Drug Use

The “101”

The subject of drugs is complex because there are so many of them. Let’s break it down.

A drug is a chemical compound or substance that can alter the structure and function of the body.

Products that contain drugs include over-the-counter medication, prescription medication, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, inhalants, and steroids.

Some drugs are helpful to healing the body or reducing symptoms of a disease. These types of drugs can be harmful when someone uses them improperly or when they aren’t necessary for the person’s healing.

Other drugs are definitely harmful to your body and should not be consumed. Drugs can impair brain function and motor skills. Taking a drug by injection becomes even more harmful when the needle is shared among people. Drugs also lead to diseases like tooth decay, heart disease, and weight loss.

Some drugs are addictive. Addiction is a situation where the body must have the substance or stimulation to avoid physical and psychological symptoms that come when the body tries to withdraw from the substance or stimulus.

Addiction to drugs is treatable.

Use of non-prescription drugs is against the law in the United States, the exceptions being that several states permit use of marijuana as part of medical treatment and a lesser number of states permit people over age 21 to use marijuana, in limited amounts, for pleasure.

A healthy decision would be to avoid taking non-prescription drugs altogether, or to reduce the amount and frequency of your use. Remember too that selling, possessing, and using drugs is a crime in most cases, so it’s smart to just stay away from them altogether!

Reflect On It

Write in your journal (download journal) any thoughts you have as you think about this topic, using the questions below:

Learn More

Drug Facts Check out these facts on how drugs affect the body.

Drugs Risk Assessment Take a quick 20-question quiz to determine if you or someone you know is at risk of drug dependence and in need of immediate assistance.

Take Action!

Resist the Pressure to Experiment with or Use Drugs

Stand up to negative pressures by living Above the Influence. Take the quizzes and read the articles. The more aware you are of the influences around you, the better prepared you will be to face them, including the pressure to use drugs and alcohol.

Get Treatment for Drug Use or Addiction

For help quitting or reducing your use of drugs, set an appointment with your healthcare provider, or ask the adult responsible for your health care to set an appointment. If you or your family does not have health insurance, find free or low-cost substance abuse services by ZIP Code and type of service or reach the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or online.

Get Help in a Physical Emergency

Call 911 if you are having any type of physical emergency, including an adverse reaction to drugs or overdosing (getting high) to a level that you are not in control.

Get Help in an Emotional Emergency

Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or initiate a confidential online chat with a trained counselor if you are considering harming yourself for any reason, including your use of drugs to numb negative emotions or moods.

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