Nature and Magnitude of Problems Associated with Psychoactive Drugs

  • A. H. Ghodse
  • S. Rawaf
Conference paper


It is an unfortunate fact that many prescribed psychoactive drugs are drugs of abuse - that is to say they are drugs that are used excessively in a way that is inconsistent with or unrelated to acceptable medical practice. Of course, they are not alone in this and the use of prescribed drugs must be placed in perspective as one part of a spectrum of drug abuse behaviour. On one side are illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, LSD and cannabis; controlling their availability clearly comes within the province of law enforcement agencies. On the other side are drugs, both medicinal and recreational, which are available without prescription; responsibility for controlling the availability of the two most important recreational drugs, tobacco and alcohol, resides with government. In the middle are the prescribed psychoactive drugs - drugs such as hypnotics, tranquilizers, sedatives, stimulants etc.-, and although available only on prescription, they are the subject of widespread abuse and cause serious public health and social problems. Since direct measures of the prevalence of drug abuse problems are not available, other indicators are used instead. Prominent among these are studies of morbidity - the problems that arise as a consequence of drug abuse. Apart from acting as indicators of drug abuse, such problems are worthy of study in their own right, permitting the development of more effective health and social services, and of better preventative measures.


Drug Abuse Psychoactive Drug Drug Abuser Define Daily Dose Drug Abuse Problem 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. H. Ghodse
    • 1
  • S. Rawaf
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Addictive BehaviourSt George’s Hospital Medical SchoolLondonUK

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