What is a drug?

Many substances can be referred to as drugs, drugs can be prescribed medicines or illegal substances. When someone is talking about drugs they are talking about chemicals that act on the brain and they can change the way a person thinks, feels or how they behave. They type of drugs are called psychoactive drugs. Drugs can come from many sources , some come from natural sources such as  plants. As an example nicotine in the  tobacco, caffeine in coffee, cocaine from the cocoa plant and marijuana is the leaf, buds and seeds head of the cannabis plant. Fungi otherwise called “Magic Mushrooms” and some types of cactus plants are also considered as drugs because they can cause hallucinations (which is seeing or hearing things that are not real). In saying this legal  medicines are made from from natural and artificial chemicals.  There are three main types of drug,these are classified according to the effect the drug has on the brain and on your nervous system, these are depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens.

The difference between legal and illegal drugs  

All ‘Legal” drugs are under the control of the government, the government is in control of how accessible the drug is or how easy the drug is to get as well as the quality of the drug and the price. With illegal drugs no one cares about your safety at all. With illegally made drugs some of the content put in these drugs can be poisonous and harmful. Sometimes with illegally made drugs other substances such as Talcum Powder, sugar and caffeine has been added, this means that someone using an illegal drug can never be sure of the strength of the drug or if dangerous toxins has been mixed into the drug.

What are the Common types of drugs?

Depressant – Depressant drugs don’t commonly make a person feel depressed or sad, Depressants is a drug that is used to slow down messages being sent to and from the brain. Depressants affect the ability to think clearly  and they also the affect a person’s ability to have control over some parts of their body. This drug slows down a persons ability to react and respond quickly, this is really dangerous when the person needs to be fully alert ie. crossing a busy road. In small quantities depressants can make you feel relaxed and more comfortable.In larger quantities depressants have the power to cause unconsciousness, vomiting and death.

Depressants Include:


*Some medicines such as benzodiazephines or “Benzo’s” which some people use to help them feel more relaxed or to help them get to sleep.

* Heroin and some medicines.

*Even the fumes from some types of common chemicals.

Stimulant – Stimulants are the opposite to depressants, they act on your brain and nervous system to speed up the messages going to and from the brain. Stimulants can make someone feel more alert. more awake and more confident. Stimulants increase your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Other physical effects include feeling less hungry, feeling restless, talking more, making the pupils in your eyes larger and making it really difficult for you to sleep. Larger quantities of stimulants can actually over stimulate someone, this can cause feelings of stress, worry and panic. Other symptoms are fits and seizures, headaches, stomach cramps, anger and disturbing thoughts.

Stimulants Include:

*Caffeine in coffee, tea and coco cola drinks and energy drinks.

*Some prescribed medicines.

*Nicotine in tobacco (Despite smokers using it to relax).

*Amphetamines, including illegal Amphetamines otherwise known as “Speed”.



Hallucinogens – This drug can cause people to see or hear things that are not actually there. This drug can also cause people to be less hungry, to feel or be more active, talk, laugh or sweat more and to cause your pupils to dilate. Other Symptoms include disturbing thoughts, acting strangely, stomach cramps and Nausea.

Hallucinogens Include:

*Illegal drugs such as LSD

*Some plants such as ‘Magic Mushrooms’

*Large amounts of Cannabis

*Large amounts of Ecstasy

What can cause someone to do drugs?

Drugs are used for many reasons. Most people do drugs because they want to change the way that they are feeling, because they want to feel better or different. They might use drugs because they think that drug will help them in some way. This applies to both illegal and legal drugs. Some people do drugs to relax, as a way to have fun, to be part of a group, out of curiosity and to escape from physical or emotional problems or pain. People still choose to do drugs even though the effects from the use of them can be totally opposite to why people use them in the first place.

What is a drug overdose?

A drug overdose happens when the amount of the drug taken is greater than the body’s ability to deal with the drug. An overdose can result in death.

What can you do to help someone with a Drug Addiction?

If you suspect that a friend or family member has a drug problem, here are a few things you can do:

Speak up. Talk to the person about your concerns, and offer your help and support, without being judgemental. The earlier addiction is treated, the better. Don’t wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom! Be prepared for excuses and denial by listing specific examples of your loved one’s behaviour that has you worried.

Take care of yourself. Don’t get so caught up in someone else’s drug problem that you neglect your own needs. Make sure you have people you can talk to and lean on for support. And stay safe. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations.

Avoid self-blame. You can support a person with a Drug addiction and encourage treatment, but you can’t force an addict to change. You can’t control your loved one’s decisions. Let the person accept responsibility for his or her actions, an essential step along the way to recovery for drug addiction.

Warning Signs Of Drug Abuse (This could apply to yourself or someone else)

Drug abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or family member might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:

Physical Warning Signs of Drug Abuse

*Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual

*Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain

*Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits

*Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing

*Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination

Behavioural Signs Of Drug Abuse

*Drop in attendance and performance at work or school

*Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.

*Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviours

*Sudden change in friends, favourite hangouts, and hobbies

*Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)

Physiological Signs Of Drug Abuse

*Unexplained change in personality or attitude
*Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry out bursts
*Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
*Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
*Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason
What Can you do to help yourself if you have an Drug Addiction?

Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, one that takes tremendous courage and strength. Facing your addiction without minimizing the problem or making excuses can feel frightening and overwhelming, but recovery is within reach. If you’re ready to make a change and willing to seek help, you can overcome your addiction and build a satisfying, drug-free life for yourself.

Don’t try to go it alone; it’s all too easy to get discouraged and rationalize “just one more” hit or pill. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Recovering from drug addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance.

Support can come from:

*family members

*close friends

*therapists or counselors

*other recovering addicts

*healthcare providers.

Remember Support is essential to Drug Addiction recovery.


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