Hard and soft drugs are loose categories of non-proscription psychoactive drugs.
This distinction is used in both official and casual discourse.
The term hard drug generally refers to drugs illegal for nonmedical use that lead to profound and severe addiction, as opposed to soft drugs that has weaker or no physical withdrawal symptoms.
Some so-called soft drugs are however strongly habit-forming for other reasons than physical withdrawal symptoms, the dividing up between hard and soft drugs is therefore only accepted in the legislation in certain countries, such as Netherlands.
The executive director of UNODC, for example, does not accept cannabis as a soft drug.
Classification of alcohol and nicotine as hard drugs is also commonly rejected in most countries.
A large part of the distinction a subjective, socially conceived notion of the consequences of usage for each. Depending on context, a particular drug can be categorized in many different ways for various reasons.
Examples of hard drugs include heroin, morphine, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, and nicotine ( tobacco).
Drugs in this group are generally described as being physically addictive, easier to overdose on, and/or posing serious health and social risks, including death.
Most, if not all, of these drugs are stimulants or depressants.
Some of these drugs (alcohol and tobacco) can be freely purchased by adults, some can be purchased only with a doctors prescription, and two (heroin and cocaine) are generally illegal, although cocaine is sometimes used legally as a local anesthetic and heroin is legally used as an analgesic in some countries: for example, the United Kingdom.
A few analgesics even stronger than heroin , Fentanyl, widely used in the U.S, but are usually administered directly by doctors.
Ketamine is sometimes thought of as being a hard drug, as it is the only highly addictive hallucinogen, it is also easy to overdose when taking the substance which could lead even to death.
It is for this reason ketamine is often referred to as the speed of the hallucinogens.
Whereas by others all strong psychedelics ( LSD, ketamine, mescaline, salvia etc.) have the potential to be in this grouping.
The reasons some people believe this is because they can cause psychological trauma, and have to power to change a personís personality.
However this is not often the case and many users believe psychedelics have the power to show a user something about themselves, which they didnít already notice, and then changed themselves for the good.
In between hard drugs and soft drugs
Not all drugs fit under the hard drug or soft drug label.
Examples of these include MDMA, Ketamine, and caffeine.
MDMA shares some features with soft drugs in that it doesn't produce physical addiction.
Some studies however say that it might be psychologically addictive, though such a claim is very controversial in the medical community.
It is also easier to overdose on than many soft drugs, though not as much as many hard drugs.
Caffeine, although legal and unregulated in nearly all jurisdictions, does have a mild addiction potential (both physical and psychological) that can lead to caffeinism.
Its overdose potential is also higher than that of soft drugs, though nowhere near hard drugs.
If used often, caffeine can also give rise to bodily stress, ulcers, and irregular heartbeat, which can sometimes lead to death, though more deaths occur from overdose.
Despite this, caffeine is still safer than most hard drugs.
Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world.
Examples of soft drugs include cannabis, mescaline, psilocybin, and LSD.
MDMA and caffeine are sometimes included as soft drugs, see above.
The term soft drug is most usually applied to cannabis ( marijuana or hashish).
The distinction between soft drugs and hard drugs is important in the drug policy of the Netherlands, where cannabis production, retailing and use come under official tolerance, subject to certain conditions.
Other drugs such as psilocybin mushrooms and LSD are also considered soft drugs by many because there is no evidence of physical addiction, and a toxic overdose on these substances requires in some cases, hundreds of times a normal dose.
However, it is possible for one to take more than one is psychologically capable of handling which leads to dangerous situations and negative experiences.
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