Drugs

& all you need to know about them

The basics

Heroin Addiction usually starts with syringe like this one

Drug use around the globe is on the rise. And, with so many people using substances, the time for societal action is pressing. However, before we get into ideas of change, we must first discuss the origin of drugs, their public affects, and how they have become so popular. 

What are drugs?

Drugs are substances that affect the human body in such a way as to modify the bodily functions either physically or psychologically. Coming in many shapes and sizes, drugs may be more prevalent than you think. But, do the drugs sold by the local pharmacists affect us in the same way?

Drugs can be categorized as being illegal or legal. Legal drugs are drugs not prohibited by the CND (United Nations Single Convention on Drugs- An international treaty signed to ban production and supply of various drugs) and can be bought over-the-counter. To name a few, these include Alcohol, Nicotine; a psychoactive substance found in tobacco products, caffeine; found in tea, coffee and other soft drinks.

Drug classifications

Drugs can be categorized as being illegal or legal. Legal drugs are drugs not prohibited by the CND (United Nations Single Convention on Drugs) and can be bought over-the-counter. To name a few, these include Alcohol, Nicotine (a psychoactive substance found in tobacco products), and caffeine (found in tea, coffee, and other soft drinks).

On the contrary, an illegal drug should not be manufactured, purchased or sold. The consequences of producing or consuming illegal drugs are harmful to both the person and the society. To list a few, Cocaine, LSD, Methamphetamine, and Heroin are all illegal. Despite the illegality, these drugs are being consumed at a very high rate throughout the world.

Legal drugs, like common pharmaceutical medicines, are used to treat certain illnesses. From a mild headache to more serious diseases like cancer, drugs can help us. And we certainly need these medications. However, there is a clear distinction we must make between what is used for direct benefit, and what is being abused.

Types of drugs

Drugs are classified based on the effect produced. The categories are stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens and narcotics.

  • Stimulants: These are drugs that elevate your mood and produce Euphoria: a state of extreme happiness. Drugs in these class include amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine and nicotine.

 

  • Depressants: Depressants are the drugs that depress the activity of the central nervous system making the person less responsive to external stimuli. Alcohol is the major drug in this class. Others include solvents such as glue, benzodiazepines, and GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate).

 

  • Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens ordinarily cause hallucinations. Meaning, they make people experience things that are not actually real. For example, a person seeing someone that’s not actually present. These hallucinations can be auditory, visual, or tactile. Hallucinogens are divided into classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. Both drugs cause hallucinations. However, dissociative drugs also cause the person to feel all over the place and disconnected from their environment. Classic hallucinogens include LSD, Psilocybin, peyote, and DMT. Dissociative drugs include PCP, Ketamine, and Dextromethorphan.

 

  • Narcotics: Narcotics are the drugs that produce analgesia (pain relief), narcosis (state of stupor) and addiction. This class involves opiates and opioids. The most common narcotics include heroin, morphine, and Oxycodone. 

 

Some substances, like marijuana, do not fit into a specific category. Weed, the most commonly used illicit drug across the globe, has depressant, hallucinogenic and stimulant properties. So, pot does not precisely fit into one of the categories above.

 

How drugs are made

Many drugs come from plant sources (raw plants and synthetic plants). Codeine, some types of alcohol, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and morphine all come from plants. Codeine, morphine and oxycodone (narcotics), are used as analgesics to relieve severe pain in hospital settings. These commonly abused drugs also come from the different species of poppy plants (papaver somniferum).

THC, or more commonly cannabis comes from the cannabis plant. It is the most widely used illicit drug throughout the world. Cannabis plant is a flowering plant with 3 recognized species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

Cocaine, another widely illicit drug, is produced from the coca plant.

Vodka, a type of alcohol, is manufactured from multiple plant-based sources like potatoes, molasses, soybeans, grapes, rice, and sugar beets. It may also be distilled from grains like corn, rye and wheat.

Other drugs are purely synthesized in the laboratories like methamphetamines (commonly known as crystal meth).

Street drugs are drugs mixed with other substances so as to lengthen the effect of the drug. For example, cannabis being mixed with other herbs.

Plant based drugs are produced in areas where the plant of interest is grown as some of these plants require special conditions to grow. Other plants like the cannabis plant can grow anywhere but still most of it is produced in so called cannabis farms.

Synthetic drugs like amphetamines and ecstasy are made in hidden laboratories.

These drugs are largely imported from overseas brought in by professional group of people into countries. They are then sold by drug dealers or online through online pharmacies or shady social media pages to vulnerable group of people that includes teenagers and young adults in schools, colleges and also to homeless people. Other times, people often get drugs from their homes. For example, prescribed narcotics like morphine or sometimes cough suppressants containing opiates can be taken just to feel good and making the person addicted in the long run.

Drugs and addiction

What is addiction? Addiction is basically a brain disease that is exhibited by compulsive substance use despite the detrimental consequences to oneself and others of using it.

Increase in stressors is affecting mental health of people throughout the world. This has led to more and more people using substances and becoming addicted.

There are a multitude of reasons that compel a person to try substance and at the end of the day makes them addicted. One of the major reasons people try drugs at some point in their life is to gain pleasure and euphoria usually in the form of high. If their experience is really good, people redo substance again so that they can relive that same experience. Another reason is the availability of the drug. If the drug is easily available and accessible, people are more likely to use It. For example, if there are narcotic analgesics lying around in a house, a teenager is likely to get addicted to it.

Anxiety disorders are very prevalent worldwide and many people with this try substance use in order to feel better. Furthermore, peer pressure particularly in the teenage population is very common which makes them do drugs. Relieving physical symptoms such as pain, curiosity and boredom are other reasons people use drugs and can eventually become addicted.

It’s hard to decipher how drug addiction develops over time. Many people blame it to the pleasure the drug brings to the person. But it’s not that simple, because some people get addicted really easily than others maybe owing to each person’s slightly different physiology. Researches throughout the centuries have put forward one theory suggesting that drugs of abuse are associated with a rush of dopamine in our brain which makes us wanting more and more drugs next time.

There have been so many cases where people have destroyed their lives and others because of drug addiction. There are people who kill, steal, rob to get what they want: drugs. Higher authorities throughout the world should impose strict rules and regulations in order to decrease the drug usage and prevent people from ruining their lives and others.