Drugs Information and Awareness

By definition, a drug is any substance that is capable of altering the body's normal function. While some drugs are medicinal and legal to use when prescribed, other drugs are almost always illegal to use. Some drugs may cause habituation or addiction, a condition in which the user of the drug experiences unpleasant side effects if he or she does not continue taking the drug regularly. Drugs that are prescribed by doctors and used for medicinal purposes are known as pharmaceutical drugs. On the other hand, drugs used illegal for pleasure are known as recreational drugs. Most drugs, regardless of whether they are pharmaceutical or recreational, cause at least some physical or mental side effects when consumed.

Pharmaceutical drugs are most often prescribed to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose a disease. They may also be prescribed to enhance a patient's mental or physical well-being. While some pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed for only a few days at a time, others are prescribed for long-term use to treat a chronic condition, such as arthritis or diabetes. Recreational drugs are typically used to change a person's behavior, personality, consciousness, or perception. Most recreational drugs work by affecting the central nervous system.

The chemicals that compose some drugs, such as insulin, are also produced naturally within the body. However, the insulin the body produces naturally is not considered a drug because it doesn't originate from outside of the organism. Therefore, it is possible for the exact same chemical to be both a drug and a natural substance based on how it is formed. Some substances, such as psychoactive mushrooms and wine, may be considered either a food or the drug depending on how they are used. In most cases, wine is considered to be food unless it is consumed to the point of intoxication.

Whether a drug is recreational or pharmaceutical, it can be administered to the patient or user in at least one of several ways. Some drugs, such as asthma medication, are often inhaled as a dry powder or an aerosol. Drugs that are smoked, such as tobacco and marijuana, also fall under this category. Other drugs, such as insulin and heroin, are injected into the muscles or veins. Some drugs, like cocaine or afrin, may be snorted into the nose. Yet other drugs are taken orally as a solid or a liquid. Examples of orally administered drugs include cough syrup and tablets. Creams and ointments are usually absorbed topically after being applied to the patient's skin and suppositories are administered rectally or vaginally. Finally, a few drugs are placed under the tongue and absorbed through the tissue and into the blood.

Recreational drugs are often smoked, taken orally, or snorted into the nose. Some recreational drugs are also injected. Many recreational drugs are heavily regulated or prohibited by law, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Other recreational drugs are culturally acceptable and may only have an age restriction, such as alcohol and tobacco. Yet another recreational drug, caffeine, is legal in the United States and doesn't have any age restriction. Individuals who use recreational drugs in illegal ways may incur penalties, such as fines and jail time. Individuals who sell illegal drugs often incur more severe penalties, such as prison sentences.

For more general information about pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, consult the links below.