Get the facts
Drugs are chemical substances that affect the normal functioning of the body and/or brain. Some of them are so harmful that countries across the world have decided to control them. This means that generally, it is against the law to own, use or sell these drugs. The illicit drugs that we refer to include amphetamine-type stimulants, coca/cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opiates and sedative hypnotics.
Types of drugs
Although each drug is discussed separately in this publication, drugs are often used together. Mixing drugs can have unpredictable, severe effects on the body and/or mind of the user. Illicit drugs pose a health risk for consumers.
Radio series- Ask the experts
Have you ever wondered why cannabis is more dangerous for you than cigarettes? Whether you can become addicted to ecstasy or overdose on cocaine? Or what makes heroin such a dangerous drug? These questions and more are answered in the series Drugs? Ask the experts. UNODC has teamed up with a group of international teenagers to put their questions to the experts. In this series of interviews we put cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin under the spotlight. And talk frankly about the production, trafficking and damaging effects of these illicit drugs.
There are lots of reasons why people take illicit drugs. Some take them to escape problems while others are bored, curious or just want to feel good. People may be pressures into taking drugs to "fit in" with a particular crowd or to rebel or get attention. Teenagers and young adults are particularly vulnerable to using illicit drugs. Peer pressure to experiment with illicit drugs can be strong and self-esteem is often low.
Signs of drug use
Parents, teachers and peers can watch out for signs of trouble among the young. Signs range from loss of motivation to weight loss, which may or may not be caused by drug use.