Trends of the use and abuse of illicit drugs in Europe


Glossary over Trends of the use and abuse of illicit drugs in Europe

Active ingredient

The term “active ingredient” is mostly used in drugs to name the substance which is pharmaceutically active.

The term “active substance” is also used in biocidal products to name the component which actually kills, or otherwise controls pests or bacteria.

It is not necessarily the largest or most hazardous component of the product. Some products may contain more than one active ingredient or substance. Non-active ingredients are often called inert ingredients. (Source: GreenFacts)


The term alcohol refers to a family of chemicals that occur widely in nature and are mass-produced for use in antifreezes, fuels and some manufacturing processes.

Alcohol is commonly used to refer to alcohol-containing drinks such as wine, beer and spirits. In this case the alcohol, ethanol, has been produced by a process called fermentation. Consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to drunkenness and may be harmful to health. (Source: GreenFacts)

Alcohol dependence

A chronic disease characterized by a strong craving for alcohol, a constant or periodic reliance on use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, the inability to limit drinking, physical illness when drinking is stopped, and the need for increasing amounts of alcohol to feel its effects. (Source: NIH Understanding Alcohol glossary   )


Amphetamines are man-made stimulant drugs.

Their effects usually last for several hours and include stimulation of the central nervous system, a sense of well-being and higher energy, a release of social inhibitions, and feelings of cleverness, competence and power. Effects are very much like an adrenalin rush, with breathing and heart rate increasing. The appetite is also suppressed, the body's temperature increases, the pupils become dilated, and there is an increased risk of dehydration.

They have been used as medicines for instance for treating Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy. They have also been used as performance-enhancing drug, for instance by athletes, pilots, and truck drivers.

They have a bitter taste and usually come as a white, greyish white, pale pink or yellow powder, and sometimes as a brightly coloured tablet.

Amphetamines can be snorted, swallowed, injected, dissolved in a drink or smoked. (Source: GreenFacts, based on A to Z of Drugs  )



A generic term for several psychoactive preparations of the marijuana (hemp) plant, Cannabis sativa. They include marijuana leaf (in street jargon: grass, pot, dope, weed, or reefers), bhang, ganja, or hashish (derived from the resin of the flowering heads of the plant), and hashish oil.

Cannabis can be rolled with tobacco in a spliff or joint, smoked on its own in a pipe or bong, or eaten as part of a cake or cookie.

Cannabis intoxication produces a feeling of euphoria, lightness of the limbs, and often social withdrawal. It impairs driving and the performance of other complex, skilled activities; it impairs immediate recall, attention span, reaction time, learning ability, motor co-ordination, depth perception, peripheral vision, time sense (the individual typically has a sensation of slowed time), and signal detection. Other signs of intoxication may include excessive anxiety, suspiciousness or paranoid ideas in some and euphoria or apathy in others, impaired judgement, bloodshot eyes, increased appetite, dry mouth, abnormally rapid heart rate, as well a feeling of tiredness and lack of energy.

Although it is mostly quite mild, some forms of cannabis such as skunk are very strong and smokers can have a hallucinogenic reaction.

There are reports of cannabis use precipitating a relapse in schizophrenia. Acute anxiety and panic states and acute delusional states have been reported with cannabis intoxication; they usually remit within several days. (Source: GreenFacts, based on WHO Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms  )



Occurring over a long period of time, either continuously or intermittently; used to describe ongoing exposures and effects that develop only after a long exposure. (Source: US EPA Thesaurus  )

Circulatory system

The system that contains the heart and the blood vessels and moves blood throughout the body. This system helps tissues get enough oxygen and nutrients, and it helps them get rid of waste products. The lymph system, which connects with the blood system, is often considered part of the circulatory system. (Source: NCI Dictionary of cancer terms  )



Cocaine is a very strong stimulant drug affecting the nervous system.

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant found in South America and comes in the form of a white powder. In this form, cocaine can be snorted up the nose, tasted on the gums, or dissolved and injected.

Cocaine users feel – for about half an hour – a sense of well-being, confidence and alertness, and they are left with a craving for more, as well as a feeling of indifference. Users also experience dilated pupils, a rise in body temperature, and increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as the depression and tiredness of the comedown. (Source: GreenFacts, based on A to Z of Drugs  )



Depressants are substances that [diminish] the activity of the central nervous system.

Depressants are often referred to as "downers" because of their sedative, hypnotic, and tranquilizing effects.

There are both legal and illegal depressants. Alcohol is the most common legal depressant. Other depressants that are legal are often prescribed medications used to induce sleep, relieve stress, and subdue anxiety. (Source:   Depressants   )



Man-made stimulant psychoactive drug that combines the effects of amphetamines and hallucinogens, such as LSD.

Following intake, users commonly feel an initial rush of adrenaline, followed by a combination of feeling energetic but calm. Colour, sound, and emotions can seem more intense. Users can also experience nausea, as well as an increased heart rate. In some cases, the jaw will tightens, and the mouth and throat become dry as the user starts to sweat more

Ecstasy usually comes in the form of different coloured tablets and capsules, which are swallowed, but it can also be crushed and snorted, or smoked. (Source: GreenFacts, based on; A to Z of Drugs   )



Hallucinogens are chemical agents that induce alterations in perception, thinking, and feeling. Examples include LSD and PCP.

Effects are noted within 20-30 minutes of ingestion and include dilatation of the pupils, blood pressure elevation, abnormally rapid heart rate, involuntary trembling or quivering, overactive reflexes, and the psychedelic phase (consisting of euphoria or mixed mood changes, visual illusions and altered perceptions, a blurring of boundaries between self and non-self, and often a feeling of unity with the cosmos).

In addition to persistent or recurrent hallucinations that are regularly produced, adverse effects of hallucinogens are frequent and include bad trips, post-hallucinogen perception disorder or flashbacks, delusional disorder (the individual becomes convinced that the perceptual distortions experienced correspond with reality), and affective or mood disorder, which consist of anxiety, depression, or mania (typically, the individual feels that he or she can never be normal again and expresses concern about brain damage as a result of taking the drug). (Source: GreenFacts, based on WHO Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms  )



Inflammation of the liver caused by viruses (viral hepatitis) or by chronic exposure to medicines or toxins such as alcohol.

Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin caused by the buildup of bile pigments in the body), fever, appetite loss and gastrointestinal upset. (Source: GreenFacts)



Pain-killing drug made from the chemical morphine, which is extracted from the dried latex of the opium poppy. Heroin is extremely fast acting, and within a few seconds a small dose will give the user an instant feeling of well-being. Much larger doses can make users relaxed and drowsy.

Pure heroin is a white powder, but street heroin comes as a brownish-white powder that can be smoked, snorted or dissolved and injected. (Source: GreenFacts, based on A to Z of Drugs )


Immune system

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders. (Source: NIAID Immune System   )



It is the growth of a parasite within the human body that causes illness. It can be a virus, a bacteria, a fungus or a protozoa. (Source: GreenFacts )


A natural compound produced by the opium poppy and the main active agent in opium.

Morphine is a powerful pain-killing drug. (Source: GreenFacts )


Death. Usually the cause (a specific disease, a condition, or an injury) is stated. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms   )

Neurological effects

Effects to nervous system especially regarding structure, functions, and abnormalities. (Source: GreenFacts)


Class of drugs (e.g., heroin, codeine, methadone) that are derived from the opium poppy plant, contain opium, or are produced synthetically and have opium-like effects. Opioid drugs relieve pain, dull the senses, and induce sleep. (Source: San Francisco AIDS Foundation Glossary   )



A group or number of people living within a specified area or sharing similar characteristics (such as occupation or age). (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )



A precursor is a chemical which precedes and is the source of another. (Source: GreenFacts)



Relating to, or associated with the lungs. (Source: GreenFacts)

Risk assessment

A scientifically based process consisting of four steps:

  • hazard identification,
  • hazard characterization,
  • exposure assessment and
  • risk characterization
(Source:   Official Journal of the European Communities 2002 L 31 )



Stimulants are drugs that stimulate the activity of the central nervous system.

Stimulants are often referred to as "uppers" because they increase or speed up mental and physical processes in the body. Some are prescribed medically to increase alertness and physical activity.

Stimulants include nicotine (found in tobacco products), caffeine, amphetamines, ecstasy, and cocaine.

Stimulants can give rise to symptoms suggestive of intoxication, including abnormally rapid heart rate, dilatation of the pupils, elevated blood pressure, overactive reflexes, sweating, chills, nausea or vomiting, and abnormal behaviour such as fighting, hypervigilance, agitation, feelings of superiority, and impaired judgement. Chronic misuse commonly induces personality and behaviour changes such as impulsivity, aggressivity, irritability, and suspiciousness.

Cessation of intake after prolonged or heavy use may produce a withdrawal syndrome, with depressed mood, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and increased dreaming. (Source: GreenFacts, based on WHO Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms   )


The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was established in 1993.

Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies.

The EMCDDA exists to provide the EU and its Member States with a factual overview of European drug problems and a solid evidence base to support the drugs debate.

Today it offers policymakers the data they need for drawing up informed drug laws and strategies. It also helps professionals and practitioners working in the field pinpoint best practice and new areas of research. (Source:   )


Measures taken to treat a physical or mental disease.

First-line therapy is the first type of therapy given for a condition or disease.

Second-line therapy is the treatment that is given when initial treatment (first-line therapy) doesn't work, or stops working. (Source: based on St Jude Hospital Medical Terminology & Drug Database )

Threshold (in an ecosystem)

The level of magnitude of a system process at which sudden or rapid change occurs. (Source: Glossary of terms  )



The study of the harmful effects of substances on humans or animals. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )


Withdrawal refers to the physical and mental symptoms drug-dependent people experience when they stop taking the drug they depend upon or when they drastically reduce its use. (Source: GreenFacts)


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