Common Recreational Drugs

Here are some of the most commonly used recreational drugs. Prescription medications and synthetics are also rising in popularity, which may prove more harmful than traditional recreational drugs.

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Common Recreational Drugs

Here are some of the most commonly used recreational drugs. Prescription medications and synthetics are also rising in popularity, which may prove more harmful than traditional recreational drugs.

In America, legal drugs (tobacco, alcohol, and, in some states, marijuana), have the highest recreational use, but Americans also partake in plenty of illegal substances as well. Today, many Americans also experiment with using certain prescription medications for recreational reasons.

According to a 2015 survey, one in five people over the age of 12 had used marijuana. Since that time, it is likely the number is much higher as more and more states have legalized marijuana use, both medically, and recreationally.

In that same survey, drugs determined to have no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse under DEA rules (known as Schedule I drugs) had a recreational use rate of less than one percent of the population. Schedule I drugs, under federal guidelines are drugs like heroin, ecstasy, methaqualone, peyote, marijuana, and LSD.

Most Commonly Used Recreational Drugs in the U.S.

The most commonly used drugs in the United States, along with their common street names (from most used, to least used) are:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Tobacco
  3. Marijuana (Maryjane, weed, pot, reefer, hash)
  4. Vicodin (bananas, fluff, hydro, Vike)
  5. Adderall (addies, dexies)
  6. Cocaine (blow, coke, crack, dust, white star, Snow White)
  7. Oxycodone (blue, Hillbilly Heroin, kickers, killers)
  8. Xanax (bars, benzos, bricks)
  9. MDMA (Molly, Mandy, Scooby Snacks)
  10. LSD (acid, dots, tabs, Lucy)
  11. Tramadol (trammies, chill pills)
  12. Methamphetamine (meth, ice, crank, speed)
  13. Ritalin (smarties, kibble & bits)
  14. Klonopin (tranks, pin, super Valium)
  15. Valium (eggs, jellies, vallies)
  16. Ambien (Mexican valium, roofies)
  17. Heroin (black tar, brown sugar, China white, smack, dragon)
  18. Buprenorphine (buse, sobos, strips)
  19. Morphine (monkey, M, dreamer)
  20. Ativan (Addie)
  21. Methadone (dolls, red rock, mud)
  22. Soma (da, dance, or Soma Coma when combined with codeine)
  23. DMT (Dmitri, fantasia)
  24. Oxymorphone (biscuits, blue heaven)
  25. Ketamine (K, Kit Kat, super Valium)

Recreational Drug Shift from Illicit Substances to Prescription Medications

Recreational drug use has shifted from primarily illicit substances to more and prescription medications (the opioid crisis began with prescription painkillers). There can be significant neurological complications from both illicit and prescription medications, including disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system.

These complications can range from mild agitation to life-threatening intracerebral hemorrhage. Chronic abuse of some of these substances can lead to long-term neurological and psychiatric problems. New substances are constantly emerging, plus many of the above drugs are used in combination with one another, significantly increasing the likelihood of overdose, or even death.

Examples of Illicit Drugs That Once Had Very Different Uses

Some of the illicit drugs used today originally had “medicinal” uses. As an example, amphetamine became popular in the 1920s, where it was used for raising blood pressure, enlarging the nasal passages, and stimulating the central nervous system. Abuse of the drug began in the 1930s when it was sold as an over-the-counter inhaler under the name Benzedrine. During World War II, Benzedrine was given to soldiers to improve their endurance levels and mood, and to counter combat fatigue. After the war, amphetamines were used to treat depression.

Cocaine came from the South American coca plants. In 1883, a German army physician prescribed cocaine to Bavarian soldiers to help reduce their battle fatigue. When Coca-Cola was first marketed in 1886, it contained a syrup made from African kola nuts and coca leaves. By 1902, there were beginning to be an alarming number of cocaine addicts in the U.S., with coca leaf imports at an all time high. Cocaine use was outlawed in the U.S. in 1914, although the drug was viewed as relatively harmless until the 1985 emergence of crack.

These are just a few of the things you should know about common recreational drugs. Explore our blog for more information on drug use, drug testing, and more.


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