For other uses, see Drug (disambiguation).
A drug is any substance (other than food that provides nutritional support) that, when inhaled, injected, smoked, consumed, absorbed via a patch on the skin, or dissolved under the tongue causes a temporary physiological (and often psychological) change in the body.
In pharmacology, 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.[verification needed] 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. They include alcohol, a depressant (and a stimulant in small quantities), and the stimulantsnicotine and caffeine. These three are the most widely consumed psychoactive drugs worldwide and are also considered recreational drugs since they are used for pleasure rather than medicinal purposes. Other recreational drugs include hallucinogens, opiates and amphetamines and some of these are also used in spiritual or religious settings. Some drugs can cause addiction and all drugs can have 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 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.
Main articles: Pharmaceutical drug and Drug class
A medication or medicine is a drug taken to cure or ameliorate any symptoms of an illness or medical condition. The use may also be as 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 categorised 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. 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 groups drugs according to their solubility and permeability or absorption properties.
Spiritual and religious use
Main article: Entheogen
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 anesthetic. 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.
Silene undulata is regarded by the Xhosa people as a sacred plant and used as an entheogen. Its root is traditionally used to induce vivid (and according to the Xhosa, prophetic) lucid dreams during the initiation process of shamans, classifying it a naturally occurring oneirogen similar to the more well-known dream herb Calea ternifolia.
Peyote a small spineless cactus has been a major source of psychedelic mescaline and has probably been used by Native Americans for at least five thousand years. Most mescaline is now obtained from a few species of columnar cacti in particular from San Pedro and not from the vulnerable peyote.
The entheogenic use of cannabis has also been widely practised  for centuries.Rastafari use marijuana (ganja) as a sacrament in their religious ceremonies.
Psychedelic mushrooms (psilocybin mushrooms), commonly called magic mushrooms or shrooms have also long been used as entheogens.
Smart drugs and designer drugs
Main articles: Nootropic and Designer drug
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, learning, and many other things. Some nootropics are now beginning to be used to treat certain diseases such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. They are also commonly used to regain brain function lost during aging.
Other drugs known as designer drugs are produced. An early example of what today would be labelled a 'designer drug' was LSD, which was synthesised from ergot. Other examples include analogs 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 synthesised 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.
Synthetic cannabinoids have been produced for a longer period of time and are used in the designer drug synthetic cannabis.
Recreational drug use
Main article: Recreational drug use
Further information: Prohibition of drugs
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.
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.
There are a number of legal intoxicants commonly called legal highs that are used recreationally. The most widely used of these is alcohol.
Administration of drugs
All drugs, can be administered via a number of routes, and many can be administered by more than one.
- Bolus is the administration of a medication, drug or other compound that is given to raise its concentration in blood to an effective level. The administration can be given intravenously, by intramuscular, intrathecal or subcutaneous injection.
- Inhaled, (breathed into the lungs), as an aerosol or dry powder. (This includes smoking a substance)
- Injection as a solution, suspension or emulsion either: intramuscular, intravenous, intraperitoneal, intraosseous.
- Insufflation, or snorted into the nose.
- Orally, as a liquid or solid, that is absorbed through the intestines.
- Rectally as a suppository, that is absorbed by the rectum or colon.
- Sublingually, diffusing into the blood through tissues under the tongue.
- Topically, usually as a cream or ointment. A drug administered in this manner may be given to act locally or systemically.
- Vaginally as a pessary, primarily to treat vaginal infections.
Control of drugs
There are numerous governmental offices in many countries that deal with the control and oversee of drug manufacture and use, and the implementation of various drug laws. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is an international treaty brought about in 1961 to prohibit the use of narcotics save for those used in medical research and treatment. In 1971, a second treaty the Convention on Psychotropic Substances had to be introduced to deal with newer recreational psychoactive and psychedelic drugs.
The legal status of Salvia divinorum varies in many countries and even in states within the United States. Where it is legislated against the degree of prohibition also varies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States is a federal agency responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-countermedications, vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices, cosmetics, animal foods and veterinary drugs.
- Richard J. Miller (2014). Drugged: the science and culture behind psychotropic drugs. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-995797-2.
- DrugBank, a database of 4800 drugs and 2500 protein drug targets
- "Drugs", BBC Radio 4 discussion with Richard Davenport-Hines, Sadie Plant and Mike Jay (In Our Time, May 23, 2002)
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Substance abuse, or drug abuse, happens when a person uses a drug over and over again, in ways that hurt their health. The person is using the drug to change his or her mood or to feel better, not for any healthy reason. Sometimes when the person uses the drug for a long time, they will start to act differently. Some of the drugs are illegal to have or use, or can have certain limits that the person does not follow. Someone who thinks that they need a drug is called an addict.
Is it substance abuse?[change | change source]
Substance abuse can have different symptoms in different people. “Drug abuse” is not used in the DSM or ICD. In the DSM, the term “substance abuse” is used instead to mean the misuse of one of ten different types of drugs. A person can also become dependent on drugs. Repetitive use of a drug can cause dependence as well as tolerance. Tolerance happens when it takes more of a drug to produce the same effect than a previous time.
The term “drug misuse” is sometimes used when the drug being used is a prescription medication that are classified as sedatives (medicines that make someone calm), anxiolytics (medicines that make someone less worried or anxious), analgesics (medicines that reduce pain), or stimulants (medicines that give someone more energy). Someone who abuses there drugs may have to illegally buy them from someone who gets them from a doctor.
Not everyone agrees on the definition of substance abuse. Different countries have different rules for what is a drug and what drugs are illegal. People also do not agree about what is abuse. In most Western countries, one glass of wine is acceptable, but drinking more than one bottle at once is abuse. To some people, any drinking can be seen as abuse. In the United States, any use of marijuana is illegal, except in a few states where marijuana can be given by a doctor.
What causes people to abuse substances?[change | change source]
In many cases, when a person is using drugs, their thinking and behaviors change. Sometimes, they commit crimes while using drugs. They may do things that are not safe, like drive a car while drunk. When people abuse drugs over a longer time, their personalities often change as well. The people who abuse drugs are often addicted. Since many of these drugs are illegal, very often drug abusers have problems with the law.
There are two major ideas about why people abuse drugs. One is that a person’s genes cause them to be likely to become dependent on drugs. In this case, the drug abuse is learned from someone else, usually a family member or friend. The other major idea is that drug use is a habit that becomes harmful. In this case, if a person becomes addicted, they begin to abuse the drug.
What kind of drugs are abused?[change | change source]
People abuse drugs in many different ways, including:
Illegal drugs[change | change source]
Some of the most commonly abused illegal drugs are:
Legal drugs and medicines[change | change source]
Some of the most commonly abused legal drugs and medicines are:
Substance abuse, depression, and suicide[change | change source]
People who abuse drugs have a high rate of suicide. This is because of the changes in the brain caused by drugs, both when they are being used and the changes they cause over time. Another cause is the loss of family and friends because of the drug abuse. In the United States, about 30% of all people who perform suicide have abused alcohol at some point.
This table explains more about how some commonly abused drugs relate to depression and suicide:
|Substance abused||Effects related to suicide|
|Alcohol||People who misuse alcohol are more likely to have a number of mental health disorders. Alcoholics have a very high suicide rate. Suicide from alcoholism is more common in older adults. If a person drinks 6 or more drinks per day, they are six times more likely to commit suicide. Many heavy drinkers have major depressive disorder, and heavy drinking itself can cause major depressive disorder in a lot of alcoholics.|
|Benzodiazepines||People are more likely to be depressed, and have a higher risk of suicide, if they have been abusing benzodiazepines (like Xanax) or using them for a long time. Depressed adolescents who were taking benzodiazepines were much more likely to hurt themselves or kill themselves.|
|Cigarettesmoking||Many studies have shown a link between smoking, thinking about suicide, and suicide attempts. In studies done with 50,000 nurses and 300,000 male U.S. Armysoldiers, the people who smoked between 1 to 24 cigarettes per day had twice the suicide risk, and people who smoked 25 cigarettes or more had 4 times the suicide risk, as compared with those who had never smoked.|
|Cocaine||Misuse of drugs such as cocaine often has a link with suicide. When cocaine's effects wear off, people go through cocaine withdrawal. During this time, many people feel very bad. Suicide is most likely to happen during this time in people who use a lot of cocaine or are addicted. In younger adults, suicide more commonly happens when two or more drugs are taken together.|
|Crystal meth||Crystal meth use has a strong link with depression and suicide, as well as a range of other bad effects on physical and mental health.|
|Heroin||3% to 35% of deaths among heroin users are thought to be from suicide. Overall, heroin users are 14 times more likely than people who do not use heroin to die from suicide.|
Treating substance abuse[change | change source]
Treatment of substance abuse can include both therapy and medicine. Therapy for substance abuse helps people not use drugs when they feel they need to. For children and young adults, both the child and the family may have therapy. The child will learn how to not abuse, and the family will learn how to help the child. The organization Alcoholics Anonymous helps people with alcohol abuse.
For some kinds of substance abuse, medicine can be used to help. Some of these medicines, such as methadone, stop the drug from working in the brain. Other medicines can cause people to feel ill if they use the substance that they abuse.
Many substances can cause withdrawal. Withdrawal is a group of things that happen when someone who regularly takes a drug stops using that drug. For someone to have withdrawal, they must be addicted to the drug. Different drugs cause different things to happen during withdrawal. They can also cause different amounts of trouble for the person in withdrawal. Withdrawal for some drugs, like heroin and other opiates, can be dangerous and should be done with someone taking care of the person in withdrawal.
Likelihood[change | change source]
About 9% of Americans have a substance abuse issue. Young people are the most likely to experiment with and abuse drugs. Drug abuse affects about 5% of adolescents. More men than women have substance abuse disorder, though women are more likely to have an issue with abusing prescription medication. Children who have parents with substance abuse issues are more likely to have a substance abuse issue when they grow up.
Special populations[change | change source]
Certain groups of people are more likely to develop substance abuse issues. One group is immigrants or other people who have left their home country. They often have issues in their new country, and some use drugs as a way to feel better. Another group that is at risk is homeless children. They will use drugs to become closer to each other. A third group that is at risk is musicians. They may use stimulants to make themselves more active and happy. Singers can also hurt themselves if they use drugs that are inhaled.
History[change | change source]
The first official definition for substance abuse was made in 1932 by the American Psychiatric Association. This definition was only used for when the substance was illegal and not being used as medicine. In 1966, the American Medical Association defined abuse as the drug being given by someone to themselves without a doctor.
The first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) had drug abuse as a symptom of other psychological issues. In the third edition, substance abuse was made its own issue. The DSM also has drug abuse as a different issue than drug dependence, which is defined as compulsive use of a drug.
Society and culture[change | change source]
Most countries have laws that make having or using certain drugs illegal. The rules for these drugs can be different between countries or in different parts of the same country. Many drugs that are illegal in several places are sold to make money for groups known as drug cartels.
Drug abuse can also cause issues in a country’s economy. According to the European Union, about 2.5 billion dollars are lost each year because of people abusing drugs. This loss comes from people not going to work or having to go to the hospital because of side effects of the drug. In the United Kingdom, about 29 billion dollars a year are lost. This number does not include the cost of police or other law enforcement. In the United States, the cost was 181 billion dollars in 2002. This number includes costs because of health issues, loss of work, law enforcement, and welfare programs.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
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- ↑Barrett SP, Meisner JR, Stewart SH (November 2008). "What constitutes prescription drug misuse? Problems and pitfalls of current conceptualizations" (PDF). Curr Drug Abuse Rev 1 (3): 255–62.
- ↑"Addiction is a Chronic Disease". http://archives.drugabuse.gov/about/welcome/aboutdrugabuse/chronicdisease.
- ↑ 4.04.1"Commonly Abused drugs Charts". DrugAbuse.gov. National Institute on Drug Abuse. October 2015. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
- ↑Isralowitz, Richard (2004). Drug use: a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-1-57607-708-5.
- ↑Chignon JM, Cortes MJ, Martin P, Chabannes JP (July 1998). "[Attempted suicide and alcohol dependence: results of an epidemiologic survey]" (in French). Encephale24 (4): 347–54. PMID 9809240.
- ↑O'Donohue, William T.; R. Byrd, Michelle; Cummings, Nicholas A.; Henderson, Deborah P. (2005). Behavioral integrative care: treatments that work in the primary care setting. New York: Brunner-Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-415-94946-0.
- ↑Ayd, Frank J (31 May 2000). Lexicon of psychiatry, neurology, and the neurosciences. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Williams Wilkins. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-7817-2468-5.
- ↑Fergusson DM, Boden JM, Horwood LJ (March 2009). "Tests of causal links between alcohol abuse or dependence and major depression". Arch. Gen. Psychiatry66 (3): 260–6. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2008.543. PMID 19255375. http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=19255375.
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- ↑Iwasaki M, Akechi T, Uchitomi Y, Tsugane S (April 2005). "Cigarette Smoking and Completed Suicide among Middle-aged Men: A Population-based Cohort Study in Japan". Annals of Epidemiology15 (4): 286–92. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2004.08.011. PMID 15780776.
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- ↑Hemenway D, Solnick SJ, Colditz GA (February 1993). "Smoking and suicide among nurses". American journal of public health83 (2): 249–51. doi:10.2105/AJPH.83.2.249. PMC 1694571. PMID 8427332.
- ↑Miller M, Hemenway D, Bell NS, Yore MM, Amoroso PJ (June 2000). "Cigarette smoking and suicide: a prospective study of 300,000 male active-duty Army soldiers". American Journal of Epidemiology151 (11): 1060–3. PMID 10873129.
- ↑Darke, S.; Kaye, S.; McKetin, R.; Duflou, J. (May 2008). "Major physical and psychological harms of methamphetamine use". Drug Alcohol Rev27 (3): 253–62. doi:10.1080/09595230801923702. PMID 18368606.
- ↑Darke S, Ross J (November 2002). "Suicide among heroin users: rates, risk factors and methods". Addiction97 (11): 1383–94. doi:10.1046/j.1360-0443.2002.00214.x. PMID 12410779. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/openurl?genre=article&sid=nlm:pubmed&issn=0965-2140&date=2002&volume=97&issue=11&spage=1383.
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- ↑The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse: Current Pharmacological Treatment Available for Alchhol Abuse. Copyright 2006-2013.
- ↑National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2005). Module 10F: Immigrants, refugees, and alcohol. In NIAAA: Social work education for the prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorders (NIH publication). Washington, D.C.
- ↑Cottrell-Boyce, Joe (2010). "THE ROLE OF SOLVENTS IN THE LIVES OF STREET CHILDREN" (PDF). African Journal of Drug & Alcohol Studies 9 (2): 93–102. doi:10.4314/ajdas.v9i2.64142. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- ↑Breitenfeld D., Thaller V., Perić B., Jagetic N., Hadžić D., Breitenfeld T. (2008). "Substance abuse in performing musicians". Alcoholism: Journal on Alcoholism and Related Addictions 44 (1): 37–42.
- ↑Glasscote, R.M., Sussex, J.N., Jaffe, J.H., Ball, J., Brill, L. (1932). The Treatment of Drug Abuse for people like you...: Programs, Problems, Prospects. Washington, D.C.: Joint Information Service of the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association for Mental Health.