Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
What is a drug? For social science purposes, a drug must be defined in context. In the medical context, a drug is a chemical substance used to heal the body and mind, one that is physician approved in medical therapy. In this sense, Lipitor, a cholesterol-fighting agent, Zoloft, an anti-depressant, and Celebrex, an anti-arthritis agent, are drugs. Within a legal context, a drug is an illicit or controlled substance, one whose possession and sale are subject to legal penalties; this makes marijuana, LSD, and heroin drugs. In a psychopharma-cological sense, a drug is a chemical substance that is psychoactive, that significantly influences the workings of the brain and hence the mind; it has an impact on mood, emotion, and cognitive processes. By this definition, alcohol, methamphetamine, and cocaine are drugs. Even tobacco induces a psychic state, while not an intoxication or “high” per se, that causes pleasurable sensations in the ...