Although alcohol is a socially acceptable drug, warning signs of over use include using larger amounts than intended, unsuccessful efforts to cut down on use, cravings to use, continued use despite causing problems at home, work or family, increased tolerance, and withdrawal.

Alcohol intoxication signs include Clumsiness, difficult walking, slurred speech, sleepiness, poor judgment, dilated pupils, odor, memory impairment.

Marijuana/ Cannabis

THC, pot, hash, cannabis, grass, joint, dope, weed, reefer, nail, green and Mary Jane alter mood and perception. Marijuana’s active ingredient is called THC. The higher the amount of THC, the more potent the marijuana.

Marijuana is green and/or brown dried leaves, stems and seeds from the hemp plant. Marijuana is normally smoked in a rolled up cigarette, called a joint or nail, or in a hollowed out cigar, called a blunt. Sometimes marijuana is brewed in a tea and other individuals also eat marijuana in the form of baked goods, normally brownies.

Some states have legalized recreational marijuana use but this does not mean marijuana use is risk-free. Signs of use include Glassy, red eyes, loud talking and inappropriate laughter followed by sleepiness, a sweet burnt smell on person, loss of interest and motivation, weight changes.

Symptoms of dependence include the urge to use marijuana no matter the negative outcome and not feeling normal unless high. Warning signs of addiction include needing larger amounts of the drug to get high and prioritizing use over other responsibilities.


Whippets, poppers, snappers, rush, bolt, bullet, aerosol sprays, solvents, gasoline, glues, laughing gas and anything with propellant cause mental confusion. Inhalants can be many things including spray paints, glues, cleaning supplies, gasoline, deodorant sprays, hairsprays, aerosol cooking sprays, felt tip markers, office supplies such as white out, butane lighters and refills for butane lighters. Most individuals will sniff the chemical or place it in large balloons and inhale it.

Inhalants are very dangerous and many people have died from using them. The high is caused by cutting oxygen off from the brain.

Warning signs of use include watery eyes, impaired vision, memory issues, secretions and/or rashes around the mouth and nose, headaches, nausea, appearance of intoxication, drowsiness, poor muscle control, changes in appetite, anxiety and irritability.


Opioids – The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports more than 2 million Americans abuse opioids and that more than 90 Americans die by opioid overdose every day. Opioids, also called narcotics, are a broad group of pain relieving drugs. Doctors prescribe opioids to reduce pain after major injury or surgery, to treat severe pain from health conditions like cancer, and for chronic pain. Common opioids include oxytocin, morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, buprenorphine, methadone, oxymorphone, codeine, and tramadol. The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid. Some opioids are made from the opium plant, and others are synthetic (man-made).

The opioid overdose epidemic began when the medical community was misinformed the medication was not addictive which encouraged doctors to prescribe them to alleviate many painful conditions, even when aspirin might be sufficient. But currently, the medical community is better informed about the addictive nature of opioids and they are much less willing to prescribe the medication or will limit and monitor dosages. Unfortunately, for individuals already addicted, many have turned to street drugs, such as heroin, to alleviate pain.

Opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain which then releases signals to reduce a person’s perception of pain (it does not actually stop the pain, just the perception of pain) and increases feelings of pleasure. Opioids can quickly become addictive, some say within 3 days of taking them. Opioids can make your brain and body believe the drug is necessary for survival. Tolerance increases the longer the drug is taken and even more medication is needed to relieve the pain or achieve well-being, which can lead to dependency.

Lower doses make a person sleepy, but higher doses are very dangerous because the drug can slow breathing and lead to death. Symptoms of dependence include doctor shopping, drug cravings, insistence on the need for medication to relieve pain, anger, irritability and tremors during withdrawal.

Trying to quit “cold turkey” is not recommended and can be very dangerous. The safest way to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms is through medically supervised treatment. There are some medications which can be used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin – Smack, horse, junk, mud, black tar, brown sugar and Big H lowers the perception of pain.

Heroin is processed from morphine and is normally a white or brown powder that comes from the poppy plant. It causes an increase in wakefulness followed by drowsiness. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, sniffed or injected—injection is the most common form of administration. Withdrawal can be extremely dangerous.

Symptoms of heroin addiction include needle marks, sleeping at unusual times, vomiting, sweating, coughing and sniffing, twitching, loss of appetite, contracted pupils, pupils do not react to light.

Symptoms of any opioid/narcotic overdose include shallow, slow breathing, cannot be woken/extremely sleepy and inability to talk, blue figure nails/dark lips, gurgling sounds, vomiting. Immediately call 911 if you suspect an individual is overdosing. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication medical professionals can administer to rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.


Cocaine/Crack – snow, flake, white, blow, nose candy, Big C, snowbirds, lady, Charlie, toot and rock speed up the central nervous system. Cocaine is often cut with other chemicals that look like it to increase the street value, which can make it even more dangerous.

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug that can be snorted, sniffed, smoked or injected. Crack is made by cooking the cocaine into a rock form and smoking it. The term crack comes from the sound it makes while cooking it. Cocaine and crack causes euphoria and manic behavior. Often individuals will not sleep or eat for days, then crash into a deep depression.

Symptoms of dependence include high blood pressure, increased self- confidence, inability to sleep, delusional, paranoia, burns on nose/mouth, increased depression later, when drug wears off.

Amphetamines/Methamphetamine – amphetamines are a type of stimulant often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. They increase alertness, attention and energy. Common medications include Dextroamphetamine, Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, and methamphetamine. They’re sometimes sold illegally. Both prescribed and street amphetamines can be misused and cause dependence issues. Methamphetamine is the most commonly misused amphetamine.

Common street names include speed, uppers, ups, black beauties, pep pills, hearts, beans, love drug, hug, geep, Ice, lemon drop, sketch, spoosh, tick, wash, cinnamon, X, footballs, crystal meth and meth.

Amphetamines are normally taken in pill form orally. Meth can be taken orally, or by snorting, smoking or injection. It often is a clear crystal or powder and easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Often it is smoked in a glass pipe and looks clear. Both decreases appetite and the need for sleep because it speeds up the central nervous system. Many teenagers, especially girls, start using amphetamines and methamphetamines as a way to lose weight. However, both chemicals are extremely addictive.

Warning signs of stimulant use include with hyperactivity, euphoria, irritability, excessive talking followed by depression or excessive sleeping at odd times, may go long periods of time without eating or sleeping, dilated pupils, weight loss, dry mouth and nose.

Symptoms of dependence include restlessness, lack of appetite, weight loss, severe dental problems, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, delusions or hallucinations, mood swings from happy to irritated, violence, paranoia, depression, vomiting, picking at imaginary things such as bugs under the skin, high blood pressure, chemical smell.


PCP, angel dust, loveboat, lovely, hog, killer weed, LSD, acid, dragons, boat, blotter, blotter acid, buttons, cactus, dots, pane, ‘shrooms, white lightening, sugar cubes, sin and trip temporarily distort reality by changing the way neurons communicate with each other with serotonin.

LSD – often comes in tablets, on paper and as liquid. It often produces hallucinations, distorts reality and creates feelings of detachment, often with changes in the senses and severe mood swings. It is made in a pure crystallized form that is often crushed into powder and diluted with gelatin or other compounds.

PCP – often sold in pill form or as colored powder. It is taken orally, or crushed and snorted or eaten. The result is an “out of body” experience. It creates delirium and agitation, and sometimes individuals become psychotic and/or suicidal. It was approved for use in animals, but never in humans. PCP is often mixed with marijuana and tobacco and smoked.

Ketamine – similar to PCP, and is odorless and colorless. It is often referred to as the date rape drug, as it dissolves completely in alcohol and other liquids, and can be difficult to detect.

Warning signs of hallucination drug use include dilated pupils, bizarre and irrational behavior, paranoia, aggression, hallucinations, confusion, slurred speech, detachment from people, mood swings, absorption with self or other objects.

The Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on Persons with Disabilities

People experience a wide variety of effects from a disability. Many of the effects of excessive use of alcohol and other drugs are similar to the effects of disability. Combined, the effects can be much worse than using or the disability alone.