Drugs of Abuse and Dependence

The Misuse of Drug Act ( 1971 ) was framed to command the handiness of any drug which is doing or may do injury to society. Critically appraise the categorization of drugs controlled by the statute law utilizing specific illustrations.


Misuse of Drug Act 1971 was formed to command and forestall the abuse of unsafe or otherwise harmful drugs in the UK. Under this act, controlled substances were classified into three chief categories based on their injuriousness with Class A substances were the most harmful and Class C substances were less harmful. Most of the illicit drugs were mind-altering drugs such as cocaine, hemp, pep pills, etc, that without uncertainty can do injury to both single and society. One of the widely used illicit substances was hemp in which its usage has caused public concern of its mind-altering effects on both single and society. Therefore, this has caused the re-assessment of the categorization of hemp under the Misuse of Drug Act 1971. In January 2009, cannabis which was originally a category C controlled substance was reclassified as category B controlled substance. No uncertainty hemp can do injury, the exclusion of intoxicant and baccy which both have harm evaluations that are comparable to category A and category B substances from the act has been claimed to be arbitrary and it has raised endless arguments on the cogency of the categorization of drugs controlled by the statute law.

Cogency of Misuse of Drug Act 1971

Scientists claimed that the category A, B and C system under Misuse of Drug Act could give false indicant of drugs ‘ injuriousness as the system does non reflect the comparative hazards of each drug. Statistical surveies showed that merely minority of the most harmful drugs abuse contributes to drug-related decease each twelvemonth. Obviously, ecstasy ingestion contributes to less than 10 deceases per annum whereas alcohol poisoning causes at least 1 decease per hebdomad in the UK. Unlike the current category ABC categorization system, evidence-based categorization of drugs by a panel of experts was claimed to reflect the injuriousness of drugs more accurately. It eliminated bias and premises in drugs categorization as drugs were assessed based on its injury to single, society and its ability to bring on dependance. Alcohol and baccy are two most widely used legal drugs in the UK ; evidence-based drugs categorization system revealed that intoxicant and baccy are more harmful than hemp and therefore does non warrant for the current category ABC system under Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Despite the fact that current drug ‘s policies were claimed to be unfit for its intent, the Home Office Minister revealed that they have no purpose of reexamining the current drugs categorization system therefore far. Previous Home Office Minister, Vernon Coaker claimed that their chief precedence was “ to accomplish injury decrease by concentrating on enforcement, instruction and intervention ” . However, statistical surveies showed that the mortality rate related to drug usage does non diminish significantly. This has caused public debates whether the current controlled drugs categorization system is merely a historic bequest. The footing of Misuse of Drug Act 1971 was claimed to be extremely similar to Pharmacy Act 1868 despite holding more than 100 old ages had passed. Therefore, the cogency of Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in current society is in inquiry.


A panel of experts led by David Nutt has re-assessed the injury evaluations of 20 substances including intoxicant and baccy based on scientific cognition and grounds. Heroin was still rated as the most harmful illicit drug by these independent experts. However, intoxicant was found to be the 5th most harmful substance whereas baccy was rated to be the 9th most harmful substance from the list. Having said that, these two substances are the most widely used legal substances that have great potency of being misused. Since intoxicant and baccy were included in top 10 most harmful substances, their exclusion from the Misuse of Drug Act 1971 has caused the drug ranking under the Misuse of Drug Act 1971 seemed arbitrary. The injuriousness of drug should be assessed in every possible facets including direct and indirect injury to the person, household and society,

Should Alcohol Listed as Illicit Substance?

Alcohol ingestion is portion of the new civilization in the UK. Drinks that contained intoxicant can be easy obtained from off-license shop or supermarket every bit long as the buyers are 18 old ages old or above. Such easy entree to obtaining intoxicant has caused imbibing issues to lift in the UK. The recommended imbibing bound for work forces is a upper limit of 21 units per hebdomad whereas 14 units per hebdomad for adult females. However, National Health ( NHS ) pointed that no degree of intoxicant ingestion is safe and the recommended imbibing bound was intended to cut down the hazards of developing diseases related to alcohol ingestion. Harmonizing to North West Public Health Observatory ( NWPHO ) in 2007, about 1.55 million of people in the UK were estimated to devour intoxicant at harmful degrees whereas another 6.3 million consume at risky degree. This has caused the decease rates related to alcohol ingestion to lift and was thought to impact the offense, divorce, force and productiveness rate in the state. Graph 1 showed that the intoxicant related decease rate has doubled in 2006 compared to that of 1991 in the UK.

Graph 1 The intoxicant related decease rate per 100,000 populations in the UK reported for 1991, 2005 and 2006.

Alcohol is a psychotropic substance that could give the euphoric consequence when it is drunk in moderateness. It is a cardinal nervous system ( CNS ) sedative which it affects the CNS by heightening the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid ( GABA ) to cut down anxiousness and aggression. Most persons claimed to hold positive feelings such as experiencing relaxed, happier and less disquieted after imbibing. Such positive feelings have caused most persons to go on imbibing on regular footing and sometimes transcending the recommended bound. Acute intoxicant ingestion was found to cut down Ca ion entry in the nerve cells that will cut down the neurotransmitter release in the CNS. Therefore, long term intoxicant ingestion will do the up-regulation of Ca ion channels in CNS in order to reconstruct the Ca ions entry into the nerve cells. Such alterations in the CNS could do alcohol tolerance and dependance. The Ca ions entry and neurotransmitter released in CNS are increased to above normal degree when intoxicant is withdrawn which later lead to physical abstention syndromes. Physical abstention syndromes could be terrible and frequently affect sudating, shudder, sickness, hallucinations. However, these symptoms last merely a few yearss which will lessen easy over clip. For some persons, these symptoms do non lessen but develop into most terrible status of ‘delirium tremens ‘ which involves confusion, aggression, terrible hallucination and finally cardiovascular prostration that contributes to about 15 to 50 % of mortality rate. Alcohol has high Calorie content which could fulfill one ‘s Calorie demands without holding normal diets which leads to malnutrition. Most alkies were found to hold vitamin B1 lack which is besides a factor that causes encephalon harm.

Not merely chronic inordinate intoxicant ingestion causes encephalon harm, it besides causes irreversible hepatic fibrosis and mortification. Basically, intoxicant is metabolized in the liver by intoxicant dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase ( Figure 1 ) .

Acetaldehyde which is hepatotoxic is produced during intoxicant metamorphosis in the liver. Under normal fortunes, the ethanal will be converted to acetic acid and finally to H2O and C dioxide by the aldehyde dehydrogenase. However, inordinate imbibing will do hepatic enzymes impregnation and hence ethanal accretion which can take to alcoholic liver disease. Statistical surveies showed that the figure of deceases related to alcoholic liver disease has increased by 41 % from 1999 to 2005 and the alcohol-related disease infirmary admittance in the UK has increased by 71 % from 2002 to 2006 in the UK. Apart from alcoholic liver disease, intoxicant ingestion during gestation can do foetal intoxicant syndrome ( FAS ) in foetus with common characteristics of retarded growing, unnatural seventh cranial nerve development, deformity of eyes, etc. Recently, a survey revealed that intoxicant ingestion during gestation increased the hazard of acute myeloid leukaemia in kids. This clearly shows that imbibing intoxicant is non merely strictly something that is gratifying.

Other than physical and mental wellness issues, intoxicant abuse was found to be related to offenses. One of the chief intoxicant related offenses was rummy drive which could non merely harm the person but besides the riders on board and other drivers on route. Harmonizing to Institute of Alcohol Studies ( IAS ) factsheet on intoxicant and accidents, 1 in 5 route deceases was found to be caused by rummy drive. Besides intoxicated drive, other condemnable offenses such as breach of peace and sexual assaults are more likely to go on under the influence of intoxicant. Alcohol abuse could give negative impact on single and household as it was found to be closely related to domestic maltreatment, unemployment, divorce, self-destructions, etc. Statistical surveies estimated that about 17 million on the job yearss were lost yearly due to alcohol abuse in the UK. This will non merely impact the productiveness of the state but besides the quality of services at work.

Since intoxicant ingestion has been proven to give broad scope of negative impacts on persons, household, society and state, appropriate schemes should be planned to cut down its damaging effects. The handiness of intoxicant in the state can be controlled by cut downing the licensing hours for spiritss selling. Besides that, random roadside intoxicant testing by alcometer can be done to greatly cut down rummy drive. Appropriate runs can be held in school and public countries to increase public consciousness of the intoxicant ‘s harm to physical, mental and societal wellness. As healthcare professional, druggists should promote patients who intend to discontinue imbibing by supplying supports such as medical specialty usage reappraisals, reding household members to back up each other, etc. As mentioned earlier, the physical abstention syndromes will lessen within a few yearss, nevertheless the craving for more intoxicant does non travel off easy and that is one of the chief factors that causes backsliding into inordinate imbibing once more. Pharmacists should on a regular basis reexamine on the patients ‘ patterned advance on intoxicant backdown so that appropriate pharmacological attack can be tailored harmonizing to patients ‘ conditions. For illustration, acamprosate can be used to cut down hungering for intoxicant whereas benzodiazepines are utile in cut downing the acute abstention syndrome.

Obviously, chronic intoxicant ingestion leads to fatal diseases and inordinate imbibing can give negative impacts on persons, households and the state. Since intoxicant has harm rankings that are comparable to illicit substances, its exclusion from the Misuse of Drug Act 1971 has caused scientists to claim that the drug categorization system under the act to be arbitrary.

Should ecstasy be a Class A Controlled Substance?

The chemical name of rapture is known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine ( MDMA ) which was the most widely misuse drug in early 1990s ( Figure 2 ) . MDMA is a derivative of Methedrine ( METH ) which is besides a Class A illicit substance. More frequently than non, MDMA was taken in the dance nines or by persons that need to remain awake under highly fatigue conditions. Basically, MDMA is a psychomotor stimulating substance in which its ague ingestion can give positive feelings such as sudden wellbeing, watchfulness, etc.

Figure 2 Chemical Structure of MDMA ( or ‘ecstasy ‘ )

It acts by suppressing the monoamine transporters in the nervus terminuss and therefore increasing the synaptic norepinephrine ( NA ) , Dopastat and 5-hydroxytryptamine ( 5-HT ) degree. A survey showed that MDMA was found to do greater 5-HT release than Dopastat in the encephalon. Acute addition of serotonin degree was believed to give the watchfulness consequence even if the persons are physically fatigue. However, hyperthermy was observed in persons shortly after taking high dosage of MDMA. Sustained high organic structure temperature could do encephalon harm and multiple variety meats failure and finally decease. Besides that, MDMA was found to excite inordinate release of antidiuretic endocrines within the organic structure that causes H2O keeping. Some persons were found to imbibe H2O overly seeking to ‘cool ‘ themselves down after high dosage of MDMA. However, they get H2O poisoning ( hyponatraemia ) due to H2O keeping within kidneys. Harmonizing to Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs ( ACMD ) , merely 1 instance of fatal hyponatraemia was reported in 2006 and most of the reported hyponatraemina were non-fatal.

Unlike other psychotropic substances, MDMA was reported to hold less likely to do long-run physical dependance since it stimulates serotonin pathway preponderantly. Besides, MDMA users were found to be less aggressive as compared to other substance misusers. The Association of Chief Police Officers revealed that MDMA users were less likely to perpetrate public offenses as compared to alcohol and other psychotropic substances. Although MDMA can without uncertainty have negative impacts on some persons, MDMA misusers were found more likely to be in employment and less likely to be involved in sexual assaults compared to other psychotropic substances. These proved that MDMA usage had less impact on the society compared to other substances.

Appropriate schemes should be planned to cut down its damaging effects to persons and society. As healthcare professional, druggists should be involved in the public consciousness runs to educate the populace because illegal MDMA supply may incorporate other harmful substances which could take to fatal side-effects. Pharmacists should be equipped to manage critical state of affairs such as when patient is sing hyperthermy or H2O poisoning after high dosage of MDMA consumption. No uncertainty that MDMA ingestion will do the feeling of thirst ; druggists have the duty to educate the populace that H2O is non the counterpoison to MDMA and therefore MDMA ingestion should be avoided. Since MDMA was found to be related to encephalon harm, public should be informed about the ague and chronic hazards of MDMA ingestion.

Harmonizing to ACMD, the original categorization of MDMA was made back in 1977 where its exact mechanisms and injuries were non well-studied yet. By sing its physical, mental and social injuries, MDMA was found non to be every bit harmful as intoxicant. However, MDMA is a category A substance listed under the Misuse of Drug Act 1971 whereas intoxicant is non included. Since the formation of the Misuse of Drug Act 1971 was intended to restrict the supply and ownership of harmful substances, exclusion of harmful intoxicant from the act has been claimed to be arbitrary.


The current drug categorization system in the UK seemed to be non crystalline plenty as it was claimed to non merely strictly involve scientific grounds but besides political factor. Besides, the Misuse of Drug Act 1971 was claimed to be nil more than history bequest because there were no major alterations or reappraisals on its cogency in today ‘s society therefore far. Therefore, the category ABC drug categorization system under the act should be reviewed chiefly based on scientific grounds with less political factor engagement.