- A chemical that alters the body and mind or has a reaction when taken.
- Some drugs are taken for medical reasons and to improve health and wellbeing. These include antibiotics, which are taken for infections.
- Some drugs are abused and used for reasons other than health.
- Some drugs are called ‘recreational’ drugs. These are taken for a ‘buzz’ or for a ‘high’. Some are legal, such as alcohol, and others are illegal, such as cannabis. People take ‘social/recreational’ drugs with friends.
Effects of Drugs
- Different drugs have different effects.
- Caffeine is in tea and coffee. It is a stimulant that keeps people alert and awake.
- Alcohol is a depressant. Although it relaxes people, in the long-term it causes depression. It makes people drunk. They can lose control and have accidents.
- Cannabis is often taken as a relaxant. It can be taken for pain relief or for a high. It can cause long-term mental health issues.
- Cocaine is a stimulant that lasts for 30 minutes. It is highly addictive and expensive. It can lead to heart problems and convulsions. An overdose can kill.
- Heroine is an opiate. It relaxes people and relieves pain. It is, however, highly addictive. It causes dangerous withdrawal symptoms, which make people sick. An overdose can kill and diseases can be spread through dirty needles as most addicts inject the drug.
All drugs can ruin family life as the pressure on loved ones can be very difficult. It can also lead to money problems.
Classification of Drugs
Drugs are classified into A, B and C categories. A is the most dangerous with the hardest punishments.
- Class A drugs include heroine, cocaine and ecstasy.
- Class B drugs include cannabis (weed) and amphetamines (speed).
- Class C drugs include anabolic steroids and tranquilizers, such as valium.
- Class A punishments include up to 7 years for possession and life for supply (dealing).
- Class B punishments include 5 years fo possession and 14 years for supply/dealing.
- Class C varies. People can get 2 years for possession and 14 years for supply/dealing.
Reclassification of cannabis
In 1971 cannabis was classified as a class B drug. It was considered dangerous and was seen as leading to other drugs – a ‘gateway drug’.
In 2004 it was re-classified a class C drug because it was seen as less dangerous than other class B drugs. Although dealers could still get time in prison and you could still get arrested for having it, police started issuing ‘cautions’ (warnings) or fines. Young people got sent for rehabilitation with Youth Offending teams.
However, in 2008 the government decided it was too dangerous to be C. This was partly because skunk cannabis (stronger cannabis with more THC) was becoming popular.
Arguments for cannabis being a class B drug
- Some people say cannabis should be a class B drug because it causes mental health issues. Over 1,000 people get psychotic illnesses from taking it.
- It is also a class B drug because 500 people a week are admitted to hospital for taking it.
- It is considered a gateway drug – it leads to other, more serious, drugs
Arguments for cannabis being a class C drug/legal
- However, others say it should be C because it is less dangerous than other class B drugs.
- Some say it should be legalised as it is no worse than alcohol and tobacco.
- Some people argue that if it is legalised the government can tax cannabis and put money into the NHS and education.
- It grows naturally, like tobacco.
- Rastafarians believe that the Bible says God created ’herb’, which means cannabis is OK, but not other drugs.
Religious teachings on drugs
- The Christian Bible teaches ‘you body is a temple of the Holy Spirit’. This suggests you should treat it with respect as it is God made and holy like a temple.
- The Bible says Christians should ‘obey’ the governing authorities. This suggests they should follow the government’s laws, especially on drugs.
- Jesus taught people to ‘love their neighbour’. Selling illegal drugs is not a loving thing to do.
- However, Jesus healed the sick so He would not be against using drugs as medicine to improve health.
- The Islamic Holy book, the Qur’an, states, ‘Do not make your own hands contribute to your own destruction’. This suggests you should not ruin your body with drugs.
- Islam teaches that Allah gave you a body. It is His to take away, not the drug users.
- Taking drugs goes against the Fifth Buddhist Precept – avoid intoxicants.
- Rastafarians, however, smoke Cannabis as they believe the Bible says ‘God gave them herb’.
- Alcohol causes over 30,000 deaths a year and costs the NHS a lot of money.
- Most Christians drink alcohol. The Bible mentions the ‘fruit of the vine’.
- The Church of England uses alcohol in church. The wine symbolises the blood of Christ.
- In the Roman Catholic Church the wine drunk in church is believed to turn into Jesus’ blood.
- Jesus drank wine at the last supper. He also turned water into wine.
- Some Christians are against alcohol. The Bible warns not to ‘ruin yourself with wine’.
- Muslims (Islam) cannot drink alcohol. It is against shari’ah law.
- The Qur’an says that alcohol is a ‘lure of Satan’.
- Alcohol is haram – forbidden.
- In Buddhism, drinking alcohol goes against the Fifth Precept – avoid intoxicants.
- Smoking kills at least 300 people a day in the UK.
- No religions rule against smoking. It is not forbidden in the Bible or Qur’an.
- It is your free will to smoke
- However, your body is a holy temple and you should not destroy it.
- The First Buddhist Precept is not to harm life. You are harming life by smoking.
- Smoking also goes against the Fifth Precept – avoid intoxicants.
- Passive smoking kills others. The Bible teaches, ‘Do not kill’.