The most common thought people experience when they hear about drugs is illegal, harmful narcotic substances that are used without medical supervision and cause addiction. Well not every drug is a destructive narcotic substance and everyone has used a drug or drugs at some point in life, but usually for healthy medical motives. A drug is any natural or synthetic chemical substance other than food that affects thoughts, feelings, moods and influences behavior. Drugs serve different purposes including recreation value or medical benefits basing on who utilizes them and who prescribes them.
Drugs can be legal or illegal. Legal drugs include prescription drugs such as painkillers that are recommended by a medical personnel to a patient after diagnosing them with a particular ailment and “over the counter” medication which comprises of simple drugs that are accessible to anybody in a pharmacy such as cough medicines and analgesics. Prescription drugs are occasionally accessed illegally and abused by people who steal or forge prescription papers in order to purchase particular drugs of interest. This is a common phenomenon among people who intentionally overdose themselves against medical advice and eventually they become dependent on a particular drug, but most people get addicted to pain relievers.
In some countries like Uganda, there are no strict laws governing the sale of “over the counter” medicines in pharmacies and so people can buy any amount of drug of interest without submitting any medical requirements for purchase. This has provided a gate way for abuse of many pharmaceutical drugs because no medical approval is needed when purchasing drugs.
There are some legal drugs that do not carry medicinal benefits like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. These are considered to be social drugs because anyone above the age of 18 can use them. The availability of these drugs has made them an easy target for abuse and several people who use them are at risk of getting addicted because of their highly addictive nature and the fact that there is no legal limitation on their consumption in most countries. Alcohol is considered to be the most abused drug in the world and it has affected the families, health and economy of most countries. In 2012, about 3.3 million, approximately 5.9% of the deaths around the world were attributed to alcohol consumption, (Global status report on alcohol and health [WHO], 2014). Nicotine is found in cigarettes of tobacco and it responsible for an estimate of over 1 billion deaths in the 21 century according to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). In Uganda the situation is worse because many minors can easily access, purchase and use these social drugs either from retail shops or recreation centers like night clubs.
Another category of legal drugs is the domestic and industrial products. These are products made for use within the home environment but contain dangerous solvents and volatile substances that can be inhaled to get “high”. Domestic products are usually abused by children because they are cheap and readily available in homes. These products include, glue, thinners, paint, petrol and aviation fuels.
All these drugs carry serious health, emotional and psychological risks if not correctly used or when used for the wrong reasons. These drugs need to be taken with caution or strict adherence to medical regulations. Parents need to watch out for the industrial products left within the reach of children to prevent abuse of domestic products. With what you have learnt about legal drugs, I hope you can save more lives by sharing this information with another person. Check in next time for information about illegal drugs. (Image credit to www.philly.com)