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    Illegal drugs

    Illegal drugs

    Illegal drugs are those that are not prescribed by a doctor or bought at a drugstore. They are sometimes also called "street drugs."

    Some examples of illegal drugs include heroin (an opioid); cocaine (a stimulant); LSD, mescaline, PCP, methamphetamine, and psilocybin (hallucinogens); marijuana and hashish (cannabis); and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). GHB is legal in Europe for anesthetic uses and in the United States for government-approved clinical trials for treating narcolepsy. But it has been otherwise illegal in the United States since 1990.

    The effects of illegal drugs can be unpredictable because:

    • Most drugs are very addictive.
    • People respond differently to the same drugs.
    • The strength or potency of the drug may be uncertain.
    • They may contain unknown or unexpected substances. There is no quality control for street drugs like that required for prescription drugs.
    • They may interact with other drugs or alcohol in unpredictable ways.
    • Even though they look like prescription drugs, they may contain dangerous chemicals.

    Current as of: November 3, 2016

    Author: Healthwise Staff

    Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine

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