A drug is any substance, other than food, that changes the way our mind and body works. Drugs can affect the way we think, feel and act. They can be legal such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
Reasons some people use alcohol and drugs:
- To cope with stress
- To celebrate life events
- Because of physical or mental dependence
- To experiment
The effects of any given drug vary from person to person and occasion to occasion, and depend on:
- The amount taken
- Past experience with the substance
- The way it was taken. Examples are smoked, swallowed or injected
- The user’s gender, height and weight
There are three main categories of drugs:
- Hallucinogens cause the user to see, hear or feel things that do not exist, for example marijuana, magic mushrooms and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
- Stimulants speed up the body’s central nervous system, for example cocaine, crack, meth, ecstasy and caffeine
- Depressants slow down the body’s central nervous system, for example heroin, ketamine, Georgia Home Boy (GHB) and alcohol
Misuse of drugs, both legal and illegal, can have serious negative effects on your physical and mental health, relationships with family and friends, public safety, and may cause legal and economic problems.
Prescription and over-the-counter medication misuse is increasing among teens. One in five teens in Ontario has taken prescription drugs to get high and 75% of them say they stole the drugs from home.
There is a misperception that misusing prescription drugs is safer than using illicit drugs. However there can be dangerous short and long-term health consequences when prescription drugs are used incorrectly or by someone other than whom they were intended.