Other Commonly Abused Substances

At Roots Recovery, we know that beating addiction can seem like an uphill battle, but it’s not one you have to fight alone. An important part of substance abuse recovery is having a deep understanding of addiction, because this knowledge can help you recognize when you or loved one need help.

While many of the most commonly abused substances have been given their own thorough breakdown, we want clients to understand more about some of the other substances that are less discussed but have potential for abuse. Read on to learn more about these lesser known but equally serious addictions.

Depressed man sitting on a couch looking outside

Sedatives and Sleeping Pills

Sedatives and sleeping pills are drugs that depress central nervous system function, reducing the activity of the nerves and causing muscle relaxation. As legal prescription drugs, they’re commonly prescribed for short-term use, and are used to treat headaches, insomnia, seizures, anxiety, and a number of other medical conditions.

Although some people don’t start taking these drugs with the intention to abuse them, over time they will develop a tolerance and won’t realize they’re addicted until they try to stop. The brain becomes accustomed to the effects of these sedatives, making quitting even more difficult. Some of the most common drugs in this class are Ambien and Xanax.

Woman with her hand on her chin thinking about marijuana treatment at Roots Recovery


Marijuana is a psychoactive drug derived from the Cannabis plant that can induce feelings of pleasure and relaxation. Many people don’t consider marijuana addictive, and some states have legalized recreational marijuana use. The long-term effects of marijuana and cannabis byproducts aren’t yet fully understood, however these substances can become psychologically addictive. Some research has linked long-term marijuana use to mood disorders, anxiety, depression, negative effects on memory, and a weakened ability to retain new information.

Man abusing hallucinogens outside shielding his eyes from a light


Hallucinogens are a group of drugs that alter a person’s perception of their surroundings, and even influence their thoughts and feelings. Common hallucinogens include LSD, PCP, ketamine, psilocybin aka “magic” mushrooms, and synthetic cathinones or “bath salts.”

The dangers of hallucinogens are straightforward: They cause hallucinations and sensations that seem real and can cause an individual to feel disconnected from their body, as well as alter their perception of pain and impair their judgment. This can lead users to engage in dangerous behavior that can pose life-threatening risks. Long-term use of hallucinogens can have permanent effects on the brain, inducing paranoia, mood swings, and disorientation or confusion.

Sideview of a woman's face at night


Ecstasy, MDMA, and Molly are names used to refer to a family of amphetamines commonly used on their own or to amplify the effects of alcohol or other drugs in a party or club environment. They are similar to hallucinogens in that they cause increased energy and altered perception, including heightened awareness of colors and sounds, as well as increased dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the body, which cause positive energy, increased heart rate, and feelings of pleasure and well-being.

While research results vary as to whether or not ecstasy is addictive, the short-term side effects can be dangerous. These side effects include impaired judgment, confusion, anxiety, paranoia, and muscle tension. The long-term effects of ecstasy abuse may include brain damage, hemorrhage, depression, anxiety, psychosis, and even death.

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    Man with his eyes shut from abusing inhalants


    Some chemicals found in household substances can be used to alter consciousness, and when they are inhaled, they’re known as inhalants. Inhalants are non-controlled substances, meaning they aren’t illegal and can be obtained by anyone. Examples include spray paint, computer duster, solvents, and aerosol products, which contain chemicals that can cause similar effects as hallucinogens when inhaled. The inhalant commonly known as a “whip-it” takes its name from whipped cream dispensers that contains the compressed form of the mind-altering gas nitrous oxide.

    The short-term high obtained from inhaling these substances can last minutes, and users often inhale more once the effects wear off. Inhalants can cause lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions.

    Bearded man outside with cutoff shirt and stocking cap on

    Cough and Cold Medicines

    Over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressants like dextromethorphan (Robitussin), and pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in many cold medications, are safe if used at the recommended dosage. While these medications are less potent than many substances, they can also be abused. It’s possible to build up a tolerance to OTC drugs just as with any other substance, needing more of it to feel the same effects, and withdrawal symptoms can also develop upon stopping use. Dextromethorphan in particular has similar effects as hallucinogens when taken in high doses and can cause dangerous side effects.

    Bearded man sitting in the outdoors alone

    Kratom, Ayahuasca, Peyote, and Traditional Medicines

    Kratom, Ayahuasca, and Peyote are psychoactive plants used medicinally in their respective cultures. Kratom is a tree from Southeast Asia with opioid and stimulant properties; Ayahuasca is a brewed plant mixture that has been used for ritual purposes in Brazil and some parts of North America for thousands of years; and Peyote is a small cactus used by the Native American Church as part of their religious rituals.

    These substances can be abused just like any other, especially when removed from their intended purpose or cultural context, and the long-term effects of their abuse mimic those of other hallucinogens and stimulants.

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    Explore Other Addictive Substances

    Click any of the various links below to learn more about some of the most commonly abused substances:

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    No matter what substance you or your loved one has been abusing, Roots Recovery can help beat your addiction. Our experienced professionals can help you get to the bottom of your addiction by uncovering the root cause and identifying relapse triggers. Roots can help you develop the tools you need to live a fulfilling life in sobriety.

    Call Roots Recovery today at 844.447.6687 to learn more about how we can help you take back your life from substance abuse.