A drug is a substance which may have medicinal, intoxicating, performance enhancing or other effects when taken or put into a human body or the body of another animal and is not considered a food or exclusively a food.
What is considered a drug rather than a food varies between cultures, and distinctions between drugs and foods and between kinds of drug are enshrined in laws which vary between jurisdictions and aim to restrict or prevent drug use.
Even within a jurisdiction, however, the status of a substance may be uncertain or contested with respect to both whether it is a drug and how it should be classified if at all. There is no single, precise definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and colloquial usage
In pharmacology, a drug is “a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being. Drugs may be prescribed for a limited duration, or on a regular basis for chronic disorders.
The molecules of drugs are complex, and most of them consist of many hydrogen and carbon atoms, a few oxygen atoms, and one or a few nitrogen atoms.
Drugs may also have no nitrogen atoms in it and many may have chlorine atoms in it, such as chloral hydrate.
Recreational drugs are chemical substances that affect the central nervous system, such as opioids or hallucinogens.
They may be used for perceived beneficial effects on perception, consciousness, personality, and behavior. Some drugs can cause addiction and/or habituation.
Drugs are usually distinguished from endogenous biochemicals by being introduced from outside the organism.
For example, insulin is a hormone that is synthesized in the body; it is called a hormone when it is synthesized by the pancreas inside the body, but if it is introduced into the body from outside, it is called a drug.
Many natural substances, such as beers, wines, and psychoactive mushrooms, blur the line between food and recreational drugs, as when ingested they affect the functioning of both mind and body and some substances normally considered drugs such as DMT Dimethyltryptamine are actually produced by the human body in trace amounts.
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.
Pharmaceutical drug. A medication or medicine is a drug taken to cure and or ameliorateany symptoms of an illness or medical condition, or may be used 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 (OTC) medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarkets without special restrictions, behind-the-counter (BTC), which are dispensed by a pharmacist without needing a doctor’s prescription, and prescription only medicines (POM), which must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional, usually a physician.
In the United Kingdom, BTC 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 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.
Spiritual and religious use
The spiritual and religious use of drugs has been occurring since the dawn of our species. Drugs that are considered to have spiritual or religious use are called entheogens. Some religions are based completely on the use of certain drugs. Entheogens are mostly hallucinogens, being either psychedelics or deliriants, but some are also stimulants and sedatives.
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. Similarly, Drugs such as steroids improve human physical capabilities and are sometimes used (legally or not) for this purpose, often by professional athletes
Recreational drug use
Recreational drugs use is the use of psychoactive substances to have fun, for the experience, or to enhance an already positive experience.
National laws prohibit the use of many different recreational drugs and medicinal drugs that have the potential for recreational use are heavily regulated. Many other recreational drugs on the other hand are legal, widely culturally accepted, and at the most have an age restriction on using and/or purchasing them. These include alcohol, tobacco, betel nut, and caffeine products in the west, and in other localised areas of the world drugs such as Khat are common.
Because of the legal status of many drugs, recreational drug use is controversial, with many governments not recognising spiritual or other perceived uses for drugs and classing them under illegal recreational use.
Drugs, both medicinal and recreational, can be administered in a number of ways. Many drugs can be administered in a variety of ways rather than just one. Bolus Inhaled, (breathed into the lungs), as an aerosol or dry powder. This includes smoking a substance.
Injected 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 suppository, primarily to treat vaginal infections. Medicines Are Legal Drugs If you’ve ever been sick and had to take medicine, you already know about one kind of drugs. Medicines are legal drugs, meaning doctors are allowed to prescribe them for patients, stores can sell them, and people are allowed to buy them. But it’s not legal, or safe, for people to use these medicines any way they want or to buy them from people who are selling them illegally.
Cigarettes and Alcohol Cigarettes and alcohol are two other kinds of legal drugs. (In the United States, adults 18 and older can buy cigarettes and those 21 and older can buy alcohol.) But smoking and excessive drinking are not healthy for adults and are off limits for kids.
Illegal Drugs When people talk about a “drug problem,” they usually mean abusing legal drugs or using illegal drugs, such as marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, crystal meth, and heroin. (Marijuana is generally an illegal drug, but some states allow doctors to recommend it to adults for certain illnesses.)
Why Are Illegal Drugs Dangerous? Illegal drugs aren’t good for anyone, but they are particularly bad for a kid or teen whose body is still growing. Illegal drugs can damage the brain, heart, and other important organs. Cocaine, for instance, can cause a heart attack — even in a kid or teen.
While using drugs, people are also less able to do well in school, sports, and other activities. It’s often harder to think clearly and make good decisions. People can do dumb or dangerous things that could hurt them — or other people — when they use drugs.
Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Drug Problems and Substance Abuse
Some people are able to use recreational or prescription drugs without ever experiencing negative consequences or addiction. For many others, substance use can cause problems at work, home, school, and in relationships, leaving you feeling isolated, helpless, or ashamed. If you’re worried about your own or a friend or family member’s drug use, it’s important to know that help is available. Learning about the nature of drug abuse and addiction—how it develops, what it looks like, and why it can have such a powerful hold—will give you a better understanding of the problem and how to best deal with it.