Drug

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Caffeine is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances in the world.
See also medications

A drug is any biological substance, either synthetic or non-synthetic, that is taken mainly for non-dietary needs. It is usually synthesized outside an organism, but introduced into an organism to produce its action. That is, when taken into the organism's body, it will produce some effects or alter some bodily functions, such as relieving symptoms, curing diseases or used as preventive medicine or any other purposes.

To many people the word "drug" primarily means "illegal recreational drugs" or narcotic drugs that induce euphoria or alter one's mind.

Note that natural endogenous biochemicals (such as hormones) can bind to the same receptor in the cell, producing the same effect as a drug. Thus, drug is merely an artificial definition that distinguishes whether that molecule is synthesized within an organism or outside an organism. For instance, insulin is a hormone that is synthesized in the pancreas, but if it is introduced into the body from outside it is considered as a drug.

It is a substance which is not food,[1] and which, when ingested, affects the functioning of the mind, or the body, or both. However, under the philosophy of Chinese medicine, food is also considered a drug as it affects particular parts of body and cures some diseases. Thus, food does satisfy the above definition of drug so long as ingestion of it would alter some bodily functions.

Administration

Drugs, both medications and recreational can be administered in a number of ways,

  • Orally, as a liquid or solid (pill), that is absorbed through the gut.
  • Inhaled, as a vapour.
  • Injected as a liquid either intramuscular or intravenous.
  • Rectally as a pill, that is absorbed by the colon.
  • Bolus, a substance into the stomach to dissolve slowly.

Medication

For more information, see: Medication.

A medication is a drug taken to cure and reduce any symptoms of an illness or medical condition, or may be used as preventive medicine that has future benefits but does not treat any existing or pre-existing diseases or symptoms.

Recreational drugs

Recreational drug use is the use of psychoactive drugs for recreational purposes rather than for work, medical or spiritual purposes. Much controversy has arisen over recreational drug use, and governments across the world, under the lead of International Narcotics Control Board, have prohibited the consumption and/or distribution of drugs in the guise of fighting drug abuse, but these prohibitive laws are criticized for being ineffective, passed under ulterior motives, or for being hypocritical. In some occasions governments may decriminalize the use of recreational drugs in a limited scope. Recreational drugs are sometimes referred to as "street drugs."

Drugs as status symbols

In most cultures, drugs are often seen as status symbols. This is true for both ancient and modern cultures. A good example of this is in ancient Egyptian culture, in which gods were commonly pictured holding hallucinogenic plants. Another example of this is in modern secondary schools, where teenagers often boast about their drug use, be it real or not.

List of drugs

See list of drugs for an alphabetical list of drugs by name. Many drugs have more than one name and, therefore, the same drug may be listed more than once. Brand names and generic names are differentiated by the use of capital initials for the former. Some drugs may have slang names and may need to be accessed using those names.

Footnotes

  1. Some substances, such as beer, wine, and some fungi, are sometimes regarded as both foods and drugs

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