1.2 What is a Drug?
Street Drugs - Suggests narcotics uppers, downers PCP, hallucinogens and cocaine. Many equate
street drugs with “dope” regardless of the pharmacology of the street drugs (dope originally meant
opium and it's narcotic alkaloids, morphine an codeine).
Pharmacology – The study of the distribution, actions, and fate of drugs in the body
Physicians use drugs to:
– Fight Infection (Antibiotics, sulfa drugs, antiseptics)
– Reverse a disease process (heart stimulants, antidepressants)
– Relieve Symptoms (morphine, aspirin, antacids, steroids)
– Restore normal function (Insulin, iron, hormones)
– Aid in diagnosis (radiopharmaceuticals, skin tests, urine tests, barium enemas)
– Inhibit normal body process (oral contraceptives, anesthetics)
– Maintain health (vitamins, minerals, vaccines)
If our body responds in some way to a substance, either physically, biochemically, or mentally,
that substance can be said to have a drug effect.
Adrug is any absorbed or applied substance that changes or enhances any physical or
physiological function in the body.
This definition if accepted means almost anything can act as a drug. The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) regulates any substance other than food as a drug. Pills are obvious examples are
obvious examples of drugs. Less obvious cases include dextrose in candy bar because it alters our
insulin production. Vegetables like Brussels sprouts and cabbage can cause a drug effect because they
inhibit normal thyroid production. Even arsenic (poison in large dose) can be used for treatment of
Just about everything has potential of being a drug. Whether a substance is a drug or not may
depend on the patient, the dose given, environmental circumstances, the illness, prior treatment, and the
Problem 1.1: Is water a drug? Is salt a drug? In what situations may they be considered drugs? In
what situation might aspirin not be considered a drug?
Both water and salt can be considered drugs. Even though both aren't commonly associated
with the word drug, they can effect are body (cause a drug effect). Water when drank can aid in
digestion and speed up metabolism; since this is a change in how the body works water could be
classified as a drug in this case. Same as salt, when a person eats to much salt this can cause their blood
pressure to rise. However a substance commonly associated as being a drug such as aspirin in some
circumstances might not be considered a drug. If not a strong enough dose of aspirin is given, there is
no effect on the human body so it is therefore not classified as a drug in this case.
1.3 The Placebo effect Placebo Effect – People can experience typical drug effects when they believe they have taken a drug
when they have not. Because the patient believes they are taking a genuine drug, the patient expects a
positive response and often receives that positive response.
– Placebos are intentionally used. Doctors use them when they have a patient who is on a drug that
they feel they can't live without. The doctor can get the patients pharmacist to give them placebos
that look the exact same. The patient is placated because they go their drugs but they don't get the
side effects. Manufactures also use placebos when testing new drugs. They give 1/2 their test
subjects placebos and half real drugs. This way they can tell how much of the response is due to the
drug and how much is due to the expectation.
– Placebos can even induce typical drug side effects.
– The placebo effect shows that the human organism has a great capacity for self healing. Certain
white blood cells are known to have receptors that are sensitive to neurotransmitters
Holistic Medicine – Is an understanding of a patients whole system. The patient's emotional, spiritual,
social, lifestyle, and environmental factors are considered in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Most approaches of holism rely heavily on psychology. Acupuncture treatment works similarly to how
Complementary andAlternative Medicine (CAM) is categorized into:
– Homeopathy – Diseases are treated using drugs that when tiny doses are given to a healthy
person causes symptoms of the disease but cure similar symptoms of the sick
– Biologically Based – herbal or nutritional regimens intended to prevent or treat illness
– Naturopathy and folklore – Consider disease disruption of body's nature healing process and
try to restore that health instead of cure disease (ex. Reiki)
– Mind-body systems – meditation, hypnosis, past-life regression
– Bioelectromagnetic – attempt to apply magnets, electric current or copper bracelets (ex. Qray)
– Body Based systems such as chiropractic, acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, psychic