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Fact Sheets

HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse: Intertwined Epidemics

Drug abuse and addiction have been inextricably linked with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. The link has to do with heightened risk—both of contracting and transmitting HIV and of worsening its consequences.

No vaccine yet exists to protect a person from getting HIV, and there is no cure. However, HIV can be prevented and its transmission curtailed. Drug abuse treatment fosters both of these goals. HIV medications also help prevent HIV transmission and the progression of HIV to AIDS, greatly prolonging lives.

Drugged Driving

Use of any psychoactive (mind-altering) drug makes it highly unsafe to drive a car and is illegal—just like driving after drinking alcohol. Drugged driving puts at risk not only the driver but also passengers and others who share the road.

Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Disorders

What Is Comorbidity?

The term “comorbidity” describes two or more disorders or illnesses occurring in the same person. They can occur at the same time or one after the other. Comorbidity also implies interactions between the illnesses that can worsen the course of both.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. It produces short-term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness in addition to potentially dangerous physical effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.

Khat

Khat (pronounced “cot”) is a stimulant drug derived from a shrub (Catha edulis) that is native to East Africa and southern Arabia. The khat plant itself is not scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act; however, because one of the mind-altering chemicals found in it, cathinone, is a Schedule I drug (a controlled substance with no recognized therapeutic use), the Federal Government considers Khat use illegal.

How Is Khat Used?

Leaves of the khat shrub are typically chewed and held in the cheek, like chewing tobacco, to release their stimulant chemicals.

Inhalants

Definition

Although other abused drugs can be inhaled, the term inhalants is reserved for the wide variety of substances—including solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites—that are rarely, if ever, taken via any other route of administration. (See below for a list of examples.)

Stimulant ADHD Medications - Methylphenidate and Amphetamines

Stimulant medications including amphetamines (e.g., Adderall) and methylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin and Concerta) are often prescribed to treat children, adolescents, or adults diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs Chart

Offers a list prescription drugs commonly abused, including depressants, opioids and morphine derivatives, and stimulants, and provides their common and street names, how they are generally administered, and their potential health effects.

Published: September 2002
Revised: October 2011

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