All substances listed here have been declared a public concern by government officials, medical caregivers, or news media. If a listing mentions another drug's name in bold type, that drug has an entry of its own in this section of the book.
Some drugs have similar effects. For example, most anabolic steroids promote development of male characteristics when used by females. If an individual anabolic steroid is known to have that effect, that information is given in the individual listing. Such a style might make some entries seem repetitive if someone is looking up one anabolic steroid after another, but this approach improves the odds of important information being communicated. A cross-reference style that expects readers to flip back and forth among pages to "see this" or "see that" in order to avoid repetition might work for scientists, but for readers of this book, ease of usage is more important.
Although many drugs of abuse are described in this section, many others exist that are not included here. The choice of which to include and which to leave out was based on several factors. The first was whether a drug is listed in the U.S. government schedule of controlled substances. Another factor was whether a drug is abused even though it is not a controlled substance. Still another factor was whether enough data exist in the scientific literature to provide solid information. With some drugs described here, scientific information is scanty concerning particular aspects of a given drug, such as potential for causing cancer; that lack is specifically noted where relevant in drug descriptions.
Drugs are alphabetized by common name. Listings are arranged in the following manner:
Pronunciation: The proper way to pronounce a substance's name is given here.
Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number: This number (CAS RN) is unique to every chemical, just like a fingerprint or a U.S. Social Security number is unique to each person. Drugs, like people, may go by different names, but different-sounding drugs having the same CAS RN are identical—that is, chemically and structurally the same. The CAS RN can be used to search various databases for more information about a drug and can also be used to confirm that a scientific report is indeed about the drug in question.
Formal Names: Entries in this section are a partial list of brand names and generic names. Some are for combination products including the drug. These names are used by scientists and health care providers.
Informal Names: These are casual and slang terms for the drug. The lists are not necessarily complete, but they do include typical informal names. Some nicknames are used for more than one drug.
Type: The type of drug and its class are given so a reader can refer to pages elsewhere in this book having background information about that substance.
Federal Schedule Listing: The status line gives the drug's legal standing (see page 6 for explanations of "schedules") and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Controlled Substances Code Number if the drug is a controlled substance.
USA Availability: The availability line tells what must normally be done to obtain the substance legally in the United States. Normally Schedule V substances are prescription, but can be nonprescription in some state jurisdictions. A non-prescription item may still have other regulations limiting its availability, such as requiring a purchaser to be an adult or to register the purchase, as with over-the-counter (OTC) codeine-containing cough medicines. A substance may be legally available but may become illegal if used in prohibited ways.
Pregnancy Category: Not all drugs have an official pregnancy category designation. For example, such a rating does not exist for substances lacking official approval for therapeutic use. See page 8 for an explanation of categories.
Occasionally information in one of the above listings could not be verified despite diligent search. In such cases the topic is omitted. The detailed descriptions of each drug are arranged to cover:
• abuse factors
• (some but not all) drug interactions
• (in some cases) additional information
Reliable sources of additional scientific information are suggested at the end of each individual substance entry. At the back of this book is a list of general information sources, some of which may have additional data about the substance covered in the alphabetical entry. Many drugs have been studied for decades, and some references reflect the venerable history of such studies.
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