A drug is a substance that affects the way the body functions when it is used. If a drug is classified as illegal, this means that it is forbidden by law. Different illegal drugs have different effects on people and these effects are influenced by many factors. This makes them unpredictable and dangerous, especially for young people.
You can find out more about different types of drugs.
A prescription drug is a pharmaceutical drug that legally requires a medical prescription to be dispensed.
Non-medical use of prescription drugs can have the same harms as illegal drugs.
Illicit drugs include:
- illegal drugs (such as cannabis, opiates, and certain types of stimulants)
- pharmaceutical drugs (such as pain-killers and tranquillisers) when used for non-medical purposes
- other substances used inappropriately (such as inhalants).
Polydrug use is mixing drugs or taking one drug together with another drug. Combining drugs carries extra risks and can be extremely dangerous. The more drugs a person takes (or is affected by) at a time, the more chance there is of something going wrong.
The Positive Choices website has further details on polydrug use.
The effects of any drug vary from person to person. How a drug affects you can depend on a number of factors, including:
- your size
- your weight
- your health
- whether any other drugs are already in your system
- the amount of drugs that you have taken.
It can be hard to judge how much of an illegal drug has been taken, as they are uncontrolled. Quality and strength of any drug will vary from one batch to another.
Illegal drugs may have negative after-effects which are the feelings experienced as the drugs wear off. These may vary depending on the drug taken and can include:
- extreme tiredness.
The Positive Choices website has further details about the effects of specific drugs.
Page last updated: 22 Sep 2017