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Updated: Jan 16, 2020


A drug is any substance that causes a change in an organism’s physiology or psychology when consumed. Drugs are typically distinguished from food and substances that provide nutritional support. Consumption of drugs can be via inhalation, injection, smoking, ingestion, absorption via a patch on the skin or dissolution under the tongue.


In pharmacology, a drug is a chemical substance, typically of known structure, which, when administered to a living organism, produces a biological effect. A pharmaceutical drug also called a medication or medicine, is a chemical substance used to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose a disease or to promote well-being. Traditionally drugs were obtained through extraction from medicinal plants, but more recently also by organic synthesis. Pharmaceutical drugs may be used for a limited duration, or on a regular basis for chronic disorders. Pharmaceutical drugs are often classified into drug classes — groups of related drugs that have similar chemical structures, the same mechanism of action (binding to the same biological target), a related mode of action, and that are used to treat the same disease. The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (ATC), the most widely used drug classification system, assigns drugs a unique ATC code, which is an alphanumeric code that assigns it to specific drug classes within the ATC system. Another major classification system is the Biopharmaceutics Classification System. This classifies drugs according to their solubility and permeability or absorption properties. Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that affect the function of the central nervous system, altering perception, mood or consciousness. These drugs are divided into different groups like stimulants, depressants, antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, and hallucinogens. These psychotropic drugs have been proven useful in treating a wide range of medical conditions including mental disorders around the world. The most widely used drugs in the world include caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol which are also considered recreational drugs since they are used for pleasure rather than medicinal purposes. Abuse of several psychoactive drugs can cause psychological or physical addiction. It’s worth noting that all drugs can have potential side effects. Excessive use of stimulants can promote stimulant psychosis. Many recreational drugs are illicit and international treaties such as the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs exist for the purpose of their prohibition.


In English, the noun “drug” is thought to originate from Old French “drogue”, possibly deriving later into “droge-vate” from Middle Dutch meaning “dry barrels”, referring to medicinal plants preserved in them. The transitive verb “to a drug” (meaning intentionally administer a substance to someone, often without their knowledge) arose later and invokes the psychoactive rather than medicinal properties of a substance.


A medication or medicine is a drug taken to cure any symptoms of an illness or medical condition. The use may also be a preventive medicine that has future benefits but does not treat any existing or pre-existing diseases or symptoms. Dispensing of medication is often regulated by governments into three categories — over-the-counter medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarkets without special restrictions; behind-the-counter medicines, which are dispensed by a pharmacist without needing a doctor’s prescription, and prescription-only medicines, which must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional, usually a physician. In the United Kingdom, behind-the-counter medicines are called pharmacy medicines which can only be sold in registered pharmacies, by or under the supervision of a pharmacist. These medications are designated by the letter P on the label. The range of medicines available without a prescription varies from country to country. Medications are typically produced by pharmaceutical companies and are often patented to give the developer exclusive rights to produce them. Those that are not patented (or with expired patents) are called generic drugs since they can be produced by other companies without restrictions or licenses from the patent holder. Pharmaceutical drugs are usually categorized into drug classes. A group of drugs will share a similar chemical structure, or have the same mechanism of action, the same related mode of action or target the same illness or related illnesses.

Nexium a proton-pump inhibitor. Used to reduce the production of stomach acid

Spiritual and religious use

Some religions, particularly ethnic religions are based completely on the use of certain drugs, known as entheogens, which are mostly hallucinogens, — psychedelics, dissociatives, or deliriants. Some drugs used as entheogens include kava which can act as a stimulant, a sedative, a euphoriant and an anaesthetic. The roots of the kava plant are used to produce a drink which is consumed throughout the cultures of the Pacific Ocean. Some shamans from different cultures use entheogens, defined as “generating the divine within” to achieve religious ecstasy. Amazonian shamans use ayahuasca (yagé) a hallucinogenic brew for this purpose. Mazatec shamans have a long and continuous tradition of religious use of Salvia divinorum a psychoactive plant. Its use is to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions.


Smart drugs and designer drugs

Nootropics, also commonly referred to as “smart drugs”, are drugs that are claimed to improve human cognitive abilities. Nootropics are used to improve memory, concentration, thought, mood, and learning. An increasingly used nootropic among students, also known as a study drug, is methylphenidate branded commonly as Ritalin and used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. At high doses, methylphenidate can become highly addictive. Serious addiction can lead to psychosis, anxiety and heart problems, and the use of this drug is related to a rise in suicides, and overdoses. Intravenous use of methylphenidate can lead to emphysematous damage to the lungs, known as Ritalin lung. Some nootropics are also now beginning to be used to treat medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. They are also commonly used to regain brain function lost during ageing. Other drugs known as designer drugs are produced. An early example of what today would be labelled a ‘designer drug’ was LSD, which was synthesized from ergot. Other examples include analogues of performance-enhancing drugs such as designer steroids taken to improve physical capabilities and these are sometimes used (legally or not) for this purpose, often by professional athletes. Other designer drugs mimic the effects of psychoactive drugs. Since the late 1990s, there has been the identification of many of these synthesized drugs. In Japan and the United Kingdom, this has spurred the addition of many designer drugs into a newer class of controlled substances known as a temporary class drug.


Recreational drug use

Recreational drug use is the use of a drug (legal, controlled, or illegal) with the primary intention of altering the state of consciousness through alteration of the central nervous system in order to create positive emotions and feelings. The hallucinogen LSD is a psychoactive drug commonly used as a recreational drug. Some national laws prohibit the use of different recreational drugs, and medicinal drugs that have the potential for recreational use are often heavily regulated. However, there are many recreational drugs that are legal in many jurisdictions and widely culturally accepted. Cannabis is the most commonly consumed controlled recreational drug in the world (as of 2012). Its use in many countries is illegal but is legally used in several countries usually with the proviso that it can only be used for personal use. It can be used in the leaf form of marijuana (grass), or in the resin form of hashish. Marijuana is a more mild form of cannabis than hashish.

Cannabis is a commonly used recreational drug

There may be an age restriction on the consumption and purchase of legal recreational drugs. Some recreational drugs that are legal and accepted in many places include alcohol, tobacco, betel nut, and caffeine products, and in some areas of the world, the legal use of drugs such as khat is common.

Drug distribution

Drug distribution is the process by means of which people get access to medication.



Because governments regulate access to drugs, governments control drug distribution and the drug supply chain more than trade for other goods. Distribution begins with the pharmaceutical industry manufacturing drugs. From there, intermediaries in the public sector, private sector, and non-governmental organizations acquire drugs to provide them to other intermediaries. Eventually, the drugs reach different classes of consumers who use them. Good distribution practice (GDP) is a quality warranty system, which includes requirements for purchase, receiving, storage and export of drugs intended for human consumption. It regulates the division and movement of pharmaceutical products from the premises of the manufacturer of medicinal products, or another central point, to the end-user thereof, or to an intermediate point by means of various transport methods, via various storage and/or health establishments.


In 2011, Argentina introduced a catalogue of drugs covered but its national drug traceability scheme, listing more than 3,000 drugs that require the placing of unique serial numbers and tamper-evident features on the secondary packaging. The drugs listed are recorded in real-time in a central database managed by the National Administration of Drugs, Foods, Medical Devices of Argentina (ANMAT), Regulation 3683, which uses Global Location Numbers (GLNs) to identify the various actors in the supply chain. The purpose of this program is to actively limit the use of illegal drugs.


The 2009 Brazilian Federal Law 11.903 and subsequent regulations of the National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance in Brazil (ANVISA) require that a 2D data matrix code be put on all secondary packaging. Under these provisions, manufacturers will be required to maintain a database of all transactions from manufacturing to dispensing, while distributors must report serialized transaction data to the manufacturer and keep a database of suppliers, medicine recipients, and packing companies.


In 2008, China’s State Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) made serialization mandatory for over 275 therapeutic classes of individual saleable product units by December 2015. The CFDA does not follow an international standard. Manufacturers may only register their products and obtain their serial numbers by applying to the China Product Identification, Authentication and Tracking System (PIATS). They must also implement a quality control system with an electronic drug-monitoring system, a standardized documentation system, and bar codes to ensure pharmaceutical traceability. Companies importing drugs into China must designate a local pharmaceutical company or wholesaler as their electronic monitoring agent in the country. In addition to legislative reforms, China has increased enforcement efforts at the provincial and local levels. In 2013, the Chinese government coordinated joint special enforcement campaigns targeting counterfeit drugs. China regulations are currently on hold.


In Europe GDP is based on the Commission Directive (EU) 2017/1572 of 15 September 2017 supplementing Directive 2001/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the principles and guidelines of good manufacturing practice for medicinal products for human use. In 2016, the European Medicines Agency adopted the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), which requires all pharmaceutical products sold in the EU to feature obligatory “safety features.” This directive is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2019. By February 9, 2019, all pharmaceutical companies will be required to connect their internal systems to the EU data repository, which contains the product master data and batch information. This will allow pharmacists and consumers to authenticate their medicines.

United States

In the US GMP is based on the Code of Federal Regulations 21 CFR 210/211, and USP 1079.

The US Drug Supply and Chain Security Act (DQSA), was enacted by Congress on November 26, 2013, and outlines requirements to build electronic systems that identify and trace prescription drugs distributed in the US. By November 27th, 2023, fully electronic track & trace capability will be required for all partners in the supply chain.

Drug delivery

Drug delivery refers to approaches, formulations, technologies, and systems for transporting a pharmaceutical compound in the body as needed to safely achieve its desired therapeutic effect. It may involve scientific site-targeting within the body, or it might involve facilitating systemic pharmacokinetics; in any case, it is typically concerned with both quantity and duration of drug presence. Drug delivery is often approached via a drug’s chemical formulation, but it may also involve medical devices or drug-device combination products. Drug delivery is a concept heavily integrated with dosage form and route of administration. Drug delivery technologies modify drug release profile, absorption, distribution and elimination for the benefit of improving product efficacy and safety, as well as patient convenience and compliance. Drug release is from diffusion, degradation, swelling, and affinity-based mechanisms. Some of the common routes of administration include the enteral (gastrointestinal tract), parenteral (via injections), inhalation, transdermal, topical and oral routes. Many medications such as peptide and protein, antibody, vaccine, and gene-based drugs, in general, may not be delivered using these routes because they might be susceptible to enzymatic degradation or can not be absorbed into the systemic circulation efficiently due to molecular size and charge issues to be therapeutically effective. For this reason, many proteins and peptide drugs have to be delivered by injection or a nanoneedle array.

Current efforts in the area of drug delivery include the development of targeted delivery in which the drug is only active in the target area of the body (for example, in cancerous tissues), sustained-release formulations in which the drug is released over a period of time in a controlled manner from a formulation, and methods to increase survival of peroral agents which must pass through the stomach’s acidic environment. In order to achieve efficient targeted delivery, the designed system must avoid the host’s defense mechanisms and circulate to its intended site of action. Types of sustained-release formulations include liposomes, drug-loaded biodegradable microspheres, and drug-polymer conjugates. Survival of agents as they pass through the stomach typically is an issue for agents which cannot be encased in a solid tablet; one research area has been around the utilization of lipid isolates from the acid-resistant archaea Sulfolobus islandicus, which confers on the order of 10% survival of liposome-encapsulated agents.

Illegal drug trade

An illegal drug trade operates to distribute illegal drugs. The trade of illegal drugs overlaps with trade-in contraband of all sorts. Illegal drug distribution does not overlap in obvious ways with the legal trade of legal drugs. The illegal drug trade or drug trafficking is a global black market dedicated to the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of drugs that are subject to drug prohibition laws. Most jurisdictions prohibit trade, except under license, of many types of drugs through the use of drug prohibition laws.

Drug Traffick

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2005 estimates the size of the global illicit drug market at US$321.6 billion in 2003 alone. With a world GDP of US$36 trillion in the same year, the illegal drug trade may be estimated as nearly 1% of total global trade. Consumption of illegal drugs is widespread globally and remains very difficult for local authorities to thwart its popularity.


Chinese authorities issued edicts against opium smoking in 1729, 1796 and 1800. The West prohibited addictive drugs throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the early 19th century, an illegal drug trade in China emerged. The Chinese government responded by enforcing a ban on the import of opium; this led to the First Opium War (1839–1842) between the United Kingdom and Qing-dynasty China. The United Kingdom won and forced China to allow British merchants to sell Indian-grown opium. Trading in opium was lucrative, and smoking opium had become common in the 19th century, so British merchants increased trade with the Chinese. As a result, by 1838 the number of Chinese opium addicts had grown to between four and twelve million. In 1868, as a result of the increased use of opium, the UK restricted the sale of opium in Britain by implementing the 1868 Pharmacy Act. In the United States, control of opium remained under the control of individual US states until the introduction of the Harrison Act in 1914, after 12 international powers signed the International Opium Convention in 1912. Between 1920 and 1933 the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution banned alcohol in the United States. Prohibition proved almost impossible to enforce and resulted in the rise of organized crime, including the modern American Mafia, which identified enormous business opportunities in the manufacturing, smuggling, and sale of illicit liquor. The beginning of the 21st century saw drug use increase in North America and Europe, with a particularly increased demand for marijuana and cocaine. As a result, international organized crime syndicates such as the Sinaloa Cartel and ‘Ndrangheta have increased cooperation among each other in order to facilitate trans-Atlantic drug-trafficking. Drug trafficking is widely regarded by lawmakers as a serious offense around the world. Penalties often depend on the type of drug (and its classification in the country into which it is being trafficked), the quantity trafficked, where the drugs are sold and how they are distributed. If the drugs are sold to underage people, then the penalties for trafficking may be harsher than in other circumstances. Drug smuggling carries severe penalties in many countries. Sentencing may include lengthy periods of incarceration, flogging and even the death penalty (in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and elsewhere). In December 2005, Van Tuong Nguyen, a 25-year-old Australian drug smuggler, was hanged in Singapore after being convicted in March 2004. In 2010, two people were sentenced to death in Malaysia for trafficking 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of cannabis into the country. Execution is mostly used as a deterrent, and many have called upon much more effective measures to be taken by countries to tackle drug trafficking, for example, targeting specific criminal organizations (which are often also active in the smuggling of other goods (i.e. wildlife) and even people.

Societal effects

The countries of drug production and transit are some of the most affected by the drug trade, though countries receiving illegally imported substances are also adversely affected. For example, Ecuador has absorbed up to 300,000 refugees from Colombia who are running from guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug lords. While some applied for asylum, others are still illegal immigrants. The drugs that pass from Colombia through Ecuador to other parts of South America create economic and social problems. Honduras, through which an estimated 79% of cocaine passes on its way to the United States, has the highest murder rate in the world. According to the International Crisis Group, the most violent regions in Central America, particularly along Guatemala–Honduras border, are highly correlated with an abundance of drug trafficking activity.

Violent crime

In many countries, the illegal drug trade is thought to be directly linked to violent crimes such as murder. This is especially true in all developing countries, such as Honduras, but is also an issue for many developed countries worldwide. In the late 1990s in the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated that 5% of murders were drug-related. In Colombia, Drug violence can be caused by factors such as the economy, poor governments, and no authority within law enforcement. After a crackdown by US and Mexican authorities in the first decade of the 21st century as part of tightened border security in the wake of the September 11 attacks, border violence inside Mexico surged. The Mexican government estimates that 90% of the killings are drug-related. A report by the UK government’s Drug Strategy Unit that was leaked to the press, stated that due to the expensive price of highly addictive drugs heroin and cocaine, drug use was responsible for the great majority of crime, including 85% of shoplifting, 70–80% of burglaries and 54% of robberies. It concluded that “the cost of crime committed to supporting illegal cocaine and heroin habits amounts to £16 billion a year in the UK”.

Drug trafficking routes

South America

Venezuela has been a path to the United States and Europe for illegal drugs originating in Colombia, through Central America, Mexico and Caribbean countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. According to the United Nations, there was an increase in cocaine trafficking through Venezuela since 2002. In 2005, the government of Hugo Chávez severed ties with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), accusing its representatives of spying. Following the departure of the DEA from Venezuela and the expansion of DEA’s partnership with Colombia in 2005, Venezuela became more attractive to drug traffickers. Between 2008 and 2012, Venezuela’s cocaine seizure ranking among other countries declined, going from being ranked fourth in the world for cocaine seizures in 2008 to sixth in the world in 2012. On 18 November 2016, following what was known as the Narcosobrinos incident, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s two nephews were found guilty of trying to ship drugs into the United States so they could “obtain a large amount of cash to help their family stay in power”.

West Africa

Cocaine produced in Colombia and Bolivia increasingly has been shipped via West Africa (especially in Cape Verde, Mali, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, and Ghana). The money is often laundered in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal. According to the Africa Economic Institute, the value of illicit drug smuggling in Guinea-Bissau is almost twice the value of the country’s GDP. Police officers are often bribed. A police officer’s normal monthly wage of $93 is less than 2% of the value of 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of cocaine (€7000 or $8750). The money can also be laundered using real estate. A house is built using illegal funds, and when the house is sold, legal money is earned.

Eastern and Southern Africa

Heroin is increasingly trafficked from Afghanistan to Europe and America through eastern and southern African countries. This path is known as the “southern route” or “smack track.” Repercussions of this trade include burgeoning heroin use and political corruption among intermediary African nations.


Drugs in Asia traditionally travelled the southern routes — the main caravan axes of Southeast Asia and Southern China — and include the former opium-producing countries of Thailand, Iran, and Pakistan. After the 1990s, particularly after the Cold War ended, borders were opened and trading and customs agreements were signed so that the routes expanded to include China, Central Asia, and Russia. There is, therefore, a diversified drug trafficking routes available today, particularly in the heroin trade and these thrive due to the continuous development of new markets. A large number of drugs are smuggled into Europe from Asia. The main sources of these drugs are Afghanistan, along with countries that constituted the so-called Golden Crescent. From these producers, drugs are smuggled into the West and Central Asia to its destinations in Europe and the United States. Iran is now the route for smugglers, having been previously a primary trading route, due to its large-scale and costly war against drug trafficking.


Statistics about profits from the drug trade are largely unknown due to its illicit nature. In its 1997 World Drugs Report the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated the value of the market at $4 trillion, ranking drugs alongside arms and oil among the world’s largest traded goods. An online report published by the UK Home Office in 2007 estimated the illicit drug market in the UK at £4–6.6 billion a year. In December 2009 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa claimed illegal drug money saved the banking industry from collapse. He claimed he had seen evidence that the proceeds of organized crime were “the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks on the brink of collapse during 2008. Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drug money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. Though street-level drug sales are widely viewed as lucrative, a study by Sudhir Venkatesh suggested that many low-level employees receive low wages. In a study he made in the 1990s working closely with members of the Black Gangster Disciple Nation in Chicago, he found that one gang (essentially a franchise) consisted of a leader (a college graduate named J.T.), three senior officers, and 25 to 75 street level salesmen (‘foot soldiers’) depending on season. Selling crack cocaine, they took in approximately $32,000 per month over a six-year period. This was spent as follows: $5,000 to the board of twenty directors of the Black Gangster Disciple Nation, who oversaw 100 such gangs for approximately $500,000 in monthly income. Another $5,000 monthly was paid for cocaine and $4,000 for other non-wage expenses. J.T. took $8,500 monthly for his own salary. The remaining $9,500 monthly went to pay the employees a $7 per hour wage for officers and a $3.30 per hour wage for foot soldiers.

Trade-in specific drugs


While the recreational use of (and consequently the distribution of) cannabis is illegal in most countries throughout the world, it is available by prescription or recommendation in many places, including Canada and 10 of the 50 US states (although importation and distribution are still federally prohibited). Beginning in 2014, Uruguay became the first country to legalize cultivation, sale, and consumption of cannabis for recreational use for adult residents. In 2018, Canada became the only second country to legalize the use, sale, and cultivation of cannabis. The first few weeks were met with extremely high demand, most shops being out of stock after operating for only four days. The demand for cannabis around the world, coupled with the drug’s relative ease of cultivation, makes the illicit cannabis trade one of the primary ways in which organized criminal groups finance many of their activities. In Mexico, for example, the illicit trafficking of cannabis is thought to constitute the majority of many of the cartels’ earnings and the main way in which the cartels finance many other illegal activities; including the purchase of other illegal drugs for trafficking, and for acquiring weapons that are ultimately used to commit murders (causing a burgeoning in the homicide rates of many areas of the world, but particularly Latin America).



Up until around 2004, the majority of the world’s heroin was produced in an area known as the Golden Triangle. However, by 2007, 93% of the opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. This amounted to an export value of about US$64 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers. Another significant area where poppy fields are grown for the manufacture of heroin in Mexico. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the price of heroin is typically valued 8 to 10 times that of cocaine on American streets, making it a high-profit substance for smugglers and dealers. In Europe (except the transit countries Portugal and the Netherlands), for example, a purported gram of street heroin, usually consisting of 700–800 mg of a light to dark brown powder containing 5–10% heroin base, costs €30–70, making the effective value per gram of pure heroin €300–700. Heroin is generally a preferred product for smuggling and distribution — over unrefined opium due to the cost-effectiveness and increased efficacy of heroin. Because of the high cost per volume, heroin is easily smuggled. A US quarter-sized (2.5 cm) cylindrical vial can contain hundreds of doses. From the 1930s to the early 1970s, the so-called French Connection supplied the majority of US demand. Allegedly, during the Vietnam War, drug lords such as Ike Atkinson used to smuggle hundreds of kilograms of heroin to the US in coffins of dead American soldiers. Since that time it has become more difficult for drugs to be imported into the US than it had been in previous decades, but that does not stop the heroin smugglers from getting their product across US borders. Purity levels vary greatly by region with Northeastern cities having the purest heroin in the United States. On 17 October 2018 police in Genoa Italy, discovered 270 kg of heroin hidden in a ship coming from the Iranian southern port of Bandar Abbas. The ship had already passed and stopped at Hamburg in Germany and Valencia in Spain. Penalties for smuggling heroin or morphine are often harsh in most countries. Some countries will readily hand down a death sentence (e.g. Singapore) or life in prison for the illegal smuggling of heroin, which are both internationally Schedule I drugs under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.



Cocaine is a highly prominent drug among many drug dealers and manufacturers. The cocaine black market distribution industry is worth more than 85 billion dollars. It has been heavily fought over and massively produced. Around 1.1 million kilograms of cocaine were made in 2009 and it is believed to have been consumed by around 17 million people worldwide. This drug’s mass trade is believed to have been possible by notorious drug dealing kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán who ran the Sinaloa Cartel.


Drug addiction

Drug addiction, also called substance dependence or dependence syndrome, is a condition where a person feels a strong need to take a drug. Addiction also involves other behaviors. These include finding it difficult to control the need to use the drug and feeling the use of the drug to be more important than more normal things such as family or work. When the person does not use the drug for an amount of time, they may suffer from withdrawal. When a person is addicted, they are usually addicted to a class (a specific kind) of a drug. For example, Heroin is a drug that is in the Opiate class. Which means that a person addicted to Heroin may also be seen to have an addiction to other opiates such as Morphine. A person who may easily become addicted to drugs is said to have an addictive personality. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines drug addiction as a mental disorder. Drug addiction is often linked with other mental disorders.

Drug harmfulness

Drug harmfulness is the degree to which a psychoactive drug is harmful to a user and is measured in various ways, such as by addictiveness and the potential for physical harm. More harmful drugs are called “hard drugs”, and less harmful drugs are called “soft drugs”. The term “soft drug” is considered controversial by its critics as it may imply that soft drugs cause no or insignificant harm.

Hard and soft drugs

According to the legal system of the Netherlands; selected soft drugs are tolerated legally while other hard drugs are illegal. Soft drugs can be tolerated in various ways whether it be total lack of regulation or some regulation, but it is still legal availability to the public.

Drug policy

The distinction between soft drugs and hard drugs is important in the drug policy of the Netherlands, where cannabis production, retail and use come under official tolerance, subject to certain conditions. The Dutch Opium Law contains two lists of drugs, List I and List II, that are colloquially considered to be lists of hard and soft drugs, respectively. Other countries typically have more than two categories. For example, the United States has five schedules in the Controlled Substances Act, ranging from one through five. The United Kingdom has three classes in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: A, B, and C.


People take drugs because they want to change something about their lives. Here are some of the reasons young people have given for taking drugs:

To fit in

To escape or relax

To relieve boredom

To seem grown-up

To rebel

To experiment

They think drugs are a solution. But eventually, the drugs become the problem. Difficult as it may be to face one’s problems, the consequences of drug use are always worse than the problem one is trying to solve with them. The real answer is to get the facts and not to take drugs in the first place.

They think drugs are a solution. But eventually, the drugs become the problem. Difficult as it may be to face one’s problems, the consequences of drug use are always worse than the problem one is trying to solve with them. The real answer is to get the facts and not to take drugs in the first place.

How Do Drugs Work?

Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant (speeds you up). A greater amount acts as a sedative (slows you down). An even larger amount poisons and can kill. This is true of any drug. Only the amount needed to achieve the effect differs. But many drugs have another liability: they directly affect the mind. They can distort the user’s perception of what is happening around him or her. As a result, the person’s actions may be odd, irrational, inappropriate and even destructive. Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones with the unwanted. So, while providing short-term help in the relief of pain, they also wipe out ability and alertness and muddy one’s thinking. Medicines are drugs that are intended to speed up or slow down or change something about the way your body is working, to try to make it work better. Sometimes they are necessary. But they are still drugs: they act as stimulants or sedatives, and too much can kill you. So if you do not use medicines as they are supposed to be used, they can be as dangerous as illegal drugs.

Drugs Affects the Mind

Normally, when a person remembers something, the mind is very fast and information comes to him quickly. But drugs blur memory, causing blank spots. When a person tries to get information through this cloudy mess, he can’t do it. Drugs make a person feel slow or stupid and cause him to have failures in life. And as he has more failures and life gets harder, he wants more drugs to help him deal with the problem.

Drugs Destroy Creativity

One lie told about drugs is that they help a person become more creative. The truth is quite different. Someone who is sad might use drugs to get a feeling of happiness, but it does not work. Drugs can lift a person into a fake kind of cheerfulness, but when the drug wears off, he or she crashes even lower than before. And each time, the emotional plunge is lower and lower. Eventually, drugs will completely destroy all the creativity a person has.

“During the whole time, I was on drugs I thought I had control over my life and that I had it great. But I destroyed everything I had built up and fought for in my life. I cut ties to all my drug-free friends and my family, so I hadn’t any friends but my drug mates. Every day revolved around one thing: my plan for getting the money I needed for drugs. I would do everything possible to get my amphetamine — it was the only thing in my life.” — Pat (A Drug-Addict).


Credit : Article written by Kunal Arora

#Drugs #Addiction #Medicine #Compulsive Behavior

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