A drug is any substance that causes a change in people’s mental, emotional or physical state. Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis are commonly used legal drugs. Prescription drugs such as painkillers, sleeping pills, and anti-depressants have their place in healthcare when used properly or under medical supervision.
However, abusing these drugs and using illegal drugs like cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, and heroin can cause problems in people’s lives.
People start taking drugs for many reasons: out of curiosity, for pleasure, to fit in, or to cope with boredom, anxiety, lack of confidence, or other social issues.
In a 2016-17 survey of Alberta students in grades 7 to 12, 16.0% said they had used cannabis (which was illegal at the time) and 5% had used other illegal drugs (like cocaine or amphetamines) in the year before the survey.
Drug abuse means taking one or more drugs in a way that puts you or others at risk of getting hurt. Here are some examples:
The same survey of Alberta students in grades 7 to 12 showed that in the year before the survey, 5% of the students said they used medicine like sleeping pills, pain medicine, or cough syrup to get high.
There are many risks:
Problems related to using drugs can start quickly or develop over time. Often, family and friends that don’t use drugs can tell someone has a drug problem long before the person who's using drugs can.
If you’re concerned that you or someone you know might have a drug problem, we’re here to help.
For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the
Current as of: September 29, 2020
Author: Addiction & Mental Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.