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Drug Education Introduction



Drug Education Introduction
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.35

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    amoxicillin, codeine, mind-altering, heartburn, analgesics, physician, marijuana, provides, abuse, aspirin, effective, cocaine, unhealthy, pharmacy, diarrhea, penicillin


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Drug Education Introduction
By Jennifer Kenny
  

1     Are drugs good or bad for you? Well, that is certainly a question worthy of discussion since there's not a yes or no answer. Was that a trick question? Not exactly. Think about it. What do aspirin and cocaine have in common? They're both drugs. Drugs are chemical substances that cause changes, physical or emotional, in an individual. To go back to the first question then, drugs can be labeled good or bad depending on their purpose. Drugs used for medicine are meant to help sick people. People looking to change their brain functioning in an unhealthy way use drugs labeled as drugs of abuse.
 
2     A medicine is a drug used to prevent, treat, or cure an illness or pain. Did you ever take amoxicillin for an ear infection? You were taking a medicine, prescribed by a doctor, to get rid of the pain and sickness. To be a medicine, a drug can be described as having three qualities - effectiveness, safety, and side effects. A medicine is considered effective when it is good at its job. For example, penicillin is effective at wiping out certain bacteria. Medicines must be safe to use for the purpose for which they are intended. You wouldn't want to take medicine for bronchitis if it would hurt your heart, would you? Finally, most medicines have side effects, which are listed on their packaging. Just as each person is a unique individual, not every medicine will be 100% safe for 100% of the people. Common side effects include drowsiness and diarrhea. Only the physician and patient can decide what side effects are dangerous or worth it for the patient.
 
3     Medicines are classified by their jobs. If you have ever walked into a pharmacy, you know there are many kinds out there. For example, analgesics relieve pain. Antihistamines help allergies. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Antacids relieve heartburn. You can get these, and many others, in one of two ways at a pharmacy - by prescription or over-the-counter. What do these words mean? A prescription is a written order by a doctor. It is filled in the pharmacy so the patient can take a certain medication. That means a licensed pharmacist prepares the medicine, provides the proper amount, and lists the doctor's directions. A person would not be able to obtain this medicine without the doctor's prescription. An over-the-counter medicine can be purchased without a prescription by a doctor. Two medicines might be classified the same way but one may require a prescription and one may not. For example, you already know that analgesics relieve pain. Well, aspirin and codeine are both analgesics. Aspirin can be bought without a prescription, but codeine is much more powerful and, therefore, needs a prescription. With or without a prescription, all drugs must be used carefully.

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