A drug is any substance that can be used to treat an illness, relieve a symptom or modify a chemical process in the body for a specific purpose. The term is necessarily a vague one, being defined by intent: for example, foods consumed for normal metabolism are not generally considered "drugs", but the same foods consumed for a more specific purpose (such as the use of alcohol as a depressant or caffeine as a stimulant) may be.
- Recreational drug use - Drugs used in a non-medical manner.
- Analgesic (painkiller) drugs
- Recreational drugs (to alter mood or body function for recreation).
- Performance-enhancing drugs (for sport or combat).
Many enhancing drugs are also used for recreational purposes.
Usage of most of drugs is regulated to some extent. While details vary with location, these are somewhat usual regulations:
Regulated to some extent (age or labeling requirements, for example) but available over the counter:
- Acetylsalicylic acid (such as Aspirin®)
- Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®)
- Alcohol (Although in some nations with an Islamic background, alcohol might be prohibited)
- Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine
Prescription drugs, prohibited for non-medical use:
Varies from tolerated to prohibited even for medical use:
Varies from prohibited for non-medical use to prohibited for any use
Prohibited for any use, no medical uses currently allowed most of the time
Three international UN treaties regulate drug laws:
- UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs from 1961, see http://www.incb.org/e/conv/1961/index.htm
- UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances from 1971, see http://www.incb.org/e/conv/1971/index.htm
- UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances from 1988, see http://www.incb.org/e/conv/1988/index.htm
The UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (http://www.undcp.org/) is charged with overseeing these treaties and maintains a list of signatory nations at http://www.undcp.org/treaty_adherence.html.
See also Libertarianism