Monday July 7 2014

Talking medicine : Common terms you should know about drugs

By Stella Nakakande

The National Drug Authority, the body that regulates medicines/drugs in Uganda is currently running adverts on radio stations and other media about illegal drug use. Today, we shall outline some terms commonly used, and what they mean.

This is defined as any substance with the potential to prevent or cure a disease or enhance physical or mental welfare, or any chemical agent that alters the biochemical or physiological processes of organisms.

Drug abuse
It is the habitual use of drugs to alter one’s mood, emotion and state of consciousness. Abuse can also mean the use of a drug for a non-therapeutic effect. The abuse of drugs often alter behaviour, can lead to addiction and damage of body organs.

It involves compulsive psychoactive (affects mood or mental state) use of a particular drug. Compulsive drug use, in this case involves the psychological need to procure and use drugs to maintain an optimum state of wellbeing.

Withdrawal symptoms
This is a term many of us have come across either in a movie, from reading books. Withdrawal symptoms come as a result of sudden or abrupt discontinuation of the drug in question. Common symptoms include sleep disruption, anxiety, sweating, tremors (violent body shakes), seizures and hallucinations.

Drug tolerance
Drug tolerance refers to a situation where a person consuming a particular drug requires higher doses of it in order to get a particular emotional or physiological (normal body function) response.

Drug dependence
This is another commonly used term and it is defined as a compulsive desire to avoid the presence of withdrawal symptoms when someone ceases to take a particular substance to prevent the above symptoms.

These are used to alter mental status, especially those that disconnect one from reality and develop feelings of excitement. These substances include nicotine, marijuana, cocaine, anabolic steroids and alcohol.

The writer is a pharmacist