PASAGE

Saint John

Making sense of it all

People of all ages, young and old, may benefit from knowledge about drugs to help make educated decisions. It is important to know about the different kinds of drugs that exist, understand how and why they may be used, their effects, and where possible problems can occur.

Below are some important points to consider when regarding drugs and their use:

  • Drugs can be used in ways that threaten the health and social well being of the individual and/or others.
  • Drugs most commonly abused are those that change or affect how a person thinks, feels, or acts. They are often referred to as mood-changing or psychoactive drugs. They include alcohol, all common street drugs, and medications used to relieve pain, calm nervousness and aid sleep.
  • Mood-changing drugs can be used over and over again to change how a person feels. Repeated use can lead to addiction and dependency. Eventually the drug can control a person’s life.
  • Using drugs that affect how a person thinks can be dangerous and/or problematic in situations that require concentration. Driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery while under the influence can be fatal for the user and those around them. Sport and school performances may decline.
  • The greater the amount, and the more often the drug is used, the greater the risk of having a problem. For instance, an occasional drink may be harmless for most people; however, frequent binges may lead to addiction and health problems. Some people make the mistake of thinking that if a particular medication resulted in them feeling better, taking more than the recommended dose will make them feel even better. It is important to understand that drugs can be harmful if taken inappropriately.
  • The user’s drug problem will probably become more serious with time. Continued use may result in addiction, irreversible health problems (liver damage), or social problems (loss of friends and job).
  • Risks associated with drug use may increase if using more than one drug at a time. This may involve mixing medication and/or alcohol and street drugs. The combined effects of drugs are often not known and could be more potent than expected.
  • The effects of drugs may vary from person to person. For instance, alcohol could transform one individual into a ‘violent drunk’ while another person could be a ‘happy drunk’. Individual reactions to drugs may depend on physiological and biological body makeup (body size, weight, and metabolism), as well as psychological makeup (happy or angry, cautious or careless, self confident or low self esteem, healthy or mentally ill). All the above factors come into play when someone uses drugs and must be considered. It is impossible to tell how each individual is going to react.