A drug () is any substance that causes a change in an organism's physiology or psychology when consumed. Drugs are typically distinguished from food and substances that provide nutritional support. Consumption of drugs can be via inhalation, drug injection, smoking, ingestion, absorption via a dermal patch on the skin, or dissolution under the tongue.
In pharmacology, a drug is a chemical substance, typically of known structure, which, when administered to a living organism, produces a biological effect.
Pharmaceutical drugs are often classified into —groups of related drugs that have similar chemical structures, the same mechanism of action (binding to the same biological target), a related mode of action, and that are used to treat the same disease.
Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that affect the function of the central nervous system, altering perception, mood or consciousness. These drugs are divided into different groups like: , , , , , and . These psychoactive drugs have been proven useful in treating wide range of medical conditions including around the world. The most widely used drugs in the world include caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, which are also considered recreational drugs, since they are used for pleasure rather than medicinal purposes. Abuse of several psychoactive drugs can cause psychological or physical drug addiction. It's worth noting that all drugs can have potential . "MHRA Side Effects of Medicines." MHRA Side Effects of Medicines, Excessive use of stimulants can promote stimulant psychosis. Many recreational drugs are illicit and international treaties such as the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs exist for the purpose of their prohibition.
In the United Kingdom, behind-the-counter medicines are called pharmacy medicines which can only be sold in registered pharmacies, by or under the supervision of a pharmacist. These medications are designated by the letter P on the label. The range of medicines available without a prescription varies from country to country. Medications are typically produced by pharmaceutical companies and are often to give the developer exclusive rights to produce them. Those that are not patented (or with expired patents) are called since they can be produced by other companies without restrictions or licenses from the patent holder.
Pharmaceutical drugs are usually categorised into . A group of drugs will share a similar chemical structure, or have the same mechanism of action, the same related mode of action or target the same illness or related illnesses. The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (ATC), the most widely used drug classification system, assigns drugs a unique ATC code, which is an alphanumeric code that assigns it to specific drug classes within the ATC system. Another major classification system is the Biopharmaceutics Classification System. This groups drugs according to their solubility and permeability or absorption properties.
Some Shamanism from different cultures use entheogens, defined as "generating the divine within" to achieve religious ecstasy. Amazonian shamans use ayahuasca (yagé) a hallucinogenic brew for this purpose. Mazatec shamans have a long and continuous tradition of religious use of Salvia divinorum a psychoactive plant. Its use is to facilitate visionary states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions.Valdés, Díaz & Paul 1983, p. 287.
Silene undulata is regarded by the Xhosa people as a sacred plant and used as an entheogen. Its roots are traditionally used to induce vivid (and according to the Xhosa, prophetic) lucid dreaming during the initiation process of shamans, classifying it a naturally occurring oneirogen similar to the more well-known dream herb Calea ternifolia.
Peyote a small spineless cactus has been a major source of psychedelic mescaline and has probably been used by Native Americans for at least five thousand years. Most mescaline is now obtained from a few species of columnar cacti in particular from San Pedro and not from the vulnerable peyote.
Psychedelic mushrooms (psilocybin mushrooms), commonly called magic mushrooms or shrooms have also long been used as entheogens.
Other drugs known as are produced. An early example of what today would be labelled a 'designer drug' was LSD, which was synthesised from ergot. Other examples include analogs of performance-enhancing drugs such as designer steroids taken to improve physical capabilities and these are sometimes used (legally or not) for this purpose, often by professional athletes. Other designer drugs mimic the effects of psychoactive drugs. Since the late 1990s there has been the identification of many of these synthesised drugs. In Japan and the United Kingdom this has spurred the addition of many designer drugs into a newer class of controlled substances known as a temporary class drug.
Synthetic cannabinoids have been produced for a longer period of time and are used in the designer drug synthetic cannabis.
Drug laws prohibit the use of different recreational drugs; and medicinal drugs that have the potential for recreational use are often heavily regulated. However, there are many recreational drugs that are legal in many jurisdictions and widely culturally accepted. Cannabis is the most commonly consumed controlled recreational drug in the world (as of 2012). Its use in many countries is illegal but is legally used in several countries usually with the proviso that it can only be used for personal use. It can be used in the leaf form of marijuana (grass), or in the resin form of hashish. Marijuana is a more mild form of cannabis than hashish.
There may be an age restriction on the consumption and purchase of legal recreational drugs. Some recreational drugs that are legal and accepted in many places include alcohol, tobacco, betel nut, and caffeine products, and in some areas of the world the legal use of drugs such as khat is common.
There are a number of legal intoxicants commonly called legal highs that are used recreationally. The most widely used of these is alcohol.
The legal status of Salvia divinorum varies in many countries and even in states within the United States. Where it is legislated against the degree of prohibition also varies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States is a federal agency responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter medications, , biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, , electromagnetic radiation emitting devices, cosmetics, Animal Feed and veterinary drugs.