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Short glossary on Drugs and Drug Addiction


Any substance or compound that can change one or more homeostatic functions of a living system or organism.

Psychoactive or psychotropic substances

Substances that alter, in some way, the individuals ability to adapt to his emotional, cognitive and behavioural states


All “drugs”, by definition, are psychoactive substances, and this term means any substances capable of altering the delicate balance of the homeostatic functions of the being: biological, psychological and social.

Biological Level

The drugs interfere with the biochemical processes aimed at maintaining the normal operation of the organism and mainly affect mechanisms of brain function, interfering with biological events that underline normal nerve cell activity: the processing and transmition of nerve impulses, that is to say of signals and information.

Psychological Level

Disrupting the function of nerve cells, drugs impair or even eliminate the psychological equilibrium, the adaptability of the individual and their ability to cope with difficult intro-psychic, interpersonal or environmental situations.

Social Level

Drugs affect the ability of social integration of the individual, undermining on one hand the individuals addaptive capabilities and on the other leading to a exclusion from the social fabric.The equilibrium of the social level is related to the conditions of the previous two levels, but, inturn, the level of social influence binds the pschological to the biological.

Use of Drugs

This term refers to the consumption of certain psychoactive substances by ingestion, inhalation, injection or any other method to bring drugs into the blood stream.

Abuse and Misuse of drugs

This term implies that drug use is dangerous or otherwise “wrong” in some way.
Those who consider the use of illegal drugs wrong, tend to report taking such drugs as abuse in any case. The use of drugs by children or other people not able to fully understand his/her own actions is considered inapropriate.


The compulsive necessity of the individual to consume something. This includes many aspects, from cigarettes to drugs, from food to sex, the presence in certain places to perform certain rituals


Describes a “compulsion” to take drugs in order to feel good or to avoid feeling bad.
When this is done in order to prevent physical ailments or withdrawls it becomes known as a physical dependence.
When it involves a psychological aspect (the need to stimulate the source of pleasure or escape from reality) it then becomes psychological dependence.
Physical dependence usually occurs when the body has developed a tolerance to the substance and in its absence suffers withdrawl symptoms. This dependence is usually related to the use of heroin, barbiturates, alcohol and tranquilizers. However, the deep depression and even suicidal feelings that may follow the use ecstasy, cocaine or other stimulants can be seen as a physical dependence.
The psychological addiction is primarily related to the need of the individual to continue the experience but in many cases it also seems to be ralated to some sort psychological torment.
psychological dependence can be established withany substance or activity that carries the individal to escape from reality


Implies that the addiction to a substance has been developed to such an degree, as to have effects on the individual and a detriment to their family’s and the people around them.
Or when the drug takes away their whole life .
This is usually used in reference to drugs but may also include other activities such as gambling, sex and the manic pursuit of “health”.

Wthdrawl symptoms

Is the bodies reaction to the sudden absence of a drug from which the individual had become physically dependent. The effects can be blocked by taking the drug again or you could let it pass naturally.


This term describes the way in which a drug is eliminated from the body usually with the help of a doctor or in a clinic.