Meaning of drugs abuse.
Drugs are chemical substances.
Pharmaceutical preparation or a naturally occurring substance used primarily to
bring about a change in the existing process or state (physiological,
psychological or biochemical) can be called a drug. In other words, any
chemical that alters the physical or mental functioning of an individual is a
drug.1 Drugs, by interaction change the biochemical systems of the body.
If a drug alters sensory perceptions, mood, thought process, feelings or
behaviour it is known as a psychoactive drug. Pharmacology is that branch of
science, which investigates drug actions.
Certain drugs are legally permitted and at
the same time others are illegal. Alcohol and tobacco are legally permitted as
certain drugs for medication. However, Medically used drugs can also be abused.
It can be used too much, too long, too often, with wrong combinations etc. As a
result, tolerance and dependency is produced illegal drugs like Heroin,
Cocaine, etc. are detrimental to both body and mind. These drugs are taken for
reasons other than medical, in an amount, strength, frequency manner that damages
the physical or mental functioning of an individual and is called as ‘Drug
abuse’. Its use leads to addiction, which develops tolerance and dependence
while others cause both physical and psychological dependence.
Classification of Drugs
Now a days
different classification systems of drugs exist. Broadly
can be divided into two major groups –
Legal drugs are those
drugs which are manufactured, produced, bought and sold within the confines of
the law. Drugs like aspirin cough syrups, laxatives, antacids, vitamins and certain
contraceptives etc. are legal drugs, which can be obtained without a
prescription from the physician. These non-prescription drugs are used for
hunger control, sedation, stimulation, dandruff, constipation, relief etc. and
are produced and marketed for billions of dollars throughout the world.
Drugs and medications dispensed by
pharmacists on prescriptions given by doctors and dentist are called
prescription drugs. They include analgesics, contraceptives, antibiotics,
medicated shampoos, stimulants, sedatives, antidepressants, anaesthetics etc.
At the same time many psychoactive prescription drugs like amphetamines, barbiturates,
narcotics etc. are abused to alter the state of consciousness and sensitivity
to pain etc. Huge quantities of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea are used,
abused and misused as social drugs. They are legally available psychoactive
drugs. Thus these are divided into 3 categories:
(c) Social drugs – nicotine, caffeine and
Illegal drugs are those,
which are not used legally but are abused. Largely it can be further divided
into two according to its potentiality to produce high and low dependence:
The amphetamines, cocaine, the depressants
and the narcotics etc. produce high dependency.
Marijuana and other hallucinogens produces
are varying in nature according to their ability to produce clinical
dependency. Heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturate etc. are strongly
dependence producing drugs. At the same time Marijuana, LSD, Psilocylin etc. are weekly dependence
Classification of Addictive Drugs
Drugs are divided according to its nature, origin, mechanism of action and
effects. They are studied under various categories, viz.,
1. Narcotic Analgesics
In Greek, the prefix ‘narco’ means to
deaden or to be numb. Analgesic means ‘pain killing’ or ‘pain relieving’. These
drugs slow down a person and create
feelings of euphoria. Dentists and doctors mostly prescribe these as
painkillers. Codeine. Morphine, Percodan etc. are important among them. Some
illegal drugs like Heroin and Brown sugar are narcotics. Medically the term
‘narcotic’ signifies opium and opium derivatives or synthetic products that
have opium-like effects. They arc rather painkillers with high addictive
Chemicals and drugs. which temporarily
stimulate mind and body and excite or speed up the central nervous system, are
called stimulants. Substances that people take to attain extraordinary powers
of’ mind and body are called “pep” pills. These are called “uppers”
because they lift the person up from despair and despondency and give them
mental balance, exhilaration and a super sensual feeling of happiness.
Stimulants are available in the form of pills and are prescribed by doctors.
But young men misuse them for getting a kind of intoxication and ecstasy
feeling. Commonly used stimulants
are Nicotine and Caffeine. The active and powerful stimulants are Cocaine and
Amphetamines. The younger generation is badly attracted to these drugs. ‘They
reach the brain through blood and upset the nervous system.
Depressants at times called
“downers”, depress or slow down the functions of mind and especially
the central nervous system, the heart beat and respiration. People resort to
chemicals to have relaxation, calmness and proper sleep.
Cannabis is the term, which refers to
marijuana and other drugs, produced from Indian limp-plant, cannabis sativa. It
has been cultivated for centuries in different parts of the world for its tough
fibre of the stem, for the oil in its seed, and for its psychoactive properties.
More than 60 cannabinoids can he prepared from cannabis plant, the important
drug under this category are charas(Hashish), Ganja(Marijauna), Bhaang etc.
Signs and Symptoms of
Addiction to any drug
may include these general characteristics:
• Feeling that one
needs the drug on a regular basis to have fun, relax or deal with your
• Giving up familiar
activities such as sports, homework, or hobbies;
• Sudden changes in
work or school attendance and quality of work or grades;
• Doing things one
normally wouldn’t do to obtain drugs, such as frequently borrowing money or
stealing items from employer, home or school;
uncharacteristic risks, such as driving under the influence or sexually risky behaviour;
• Anger outbursts,
acting irresponsibly and overall attitude change;
• Deterioration of
physical appearance and grooming;
• Wearing sunglasses
and/or long sleeve shirts frequently or at inappropriate times;
• No longer spending
time with friends who don’t use drugs and/or associating with known users;
• Engaging in secretive
or suspicious behaviours such as frequent trips to storage rooms, restroom,
• Needing to use more
of the drug of choice to achieve the same effects;
• Talking about drugs
all the time and pressuring others to use with him;
• Feeling exhausted,
depressed, hopeless, or suicidal.
Risk Factors for Drug
predispose teenagers to drug abuse. These include
• Family history of
• History of depression
and low self-esteem,
• Feelings of not
fitting in, and dropping out of the mainstream.
• A smoking habit has
likewise been correlated with substance abuse. Teens who smoke are eight times
more likely to use marijuana, and twenty-two times more likely to use cocaine.
Warning Signs a
Teenager has Problem of Drug Abuse
• Physical Signs: Fatigue,
repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, lasting cough.
• Emotional Signs: Personality
change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, poor
judgment, general lack of interest.
• Family Dynamics: Starting
arguments, negative attitude, breaking rules, withdrawing from family,
• School Behaviours’:
Decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences,
truancy, and discipline problems.
• Social Problems: New
friends, problems with the law, changes to less conventional styles in dress
and music, sudden disregard in physical appearance and requests for money that
are out of the ordinary.
Implications of Drug
• Risk to personal
safety (danger of death or injury by overdose, accident or aggression)
• Damage to health
(including brain damage, liver failure, mental problems etc.)
• Legal consequences
(risk of imprisonment, fines and criminal record).
• Destructive behaviour
(harm to self, family and friends).
• Drug dependency is
also a common cause of financial problems and difficulties at work or school.
• People may lie or
steal in order to continue using the drug, as a result, and may lose the trust
of their friends and family.
• They may feel shame
and guilt, due to repeated failures in trying to control their drug intake.
Alcoholism and Drug – Dependency – The Professional’s Master Guide, T. T.
Ranganathan Clinical Research Foundation, Madras 1989, p.1 .