Welcome to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug ProgramsADP en Espanol
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Introduction

People usually take drugs because they want to change something in their lives. Here are some of the reasons young people gave for taking drugs:

  • To fit in
  • To escape or relax
  • To relieve boredom
  • To seem grown up
  • To rebel
  • To experiment

They think drugs are a solution. But eventually, the drugs become the problem. The consequences of drug use are always worse than the problem one is trying to solve with them.

How do drugs work?

Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant (speeds you up). A greater amount acts as a sedative (slows you down). An even larger amount poisons and can kill.

Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones with the unwanted. While drugs might be of short-term value in the handling of pain, they wipe out ability, alertness, and muddy one's thinking.

What are the most commonly used drugs?

Alcohol is the most commonly used — and abused — drug in the United States. The most commonly used illicit drug is marijuana.

Which drugs are the most addictive?

Many users of methamphetamine (crystal meth) report getting hooked after the first time they used it. Next to meth, crack creates the greatest psychological dependence of any drug. Heroin is also highly addictive and is one of the three most frequently cited drugs in drug abuse deaths.

International statistics

An estimated 208 million people internationally consume illegal drugs.

In the United States, results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 19.9 million Americans were illicit drug users in the month prior to the survey.