Advisory Council on the
Misuse of Drugs:
"it can be argued
that the ACMD has a remit to consider alcohol,
tobacco and caffeine".
UK Government's drug
education website 'Talk to Frank':
"Alcohol can play a major part in many people's
social lives. That's why it's easy to forget that
it's actually a very powerful drug". http://www.talktofrank.com/azofdrugs/A/Alcohol.aspx
"Tobacco comes from the leaves of the tobacco
plant. It contains a drug called nicotine which is
highly addictive". http://www.talktofrank.com/azofdrugs/T/Tobacco.aspx
drugs? There are distinctions to be made between
legal and illegal drugs, differing levels of
classification and harm, not to mention issues of use
Legal drugs: Broadly speaking, 'drugs' refers to any
substance that affects how we think or feel. This
includes legal substances such as alcohol, tobacco,
and caffeine. It also includes a myriad of
prescription medicines that are intended to improve
people's health and make them feel better. However,
legal drugs also carry risks of dependency and
damage, and can be 'misused' in the same way that
illegal drugs can.
Illegal drugs: In the UK, The Misuse of Drugs Act
1971 is the principle piece of legislation for the
control and classification of drugs. It places
restrictions upon the possession and supply,
production, import and export of any controlled
substance. The Misuse of Drugs Act lists the drugs
that are subject to control and classifies them
according to the level of harm associated with their
What is substance misuse? Recreational drug use is
drug use that is controlled and occasional and that
does not necessarily impact too significantly on the
user's ability to cope with everyday life. Substance
misuse is the use of illegal drugs and the
inappropriate use of legal drugs, including alcohol,
prescription medicines and substances such as
solvents. 'Misuse' refers to use that is problematic
or harmful, either for the individual or those around
"Most people regularly enjoy an alcoholic drink
or two. Which one of these statements about alcohol
isn't true? Answer: Alcohol is legal because it's
less harmful than illegal drugs".
Update, Frank at Work
International Drug Control Programme:
"What are drugs?
A very basic question but one that needs to be
clarified. For, if we start thinking of drugs as just
the substances that cause problems or are abused by
people we know, then we are likely to ignore other
substances that, for one reason or another, are not
thought of as drugs by our immediate communities. A
psychoactive substance is any substance people take
to change either the way they feel, think, or behave.
This description covers alcohol and tobacco as well
as other natural and manufactured drugs".
Office on Drugs and Crime:
"A psychoactive substance is any substance that
people take to change either the way they feel,
think, or behave. This includes alcohol and tobacco
as well as natural and manufactured drugs".
p.40, 'Let's Get Real - communicating with the public
"in the interests of encouraging a rational
debate and combating knee-jerk prejudice, we need to
continue referring to alcohol, tobacco and caffeine
Education and Skills - Drugs: Guidance for
Terminology The definition of a drug given by the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is: A
substance people take to change the way they feel,
think or behave.
The term drugs and drug
education, unless otherwise stated, is used
throughout this document to refer to all drugs:
- all illegal drugs (those controlled by the Misuse
of Drugs Act 1971)
- all legal drugs, including alcohol, tobacco".
is a drug?
The word 'drug' has a range of meanings. Not only
does it refer to medicines with beneficial
therapeutic effects such as paracetamol, penicillin
and insulin, it can also mean everyday substances
such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Drugs also
include illegal substances, such as cannabis, heroin
Scientific Committee on Tobacco and
Health First Report :
the past decade there has been increasing recognition
that underlying smoking behaviour and its remarkable
intractability to change is addiction to the drug
"Nicotine - a drug that stimulates the
A drug is something that affects your body.
Not all drugs are illegal. Drugs like cannabis,
ecstasy and cocaine are illegal. Other drugs which
are against the law include speed, heroin, LSD and
But many are legal like alcohol, headache tablets,
cigarettes and glue".
"The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
defines substance misuse as
"a condition which may cause an individual to
experience social, psychological, physical or legal
problems related to intoxication and / or regular
excessive consumption, and / or dependence, as a
consequence of their use of drugs or other chemical
This definition covers all types of substance misuse
whether related to addiction or one-off use, and is
focused on problems rather than types of drugs.
Its worth remembering that drugs such as
alcohol and tobacco can fit into this definition
The Science Museum:
"What is a drug?
A drug is any chemical you take that affects the way
your body works. Alcohol, caffeine, aspirin and
nicotine are all drugs".
"What is drug abuse?
A drug is any substance that has a biological effect
when taken into the body. Drugs like alcohol and
tobacco are legal in the United Kingdom while the
possession, use or supply of others such ecstasy,
cocaine and cannabis are against the law.