A drug is any substance (with the exception of food and water) which, when taken into the body, alters the body's function either physically and/or psychologically. Drugs may be legal (for example, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco) or illegal (for example, cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin).
The experience that a person has when using drugs will be affected by the:
Individual: Mood, physical size, gender, personality, expectations of the drug experience, whether the person has food in his/her stomach and whether other drugs have been taken.
Drug: The amount used, how it is used and the strength and purity of the drug.
Environment: Whether the person is using it with friends, on their own, in a social setting or at home, at work, before or while driving.
People use drugs for a variety of reasons. Young people often use drugs for the same reasons that adults do.
Some of these include:
- To have fun
- To relax and forget problems
- To gain confidence
- To socialise
- Out of curiosity
- As a form of escapism
- To lessen inhibitions
- To remove personal responsibility for decisions
- To celebrate or commiserate
- To relieve boredom and stress
- Self-medication to cope with problems. Friends, parents, older brothers and sisters and the media can also have some influence over a young person's decision to use drugs.