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 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 reclassified before to 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 udergo several trials in order to be considered safe for humans.
We will see more about drug effects and trials in the questions.