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Drug type
Drug usage
Drug abuse
Drug treatment

Drugs can be used in many different ways, as detailed below.


Main article: Medication

People can use drugs to relieve pain or discomfort or to cure or prevent disease. However, not all medications are drugs.

Recreational drug use

Main article: Recreational drug use

Recreational drug use is the use of psychoactive drugs for recreational purposes rather than for work, medical or spiritual purposes, although the distinction is not always clear. At least one psychopharmacologist who has studied this field refers to it as the 'Fourth Drive,' arguing that the human instinct to seek mind-altering substances has so much force and persistence that it functions like the human drives for hunger, thirst and shelter.[1]

Responsible drug use

Main article: Responsible drug use

The concept of responsible drug use is that a person can use recreational drugs with reduced or eliminated risk of negatively affecting other parts of one's life or other people's lives. Advocates of this idea point to the many well-known artists and intellectuals who have used drugs, experimentally or otherwise, with few detrimental effects on their lives. Critics argue that the drugs are escapist--and dangerous, unpredictable and sometimes addictive; thus predicating the idea of a responsible use of drugs as an idea, ultimately disputable upon debate.

Gateway drug theory

Main article: Gateway drug theory

The gateway drug theory is the hypothesis that the use of soft drugs leads to a higher, future risk of hard drug use and crime.[2] The term is also used to describe introductory experiences to addictive substances. Some believe[3][4][5] tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana are gateway drugs.

Some research suggests that serious drug abusers adopt a typical drug use sequence with use of other drugs initiated before marijuana or alcohol.[6] There are many pharmacological similarities between various drugs of abuse. Individual social histories show that "hard" drug users do progress from one drug to another, but the reasons are not clear enough to generalise a gateway.[7]

Drug addiction

Main article: Drug addiction

Drug addiction is a condition characterized by compulsive drug intake, craving and seeking, despite what the majority of society may perceive as the negative consequences associated with drug use.[8]

Drug abuse

Main article: Drug abuse

Drug abuse has a wide range of definitions related to taking a psychoactive drug or performance enhancing drug for a non-therapeutic or non-medical effect. Some of the most commonly abused drugs include alcohol, tobacco, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and opiates, opioids, and their derivatives which typically have opioid agonist actions though some don't (e.g. morphine and it's derivatives like heroin (3,6-diacetylmorphine), codeine, dextromethorphan an NMDA antagonist opioid with no opioid activity.) Use of these drugs may lead to criminal penalty in addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, both strongly depending on local jurisdiction.[9]Although there is criticism on making drug use illegal and throwing non-violent drug offenders in jail. on Other definitions of drug abuse fall into four main categories: public health definitions, mass communication and vernacular usage, medical definitions, and political and criminal justice definitions.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

See also


  1. Siegel, Ronald K (2005). Intoxication: The universal studios drive for mind-altering substances, pp vii, Vermont: Park Street Press. ISBN 1-59477-069-7.
  2. The road to ruin? Sequences of initiation into drug use and offending by young people in Britain
  4. Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
  5. Drug Abuse Resistance Education
  6. Mackesy-Amiti ME, Fendrich M, Goldstein PJ (1997). Sequence of drug use among serious drug users: typical vs atypical progression.. Drug and alcohol dependence 45: 185.
  7. Contents | Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base | Institute of Medicine
  8. "Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide" Preface, National Institute on Drug Abuse
  9. (2002). Mosby's Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary. Sixth Edition. Drug abuse definition, p. 552. Nursing diagnoses, p. 2109. ISBN 0-323-01430-5.

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