What are drugs? Summary of its characteristics and effects

The term “drugs” is widely used because this class of substances is a reality in which it is difficult to remain totally unaware.

However, not everyone knows exactly what a drug is and what the implications of the existence of these products are. here we will briefly explain what drugs are and what effects they can have.

    What is a drug?

    The term “drug” in Spanish has several meanings, but in the context of medicine and health sciences it is used to denote psychoactive substances, i.e. those that have the potential to interact with our nerve cells causing significant changes in our mental and behavioral processes.

    More precisely, it is most often used to talk about psychoactive substances that are used for therapeutic purposes, either in a recreational and leisure context, in situations where it seeks to generate altered states of consciousness in religious rituals., Or for any purpose other than improvement. the health of those who consume them (what differentiates this term of “drugs” used in English, which is also used to speak of psychotropic drugs).

    On the other hand, it should be noted that this definition of a drug as a psychoactive substance whose use is totally or partially foreign to medicine is in no way hermetic or infallible: there are aspects which lend themselves to ambiguity. . An indication of this is what we have seen: the fact that some people understand that a drug is a psychoactive element, and that for others it is part of it, those that are not used to solve health problems and are not used in a medical context (i.e. under the supervision of healthcare professionals).

    And this is it there are psychotropic drugs which are used in the treatment of patients and which are also illegal drugs in the recreational context, As for example with codeine. And it is also true that there is no clear dividing line between what serves to improve health and what simply serves to improve the well-being of a person at any given time. After all, many mind-altering drugs are sometimes used just to alleviate the symptoms of the disease, that is, to “reduce” some form of discomfort.

    But beyond the terminological and conceptual debates, it cannot be denied that a large number of substances considered to be drugs have enormous harmful potential for health, to such an extent that beyond constituting problems for the individuals who consume them, they constitute social problems.

    For example, alcohol consumption is closely linked to the high death rate that exists due to traffic accidents, as well as to many drugs in general (including ethanol) that lead to the occurrence of domestic violence. , the appearance of other diseases (some of them contagious, such as AIDS), and even the appearance of other forms of dependence that occur in parallel in the same person.

    Therefore, it is very important both to prevent the use of potentially harmful drugs and know how to detect in time the first indications that the use of a drug affects the person, Not only by structural physical symptoms in the human body, but basically by psychological symptoms, which occur earlier.

    What are the effects of these substances?

    As the definition of “drug” is very broad, there are a number of emotional, cognitive, physiological and behavioral effects that are common to this whole group of substances. However, the most common is that they produce changes in mood and / or state of consciousness, And in some cases, can lead to delusional thoughts or even hallucinations.

    Many of them, in addition, can produce chemical addictions, that is, changes in the brain (when they interact with it) that cause our whole nervous system to be put to work to keep getting rations of this psychoactive molecule.

    Are all drugs addictive?

    technically, not all substances considered to be drugs have a significant addictive potential.

    An example of this can be found, for example, in psilocybin, an alkaloid found in what we usually call hallucinogenic mushrooms, or in caffeine (consumption of drinks containing the latter substance can be addictive, but not at the level of change in the brain (this occurs with many hard and mind-altering drugs, but rather due to their taste and habit of drinking in certain settings).

    However, while it is good to know that drugs do not equate to addiction, it should be remembered that there are addictions without needing to use drugsAs is the case, for example, with pathological gambling, which occurs in those who become addicted to certain games of chance in which there are bets.

    How common is drug use?

    The use and development of drugs is an awareness that has existed since the beginnings of mankind, To the point that it was already occurring in nomadic tribes before the appearance of the first settlements and villages. This is why it is not surprising how much influence these products exert on societies around the world and on mass consumption.

    In fact, the drug-related economy rivals and escapes state power, and even in the case of legal drugs such as alcoholic beverages, their use has been and is so standardized that its legal status does not depend on its harmful potential, but on the practical problems that its ban would pose to any country.

    Thus, the most widely used drugs in the world are products that are relatively easy to find in almost any city and are as follows:

    • Alcohol
    • the tobacco
    • Cannabis
    • cocaine
    • MDMA

    Are you interested in starting a treatment process for drug addiction cases?

    If you are suffering from drug addiction problem, contact us to start a process of drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation from experts in this field. Fr CITA clinics we specialize in the professional support of people with addictions with and without substance, and we offer both psychology and medical therapy sessions as well as the possibility of entering our fully equipped residential module located in a natural environment, in the Barcelona area.

    Bibliographical references:

    • American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
    • Kalivas, PW; Volkow, ND (2005). The neural basis of addiction: a pathology of motivation and choice. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 162 (8): pages 1403-1413.
    • Lingeman, RR (1974). Drugs from AZ: A Dictionary. New York: McGraw-Hill.
    • Mahoney A, Evans J (November 6, 2008). “Comparison of drug classification systems”. Proceedings of the annual AMIA symposium: 1039.
    • Nutt, DJ; King, LA; Phillips, LD (2010). Drugs Harm the UK: A Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis. The Lancet. 376 (9752): p. 1558 – 1565.
    • Sànchez Turet, Miquel (1991). Drug addiction: terminological and taxonomic aspects. Yearbook of psychology, University of Barcelona, ​​49: p. 5-18.
    • Shader, RI; Divoll, M., Harmatz, JS (1981). Benzodiazepines: summary of pharmacokinetic properties. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

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