There are lots of stories surrounding drugs and drug use. The 'evil drug pusher', the student smoking cannabis, the homeless man injecting himself with heroine... we all have our own images of a drug user.
But in fact, we have all taken drugs at some point in our lives - medicines, coffee (caffeine), alcohol and cigarettes are all drugs.
What's your definition of a drug?
The dictionary says a drug is:
1. any substance used in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of disease.
2. a chemical substance... taken for the effects it produces.
There are a certain group of drugs used for non-medical reasons (usually) that fit into the 2nd description above. They are taken for the effect they have on the user.
- Drugs are substances (things) that affect the way a person thinks, acts or feels. A lot of substances fall into this category, from coffee, paracetamol, cigarettes and alcohol to heroin or crack cocaine
People use drugs for different reasons: for energy, to relax, out of curiosity, to have fun, to rebel, to escape or cope with difficulty and pain
The trade-off is that they usually have a negative side effect on your body and mind
The legal result of getting caught with drugs are often more serious than many young people expect. A drug related conviction could send you to prison and limit your opportunities in life, such as travelling to certain countries or working in certain jobs. Never buy drugs for friends or share them with friends. In law, this is seen as supply, and you face the same penalties as any drug dealer
It is difficult to predict how a drug will affect you. It will depend on many factors, including the type of drug you use, the way it is taken, how often and where you use it and your physical and mental state
Addiction and Dependence
The regular use of some drugs will usually mean that more and more is needed to get the same effect
When a person's whole life starts to revolve around the drug or when they depend on the drug to get them through the day, they have reached a state of dependence
An addiction can develop very slowly and unnoticeably in some people, while for others it can develop very quickly
A person may experience nasty physical and psychological effects when they stop using a drug they are addicted to, however these feelings will pass with time
For more information about specific drugs, including their composition, effects and risks, have a look at the listed websites and contacts.
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Information, support and treatment around drug and alcohol use
Information and advice about drugs
Information about solvent and volatile substance abuse in a range of formats to suit your needs
Stars National Initiative
Support and guidance for children/young people with parents who have drug and alcohol problems