Illicit Drug Use

This class of drugs that either stimulate or inhibit the central nervous system. Due to their intense adverse reactions, illicit drugs are illegal. Examples of illicit drugs are:

Although considered to be one of the most highly addictive substances known to man, the number of first time cocaine users nation wide has increased 73% since 2013. Overdoses from cocaine are not uncommon due to the drug affecting the portion of the brain responsible for the heart. The heart becomes overworked, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Signs/symptoms of use:

  • Violent and/or paranoid behavior
  • Missing spoons, pens, razor blades, credit cards, or money
  • Sudden change in appearance and/or attitude
  • Unexplained absences

Side effects:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Convulsions
  • Increased body temperature
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Death


Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that comes in a powdery substance and pill form. Crystal meth, another form of meth, is often smoked and resembles glass fragments. In Missouri, admissions for amphetamines increase by 28% from 2014 to 2017. Researchers have reported that 50% of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain can be damaged after prolonged exposure to relatively low levels of meth. They also found that serotonin-containing nerve cells may be damaged even more extensively.


  • Violent behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Severe weight loss

Side effects:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Hyperthermia
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Convulsions
  • Death


Heroin is a Schedule I substance that has a high potential for abuse. Because it enters the brain so rapidly, it is known to be one of the most highly addictive substances known to man; both physically and psychologically. In 2018, seizures of heroin in Missouri increased by 22%. Users often do not know the power of heroin, therefore, they are at a high risk of overdose or death.


  • Nodding off
  • Pinpoint pupils
  •  Sores/marks on arms or other parts of the boyd
  • Sudden change in appearance and/or attitude

Side effects:

  • Clouded thinking
  • Slowed speech and movement
  • Euphoria
  • Infections
  • Blood clots


Additional Resources

DEA Education and Outreach

NIDA–Cocaine Drug Facts

NIDA–Meth Drug Facts





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