What is Illicit Drug Use?

Illicit drug use refers to the use of drugs not authorized by the government. Drug use can be considered illicit if it is done without a prescription or permission from a doctor. Illicit drug use is often associated with criminals and gangs and can lead to serious health problems.

Illicit drug use is widespread in the United States. More than 26 million Americans under the age of 12 and above were found using illicit drugs at least once in 2013, according to research on drug use and health. The percentage of illicit drug usage varies greatly by race and ethnicity; for instance, it is approximately twice as prevalent among whites compared to blacks.

Marijuana, cocaine, opioids (including morphine and fentanyl), and methamphetamine are the illicit drugs that are used the most frequently in the United States. Marijuana is the country's most commonly used illicit drug, with about 22 million people reporting using it at least once in their lives in 2013. Cocaine ranks second, with about 9 million users reporting using it at least once in their lives. Opioids (including morphine, fentanyl, and methadone) rank. Third, about 7 million users reported using them at least once. Methamphetamine ranks fourth, with about 1 million users reporting using it at least once in their lives.

Types of Illicit Drugs

There are a variety of illicit drugs available on the street, each with its own set of effects and dangers. They are:

  • Cocaine: Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can cause intense feelings of energy and euphoria. It is often used to relieve anxiety and focus but can also lead to addiction and overdose.
  • Marijuana: The illegal substance that is most frequently used in the US is marijuana. It is a psychoactive plant that contains THC, which causes users to feel high. While marijuana has been shown to have some medical benefits, like helping treat pain, it is also associated with negative side effects like impaired cognitive function and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer.
  • Pill mills: Pill mills are places where people can buy prescription pills without providing proof of identity or illness. This makes it easy for people to misuse these medications, leading to addiction and overdose.

Effects of Illicit Drugs

The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that illicit drug use has many negative effects on individuals and society. These include addiction and mental health problems, impaired physical health, crime, and public welfare costs. In addition, illicit drug use is associated with environmental damage, such as habitat loss and pollution.

Addiction is one of the most serious consequences of illicit drug use. It's estimated that about 9 percent of people who try an illicit drug will become addicted. Addiction is a powerful brain disease that causes compulsive drug-seeking and uses despite harmful consequences. People with addiction often need comprehensive treatment programs, including therapy, medication, and other support.

Mental health problems are also common among people who use illicit drugs. Studies have found that people who use illegal drugs are more likely to have symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions. These conditions may adversely affect their ability to handle life challenges and lead normal lives.

In addition to addiction and mental health problems, using illicit drugs can lead to physical health problems. Cocaine users, for example, may develop cardiovascular problems due to the high-stress hormones produced during cocaine use. Opioid users may experience respiratory issues from chronic exposure to opioids or improper use of these medications. Il illicit drug usage greatly increases the risk of contracting HIV and other sexual infections.

How to Respond to an Illicit Drug Situation

There are a few things you may do to react if you find yourself in a scenario where someone is using or possessing illegal drugs.

First, stay calm. If your initial reaction is to become agitated or angry, it will only worsen the situation.

Second, if you can observe the situation firsthand, There are a few things you may do to react if you find yourself in a scenario where someone is using or possessing illegal drugs. This includes identifying the person using or possessing drugs, their location, and other important details.

Third, if you feel comfortable doing so, speak with the person using or possessing drugs. Inform them that they are acting illegally and ask them to stop. If they refuse to stop, be prepared to intervene to protect yourself or others from harm.


Illicit drug use can have serious consequences for a student or an adult. According to a study, illicit drug use costs the United States more than $193 billion per year in criminal justice costs, health care costs, lost productivity, and other expenses. It is possible to overcome addiction and have a meaningful life free of illegal drug usage, which is wonderful news. Please don't be reluctant to get assistance if you or someone you know is battling illicit drug addiction.

Not medical advice, seek professional help!