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What Are Illicit Drugs?

Illicit drug is a term that refers to illegal and highly addictive substances, like heroin, cocaine and meth. These drugs are prohibited because of the effect they have on the user’s health, mental acuity and society as a whole. While many people initially use a substance voluntarily, it is not long before they develop a physical dependence on the substance, making the ability to quit challenging and risky without supervision.

Drug Types and Population Use

There are many types of illicit drugs, and the abuse of these substances is, unfortunately, not uncommon. It is estimated that nearly 24 million Americans, or roughly 12 percent of the population, abuse illegal substances. While the average age of drug users is between 18 and 25, many studies have found that children are as young as 12 when they form a drug habit. The types of drugs range from inhalants and marijuana to heroin and cocaine. In recent years, drug enforcement agencies have seen a rise in synthetic drugs entering the market, which is more difficult to trace and regulate.

Abuse and Risks

While not all drugs share in the severity of health risks, every illegal substance does present a significant threat to the user, primarily when used habitually. However, you should not underestimate the risk to life for even first-time users. It is all too common for people unfamiliar with a substance to overdose. Even those people who are familiar with a drug and use it regularly can overdose.

Beyond overdosing, drugs present a significant risk to brain development, lung health and cardiovascular systems. By using drugs, you are essentially polluting your body with toxic chemicals and hoping for the best.


Treatment options for drug users range from group therapy to medical intervention. There are detox facilities and treatment centers that aim to help users curb their behavior and mentality toward drugs. Still, many of these treatment options do require psychological treatment and commitment to be effective.

Legal Ramifications

While the common understanding of drug abuse is that it is a medical and mental health problem, laws still attribute drug use to criminal activity. Therefore, if you are arrested while in possession of an illegal substance, you may face possible jail time; if the weight of the substance reaches a certain level, you will face a possible mandatory minimum sentence.

If you or someone you know is a drug user, make sure they understand the health and legal consequences of their actions. If you or someone you love is arrested for possession, then contact a criminal defense attorney like from the Morales Law Firm, for help.


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