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Understand Drugs and Drug Trials

Worksheet Overview

There are several different types of drugs - some legal (such as caffeine and alcohol) and some illegal (such as ketamines and cannabis). But there are also drugs that are a lot more complicated,  for example it is not legal for you to have chemotherapy drugs unless they are prescribed to you, or you have a pharmaceutical licence to make them. Today, we will be looking at some of the different types of drugs and how they affect your body. 


Drugs can be harmful, but also beneficial when they are medicinal and prescribed by a doctor. There are five types of drugs:


depressants which slow down the brain

hallucinogens which change perception of sight and hearing

painkillers which stop nerve impulses so pain is reduced or not felt at all

performance enhancers which develop muscles

stimulants which speed up the brain


Some drugs can be addictive,  for example nicotine in tobacco. Becoming addicted to a drug means it is really hard to give it up, so it is better not to start using it! Withdrawal symptoms (such as shaking or bad temper) may be observed. In the case of illegal (not medicinal) drugs, rehabilitation is often needed to give them up. This means addicts need to stay in special institutions to prevent them gaining access to a drug, and they are under medical care. Tolerance is built up when a drug has been taken for a long time and bigger doses are needed to feel its effects.


Classification of drugs

There are three classes of drugs, depending on how dangerous they are:


Class A: Seven years in prison and a fine for possession, life sentence for supplying. Examples include heroin, methadone, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy

Class B: Five years in prison and a fine for possession, 14 years in prison for supplying. Examples include amphetamines and barbiturates

Class C: Two years in prison and a fine for possession, 5 years in prison for supplying. Examples include anabolic steroids, valium and cannabis


Cannabis, specifically, had been classified before as Class B, because there are very dangerous types of cannabis that can cause mental illness.


Even legal drugs, like nicotine and alcohol, can have severe effects. Medicinal drugs are sometimes misused and that can lead to extreme consequences. Medicinal drugs need to undergo several trials in order to be considered safe for humans.

We will see more about drug effects and trials in the questions.

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