tanks; whipping cream aerosols; refrigerant gases
    • Household aerosol propellants and solvents: spray paints; hair or deodorant sprays; fabric protector sprays
    • Medical anesthetic gas: ether; chloroform; halothane; nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • Nitrites
    • Aliphatic nitrites: cyclohexyl nitrite; amyl nitrite; butyl nitrite
  • Effects: stimulant-like intoxication; slowing of bodily functions; disinhibitions; loss of consciousness; hearing loss; heart failure; brain damage; bone marrow damage; liver toxicity; renal toxicity; respiratory failure; death
  • Breathable chemical vapors that produce psychoactive effects
  • Likely to be abused by young people because easily accessible and inexpensive


  • Ketamine Hydrochloride
  • A.K.A.: Vitamin K; new ecstasy; Super K; psychedelic heroin; K hole
  • Effects: euphoria; vivid hallucinations; impaired motor function; delirium; amnesia; respiratory failure
  • Usually snorted
  • Often mixed with other drugs such as ecstasy; heroin; cocaine
  • Medical use as anesthetic since 1970's


  • A.K.A.: date rape drug
  • Sedative-hypnotic effects: muscle relaxation; amnesia
  • Effects: victims become incapacitated; easily become extremely disinhibited
  • Often mixed in alcoholic beverage of unsuspecting victim
  • Associated with withdrawal seizures


  • A.K.A.: speed; chalk; meth / meth hydrochloride: crystal; crank; ice; glass; cristy
  • Causes the release of increased levels of dopamine
  • Effects: rush; high; enhanced body motion; enhanced mood; insomnia; decreased appetite; euphoria; anxiety; paranoia; tremors; confusion; aggressive behavior; stroke; cardiovascular collapse; death
  • Addiction can occur quickly
  • Taken by snorting, injection, smoked, oral