What Does Mean?

Some teens experiment with drugs and even try things around the house to “get high.” The drugs most often abused by teens – across the country and in Cuyahoga County – are provided here to give you some facts about these drugs and what they can do so you understand the risks.


Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug by teens in the United States. 58.2% of Cuyahoga high school teens have tried drinking and nearly 30% have had a drink in the last 30 days. 15.8% of Cuyahoga teens have engaged in binge drinking (having more than 5 drinks in a row within a couple of hours) one or more days in the past 30 days. (View Source)

Many teens and even some adults believe that teen drinking is no big deal. Teen drinking is a big deal. It can cause learning problems and lead to adult alcoholism. Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning and even death.


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Almost two-thirds (63.3%) of Cuyahoga teens have never used marijuana. Of those who do, about 20% have used it one or more times in the last 30 days. (View Source)

Whether smoked as “joints” or “blunts” or in a hookah or an electronic vapor device or eaten in candy or desserts, marijuana can cause development issues, short-term memory loss, slow learning and other problems for teens who use it. (View Source)


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Prescription Drugs

86% of Cuyahoga high school teens have never abused prescription drugs. 14% have taken a prescription drug – like OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax – that wasn’t prescribed by a doctor. (View Source)

Some people think that prescription drugs are safer than street or illegal drugs, but they can be just as addictive and deadly. Some of the most commonly abused by teens include: Stimulant medications (such as Adderall or Ritalin), prescribed for ADHD; narcotic (opioid) pain medications like OxyContin, oxycodone (Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), Fentanyl and morphine.; depressants like diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) and anabolic steroids (called “roids” or “juice”).


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Most (62%) of Cuyahoga County high school teens have never tried any form of tobacco or nicotine. 30.7% of Cuyahoga County teens have tried cigarettes and of those, 9.8% have smoked a cigarette in the last 30 days. 38% have tried tobacco using an electronic vapor product and 18.7% report “vaping” within the last 30 days. 15% have smoked cigars (little cigars or cigarillos) and 13% have smoked using a hookah in the last 30 days. (View Source)

Many people don’t know that nicotine is one of the ingredients in e-cigarettes. No matter how it’s smoked, nicotine is very addictive drug that can have lasting damaging effects on adolescent brain development and cause other serious health problems. (View Source)

32.6% of Cuyahoga County high school teens who smoke cigarettes have tried to quit. That’s important. Nearly 9 of out 10 adult smokers first tried smoking before they were 18 years old. (View Source)


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Synthetic Marijuana

Some teens falsely believe that synthetic marijuana is safer than the real thing and 7% of Cuyahoga high school students have tried it. (View Source)

Synthetic marijuana is called K2, Spice, fake weed, King Kong, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, or Moon Rocks and can cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior and suicidal thoughts. It can also raise blood pressure and reduce blood supply to the heart, as well as kidney damage and seizures. (View Source).


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Illegal Drugs

Nearly 95% of Cuyahoga County high school teens have never tried or used illegal or “street” drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth or ecstasy (also known as “molly”). More than 5% have used some form of these drugs one or more times. (View Source).

Some other illegal drugs that teens experiment with include: A synthetic stimulant known as “Bath Salts”; GHB (called “liquid ecstasy” and used as a “date rape” drug); Ketamine (a drug legally used during surgery called “Vitamin K” and “Special K”); the herbs Kratom and Salvia; and “psychedelic” drugs like LSD (“acid”), psilocybin mushrooms, peyote and DMT; PCP (“angel dust”) and Rohypnol (called “roofies,” and used as a “date rape” drug).

Using any of these can lead to a serious health emergency like overdose and even death. There is no “illegal” or “street” drug that is safe for teens to use – even once.


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Over-the-Counter Drugs and Household Products

Nonprescription medications can be safe and legal when used as intended, but can be deadly when misused.

Some of the most commonly abused over-the-counter drugs & household products include:

  • Over-the-counter cough and flu medicines that contain dextromethorphan (DXM), which can cause seizures, high fever and brain damage. The risk is increased when mixed with alcohol in drinks or with other drugs. (View Source)
  • Common household items that are inhaled, like spray paint, gasses and glues. These can cause sniffing death syndrome (“SSDS”) due to irregular heartbeat, choking on vomit and not being able to breath, even the first time a person tries it. (View Source) Drinking hand sanitizer or other non-consumable products containing alcohol can result in serious illness and a trip to the emergency room.