Introduction to drugs


A drug is a substance that when put into the body can change the way the body works.

A "soft" drug is less addictive and consindered less harmful to the body and to society as a whole.

A "hard" drug is harshly addictive and considered much more harmful to the body and society in general.

Psychoactive drugs are drugs that change your feelings, your perceptions and/or your behaviour. Psychoactive drugs bring about a chemical reaction in the brain causing feelings, thoughts and behaviour to be affected.

A legal drug is a drug that can be obtained either by prescription or over the counter and used in the prescribed and appropriate.

An illegal drug is a drug that is not approved by law for use in this country.

Licit drug use

1. Licit drug use means that a drug is used legally.
2. Legal use of drugs includes:
a. medicines used for illness
b. few other legal drugs (alcohol, tobacco and caffeine)
3. Licit use of drugs includes:
a. over-the-counter drugs used as directed
b. prescription medicines used by intended person for prescribed usage

Illicit drug use

1. Illicit drug use occurs when drugs are used in an illegal manner. (i.e. heroin)
2. Illicit drug use includes:
a. using a drug for an improper purpose (sleeping pills to get high or pain pills for relaxation or sleep)
b. using a product or substance not intended to be a drug in a way which produces a drug-like state (glues, petrol)

The term decriminalisation means to bring the drug problem out of the scope of penal (criminal) law. Instead the government has to regulate the amount and methods of distribution of the drug. The consequence of decriminalisation of certain drugs means not only that society cannot suppress the trafficking of those drugs, but that society no longer has a law or lever to use to direct drug addicts towards help or treatment.

Legalisation goes hand in hand with the decriminalisation of a drug. Legalisation is the process by which a drug that was previously legislated against, no longer is restricted in any way by the law. Legalisation of a drug implies no mandatory governmental control or management of the drug. The consequence of legalisation would be that society would be subjected to an increased pressure from the drugs market.

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