What are drugs?Under drugs, most people understand intoxicants like hashish, opium or heroin. But even daily stimulants such as coffee and tea, alcohol and nicotine fall under the category of drugs.
Contrary to most medical terms derived from Greek and Latin, the word drug comes from Dutch. As a colonial power in the Southeast Asian region, the Netherlands dominated the spice trade for centuries. Spices and tea were brought dried to Europe. 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 civilization history. That fermented grape juice makes fun, people learned about 6, 000 BC. Thus, wine is older than beer, because the brewing was in Egypt only about 5, 000 years ago, ie 3, 000 BC. Ch. Discovered.
Mushrooms used to generate intoxication were already being used in North Africa and in the wider Siberia. On the American continent, too, the mind-altering power of various mushrooms had been recognized. For this reason, Indians began to enjoy tobacco around the turn of the century.
Nicotine, alcohol and caffeine are widely accepted in today's society. The classics such as tea and coffee have now joined a vast number of so-called energy drinks. In addition to caffeine, they also contain the stimulants taurine and guanine. Sometimes, especially in bars and discos, energy drinks mixed with alcohol, which enhances the effect.
Medical application, effect & use
Often drugs such as psychotropic drugs, stimulants, painkillers or sleeping drugs are 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 use, opioids (eg morphine) are also used as painkillers. In mental illness, various drugs are often used as antidepressants. Even LSD and MDMA are currently being researched in psychotherapy.
Various indigenous peoples of South America, Africa and Asia still use various drugs from plants in shamanism for disease control and 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 were classified as "soft", while heroin, LSD or crack were considered hard drugs.
But this classification is considered outdated today. Rather, the nature and origin of the drugs now play a role. On the one hand, there are the drugs that are naturally produced from plants, such as cannabis products derived from hemp, or opiates derived from opium poppy. On the other hand, many drugs are available today, which are put together in laboratories, the so-called designer drugs.
Since a study by David Nutt in 2007, drugs have been classified according to their harm to the consumer, his or her degree of dependency, and social damage. Thereafter, heroin is considered the most dangerous drug with a potential harm of 8.32 on a nine-part scale. In a follow-up study, which gave more space to social harm, alcohol was at the top, followed by heroin.
Risks, side effects & dangers
A fundamental problem with drugs is the addictive potential. Thus, the single intake of heroin can lead to a dependency. But the regular use of drugs can have a long-term devastating effect on the mind or body.
For example, hashish has a lower addictive potential than alcohol or nicotine. Longer regular enjoyment of the cannabis product, however, can lead to a dramatic personality change or even to psychosis. These can be the worst effects of high alcohol addiction. In addition, a serious alcoholic disease also leads to physical deterioration.
These are also the consequences of a heroin addiction, with the difference that the decline progresses much more rapidly. However, another danger with heroin abuse is much more threatening: Since the addictive potential is so great and the body needs higher doses from trip to trip to reach the desired level of intoxication, it can easily lead to overdose, the "golden shot".
A very special danger comes from the growing market of designer drugs (eg Crystal Meth). Since these are completely new connections, their long-term effects are often completely unclear.