Active Ingredients

Drugs – Effect, Application & Risks


Most people think of drugs as intoxicants such as hashish, opium or heroin. However, everyday stimulants such as coffee and tea, alcohol and nicotine also fall under the category of drugs. In fact, the consequences of drug use are broad, ranging from mild stimulation of the mind to complete destruction of mind and body.

what are drugs

Unlike most medical terms, which derive from Greek and Latin, the word drug comes from Dutch. As a colonial power in Southeast Asia, the Netherlands dominated the spice trade for centuries. Spices and tea were brought to Europe dried. Some of these spices, such as nutmeg, have mind-altering so-called psychotropic abilities.

The history of drug use is about as old as the history of civilization. People learned that fermented grape juice makes fun around 6,000 BC. Wine is therefore older than beer, because brewing was only started in Egypt around 5,000 years ago, i.e. 3,000 BC. discovered.

Mushrooms to produce an intoxication were already being used in North Africa and in the vast Siberia. The mind-altering power of various mushrooms had also been recognized on the American continent. At the turn of the century, Indians began to enjoy tobacco.

Nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are widely accepted in today’s society. The classics such as tea and coffee have meanwhile also been joined by an incalculable number of so-called energy drinks. In addition to caffeine, they also contain the pick-me-ups taurine and guanine. Sometimes, especially in bars and nightclubs, energy drinks are mixed with alcohol, which increases the effect.

Medical application, effect & use

Medications such as psychotropics , stimulants, painkillers or sleeping pills are often misused as drugs. Conversely, some HIV or cancer patients actually use prohibited substances such as cannabis products, such as hashish, for therapeutic purposes.

In medical applications, opioids (e.g. morphine ) are also used legally as painkillers . Various drugs are often used as antidepressants in mental illnesses. Even LSD and MDMA are currently being researched in psychotherapy .

Various natives of South America, Africa and Asia use various drugs from plants in shamanism to fight illness and for spiritual cleansing of the body.

Herbal, natural & chemical-pharmaceutical drugs

Until a few years ago, the distinction between soft and hard drugs was popular. For example, hashish and marijuana fell under “soft”, while heroin, LSD or crack were counted among the hard drugs.

However, this classification is now considered outdated. Rather, the type and origin of the drugs now play a role. On the one hand there are drugs that are naturally produced from plants, such as cannabis products made from hemp or opiates made from opium poppies. On the other hand, there are numerous drugs available today that are put together in laboratories, the so-called designer drugs.

Since a 2007 study by David Nutt, drugs have been ranked according to their harm to the user, level of addiction, and social harm. According to this, heroin is considered the most dangerous drug with a harm potential of 8.32 on a nine-point scale. In a follow-up study, which gave more space to social harm, alcohol came out on top, followed by heroin.

Risks, side effects & dangers

A fundamental problem with drugs is the potential for addiction. Even taking heroin once can lead to addiction. But regular use of drugs can have long-term devastating effects on the mind or body.

For example, hashish has a lower addictive potential than alcohol or nicotine . However, prolonged regular use of the cannabis product can lead to dramatic personality changes or even to psychosis . These can also be the worst effects of severe alcohol addiction. In addition, severe alcoholism also leads to physical deterioration.

These are also the consequences of heroin addiction, with the difference that the deterioration progresses much faster. Another danger of heroin abuse is much more threatening: Since the potential for addiction is so great and the body needs higher doses from trip to trip in order to reach the desired level of intoxication, an overdose, the “golden shot”, can easily occur.

A very special danger emanates from the growing market for designer drugs (eg crystal meth). Because these are entirely new compounds, their long-term effects are often unclear.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.