An image of marijuana leaves, alcohol, and a cigarette.Photo by © & Andreka

A drug is a chemical substance that can change how your body and mind work. Drugs that can be dangerous are ones that people use to get high and change the way they feel. They can be drugs like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. Or they may be drugs legally sold to adults everywhere, like alcohol and tobacco.

Medicines can also be misused when people take them to get high instead of the way their doctor advises. People can even misuse cough or cold medicines from the store if they ignore the directions and take too much at one time.

People use drugs for many reasons:

  • They want to feel good. Taking a drug can feel really good for a short time. That's why people keep taking them—to have those good feelings again and again. But even though someone can take more and more of a drug, the good feelings don't last. Soon the person is taking the drug just to keep from feeling bad.
  • They want to stop feeling bad. Some people who feel very worried, afraid, or sad use drugs to try to stop feeling so awful. This doesn't really help their problems and can lead to addiction, which can make them feel much worse.
  • They want to do well in school or at work. Some people who want to get good grades, get a better job, or earn more money might think drugs will give them more energy, keep them awake, or make them think faster. But it usually doesn't work. It may put their health at risk and may lead to addiction.