Drugs can be used in many different ways, as detailed below.
People can use drugs to relieve pain or discomfort or to cure or prevent disease. Not all medication is drugs however.
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.
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 peoples 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
The gateway drug theory is the belief that use of a lower classed drug can lead to the subsequent use of "harder", more dangerous drugs. The term is also used to describe introductory experiences to addictive substances. Some believe tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana are gateway drugs.
Some research suggests that serious drug abusers adopt an atypical drug use sequence with use of other drugs initiated before marijuana or alcohol. 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.
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, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methaqualone, and opium alkaloids. Use of these drugs may lead to criminal penalty in addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, both strongly depending on local jurisdiction. 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.
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- Gateway and Steppingstone Substances
- Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
- Drug Abuse Resistance Education
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- Contents | Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base | Institute of Medicine
- "Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide" Preface, National Institute on Drug Abuse
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