The NSDUH Report – Illegal and Prescription Drug Categories

Ron Kilgarlin

February 1, 2023

Cocaine is a stimulant that speeds up the brain’s workings and makes users feel euphoric. The NSDUH report includes information about the misuse of four prescription drug categories (pain relievers, tranquillizers, stimulants, and sedatives).

The NSDUH report also collects data on the other types of illicit drug use, including marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants.


Marijuana, also called weed, herb, pot, grass, and ganja, is the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plants. It contains the mind-altering compound THC and hundreds of other chemicals that may cause health effects.

Users smoke marijuana by hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs). They also use blunts–cigars hollowed out and refilled with marijuana.

Another popular way to consume marijuana is using vaporizers that pull THC from the plant and collect its vapour. Vaporizers can also mix marijuana with food (edibles), such as brownies, cookies, or candy. The NSDUH Report – Illegal and Prescription Drug Categories


It taps into the brain’s chemical reward system and causes high levels of dopamine to be released. Cocaine is a stimulant that speeds up the brain’s workings and makes users feel euphoric.

It comes in several forms, including powder cocaine and crack. It can be snorted, injected or rubbed into the gums.


Heroin is a highly addictive, street (illegal) drug made from the opium poppy. Pure heroin looks like a white powder and may be smoked or injected. The NSDUH Report – Illegal and Prescription Drug Categories

Users of pure heroin often report feeling a “rush” or euphoria followed by drowsiness. The drug also affects heart rhythm, breathing, and mood.

Heroin is a very powerful painkiller, and many people who use it become addicted to it. This can be very difficult to stop and lead to other problems such as HIV infection or hepatitis C.


Hallucinogens are drugs that alter your perception of reality. They can come from naturally occurring items like mushrooms or plants or be synthetically made.

Many people use hallucinogens to experience spirituality and creativity and even to deal with stress. However, their effects are often harmful and may lead to addiction.

Some of the most commonly used hallucinogens are LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), PCP and ecstasy. They affect the brain by changing how serotonin is processed and affecting different brain areas.


Inhalants are dangerous drugs that lead to serious health problems and death. These toxic substances produce chemical vapours that can be inhaled, giving the user a psychoactive high.

Inhales are the most common form of drug abuse among teenagers, but they are also common in older children and adults. 

Volatile solvents include paint thinner, gasoline, glues, degreasers and dry-cleaning fluid. Aerosols include spray paint, deodorant and hair spray. Gases include propane tanks, Freon, whipped cream canisters, butane lighters, nitrous oxide and ether. Nitrites include amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and room deodorizers.


Methamphetamine is a psychostimulant, often abused for the euphoric “high” it provides. It is illegal to use in the United States and is a Schedule II drug, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse.

Meth produces heightened alertness like cocaine and prescription stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin). Smoking, snorting or injecting meth creates a rush lasting 30 minutes to several hours.

Abusing meth can cause various problems, including irritability, fatigue, headaches, sleeplessness, aggression and cravings. Long-term abuse can lead to psychiatric disorders and addiction.