1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar


Drugs in everyday life By Dr. Zach Levine

BT Montreal | posted Wednesday, Nov 8th, 2017

Drug: a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.


**A substance taken into the body by any form (orally, intravenously, transdermally, intramuscularly, intranasally…) that affects the way our body functions, the way we think, or the way we feel — ie medications, OTC, illegal drugs, drinks and foods



Illicit: forbidden by law, rules, or custom

Narcotic:a drug or other substance affecting mood or behavior and sold for nonmedical purposes, especially an illegal one

Illegal and controlled “recreational” drugs in Canada:


Cocaine (stimulant from coca plant)

LSD (hallucinogen, altered sensorium)

Opiates – Heroin (semisynthetic), Fentanyl (synthetic)

Ecstasy (MDMA) – a stimulant

Ketamine – trance-like state, analgesia, sedation

Methamphetamine – stimulant

Magic mushrooms – change mood and perception, cause hallucinations

GHB – sedative, colourless and odourless

Rohypnol (nitrazepam)


Performance Enhancing Drugs:  (some legal, some not)

Anabolic steroids to build muscle

Stimulants to enhance performance and alertness

Also, amphetamine and methylphenidate increase power output at constant levels of perceived exertion and delay the onset of fatigue


Sedatives (to steady nerves and hands (eg/ for archery) for performance (beta blockers for performance anxiety)

Blood doping – to increase O2 carrying capacity of blood, for endurance sports


People use recreational (as opposed to performance enhancing) drugs for reasons including to change the way they feel, for pleasure, to self-medicate, and for social reasons.


Legal substances people use to affect how they feel or act:


Alcohol — legal at age 18 in QC, Alberta, Manitoba, 19 in the rest of the provinces.  It is the most abused substance in Canada



Psychoactive prescription medications

— ritalin, adderall — stimulants for treating ADHD

–Sleeping pills

–Depression (SSRI’s)

–Anti-anxiety medications

–For performance anxiety (beta blockers)


Legal, OTC stimulants:





The point is not to suggest an equivalence between all drugs.  At some point most people use some substance to alter how they feel and some to enhance performance, even if at work or school.


Illicit drugs can be deadly, especially cocaine, fentanyl.  Part of what makes them deadly is the lack of oversight so they can be “laced.”


There are many important questions, such as whether it’s fair if only some people have access to performance enhancing substances, whether it would be safer if drugs were legalized and regulated.


But for a doctor the main concern is your health, so we need to know what you took (or think you took)