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What Drugs are a problem?
A drug is any chemical or chemicals which change the way the body functions, and may alter its biological structure. Some people include caffeine in coffee and tea in their definition of drugs. Generally, the drugs we talk about are substances used to change people's consciousness for non-medical purposes. There are legal and illegal drugs.
Alcohol and nicotine (smoked in tobacco) are the two most common drugs in New Zealand. Both are legal. Together they account for 95 per cent of all drug related deaths in New Zealand.

Cannabis is the most popular illegal drug. But it can also be a very dangerous drug, especially if people drive or work after using it. Relatively few people use drugs other than cannabis illegally. They use hallucinogens, stimulants, opiates, tranquilizers and solvents.

It is important to distinguish between the acute effects of drugs and the chronic effects, this is, what happens following one occasion of use, and what happens after repeated occasions of use. Many young people try "drugs" once or twice with no ill effects and never use these particular "drugs" again.

The effect of "drugs" can also be different for a first-time naive user, compared to someone who is experienced in the use of that drug.

Of all drugs, experts say alcohol can create the most personal and social problems given the number of people who use it. But tobacco causes the most deaths, around 4000 a year in New Zealand.

Kindly reproduced with the permission of the New Zealand Police Association

Back to Drug Abuse Index

It is important to distinguish between the acute effects of drugs and the chronic effects

New Zealand Police Association
Reproduced with the kind permission of the NZ Police Association

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