People use many different kinds of drugs. These drugs may be legal or illegal, helpful or harmful. Every drug has side-effects and risks, but some drugs have more risks than others, especially illegal drugs.
Using drugs can become a problem depending on a number of factors. These are:
What drug is used?
Who is using the drug?
(Especially their mood and personality)
Why they are using the drug
Where and how they are using the drug
Different drugs create different problems for different people. These problems need different answers. To begin to understand the problem, you have to know what is happening in the life of the person who is using the drug and what drug they are using. The most commonly used illegal drugs are cannabis, ecstasy, heroin and cocaine.
Different people use different drugs for different reasons.
There are of course legal drugs which we all come across every day. For example, you may take medicine when you are sick, alcohol to help you relax or coffee to help you stay awake.
What we are referring to here is illegal drugs. You may experiment with illegal drugs because of curiosity, because your friends are doing it or to escape boredom or worries. You may take certain drugs to change how you feel. You may believe it’s a fun or fashionable thing to do.
You may continue to use a drug because you enjoy it, or because it's part of your social life or culture. This is often called "recreational" drug use.
Sometimes drug use can become an important part of your life. This may be because of emotional, psychological or social problems you are experiencing. Some drugs can make you addicted or dependent, where you lose control over your drug use and feel you cannot function without the drug.
Some people use more than one drug at the same time - this is known as "polydrug use". Mixing drugs can be dangerous because the effects and side-effects are added together. This includes mixing illegal drugs with legal drugs such as alcohol or medication. For example, drinking alcohol and taking cocaine increases your risk of irregular heart rhythms, heart attacks and even death.