medication vs. drugs


New Member
yes, i realize that the most common term used when we talk about our kids medications is *drugs*. it's a bit of a hot button for me.

i think it's all about perception....mainly the public perception ~~~ teachers, family, neighbors. drugs has such a negative conotation ~~~~ brings forth such bad image. street drugs, people *drugging* their kids into submission, etc. when people hear the word medication i think it makes it sound more positive overall.

i'm not critisizing anyone (janna, your post just reminded me to post about this....i think of it often & then forget to say anything (old timers' disease lol). i just would like people to think of what we, as parents, can do to help people to understand that our kids' medications are necessary to a successful & productive life.

just some thoughts.



New Member

I'm glad I gave you a reason to remember something this morning :rofl: I always hope to be useful for something.

Well, aren't stims narcotics?

What did I say? Drug? Yeah, well, you know, that's what it is. I didn't mean to offend you, or am I reading that wrong?

I guess at this point, with his current "cocktail", I feel I'm medicating his disease. However, I don't want to continue to medicate him to the point of him being in a comatose state. Hence, him being "drugged up".

Ehh, if I hit a soft spot, sorry :slap:



New Member
no, not offended, janna. this is more about the public's' perception of kids on medications. when media or anyone wants it to sound bad they call it drugging. me at a more positive perception.

this was more in the lines of a PSA lol. not a criticism if you know what i mean.



Active Member
I know what you mean, Kris. At the local school end of year luncheon I sat with a lovely lady who clearly didn't know a lot of my story who turned to me at one point and said, "Isn't it terrible the way some mothers drug their kids into oblivion when it's really just a matter of diet, or more careful parenting being needed?"
I didn't quite choke on my potato salad. She went on to say, "I've got ADHD myself and I don't use those drugs. If I need a stimulant I just drink cola, or have a cup of coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant - it's fine for the job."
I happen to know that:
1) this woman sells, via 'direct marketing' (aka pyramid selling) some 'herbal supplements' which are supposed to be the kind, gentle, safe and responsible way to treat special needs kids of all sorts; and
2) her husband is a pharmacist (not our usual one, thank goodness), he and she should know better.

I pointed out to her that anything alternative and natural is also going to have a pharmacological effect, if it's got any chance of having any benefit. A pharmacological effect may be positive or it may be a nasty reaction. it will vary from person to person. If a natural therapy is gentle, chances are it's because it has NO pharmacological effect whatsoever. I KNOW she's been selling alternative products to difficult child 3's autistic friend's mother, while telling her to NOT medicate her son as prescribed by the specialist.

And to say caffeine is better than stims, for a kid who's had stims prescribed, and for whom they clearly work? Irresponsible. I told her that difficult child 1 & difficult child 3 actually react badly to caffeine while they do well on dexamphetamine. She stuck by her caffeine theory - I said, "If it works for you that's fine, but everybody's different. My kids' doctor has carefully worked out the correct medication regime and the pills are manufactured to a highly specific level of purity and potency. I know the exact dosage of each pill and as a result, my children have the correct dosage administered at the right time each day. Dex, for my kids, is a finely tuned tool, instead of the blunt instrument which is caffeine."

Of course she would not be persuaded and I think was taken aback that the mum she was addressing (me) was one of the "irresponsible, lazy, drug-pushing parents" she deplored, even though I know she had previously respected me for other activities I'd been involved in. She left with an air of, "I never knew Marg was one of THOSE," although she is still polite and friendly when we meet.

Kris, I've decided - sometimes I will deliberately use the term 'drug' in order to shake up these erroneous preconceptions in such people. She had the training-by-association of her husband to mentally translate 'medication' into 'drug' anyway. And I've had enough of running and hiding from these people. I bring it into the open and invite them to criticise me to my face - that way they have to confront not only MY views, but their own misconceptions. I don't expect to convince anyone, just to make them think before they open their mouths and insert foot.



New Member
Well, I could take a piece of poop and paint it green, call it broccoli and put a photo here.

In the end - it is what it is.

Whichever. I can change my wordage. I guess I don't think before I hit submit too often. Sorry :shocked:



Well-Known Member
Actually Janna...Stims are NOT narcotics. Ritalin, Adderal, Concerta, and the other ADHD medications fall under the stimulant medication category. Narcotics are such things as pain medications. A narcotic is an addictive drug, derived from opium, that reduces pain, induces sleep and may alter mood or behavior. The derivation of the word is from the Greek word narkotikos, meaning "benumbing or deadening," and originally referred to a variety of substances that induce sleep (such state is narcosis).

In U.S. legal context, narcotic refers to opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic or fully synthetic substitutes as well as cocaine and coca leaves, which although classified as "narcotics" in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA), are chemically not narcotics.

Many law enforcement officials in the United States inaccurately use the word 'narcotic' to refer to any illegal drug or any unlawfully possessed drug. An example is referring to cannabis as a narcotic. Because the term is often used broadly, inaccurately or pejoratively outside medical contexts, most medical professionals prefer the more precise term opioid, which refers to all natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic substances that behave pharmacologically like morphine, the primary active constituent of natural opium poppy.


New Member
I had a response ready earlier this morning, but due to technical difficulties, I could not post it. It is similar to Dammit Janets reply.
stimulants are a controlled substance and so are narcotics, but technically stimulants are not narcotics. Medications are drugs. Altho most people do refer to Rx'ed drugs as medications and recreationally abused drugs as "drugs" Rx'ed medications and recreationally abused drugs can both do the same things to the body and the mind. Ideally the biggest difference is that a Rx'ed medication is taken under a doctors supervision.

The term "narcotic," derived from the Greek word for stupor, originally referred to a variety of substances that dulled the senses and relieved pain. Today, the term is used in a number of ways. Some individuals define narcotics as those substances that bind at opiate receptors (cellular membrane proteins activated by substances like heroin or morphine) while others refer to any illicit substance as a narcotic. In a legal context, narcotic refers to opium, opium derivitives, and their semi-synthetic substitutes. Cocaine and coca leaves, which are also classified as "narcotics" in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), neither bind opiate receptors nor produce morphine-like effects, and are discussed in the section on stimulants. For the purposes of this discussion, the term narcotic refers to drugs that produce morphine-like effects.
Narcotics are used therapeutically to treat pain, suppress cough, alleviate diarrhea, and induce anesthesia. Narcotics are administered in a variety of ways. Some are taken orally, transdermally (skin patches), or injected. They are also available in suppositories. As drugs of abuse, they are often smoked, sniffed, or injected. Drug effects depend heavily on the dose, route of administration, and previous exposure to the drug. Aside from their medical use, narcotics produce a general sense of well-being by reducing tension, anxiety, and aggression. These effects are helpful in a therapeutic setting but con tribute to their abuse.
Narcotic use is associated with a variety of unwanted effects including drowsiness, inability to concentrate, apathy, lessened physical activity, constriction of the pupils, dilation of the subcutaneous blood vessels causing flushing of the face and neck, constipation, nausea and vomiting, and most significantly, respiratory depression. As the dose is increased, the subjective, analgesic (pain relief), and toxic effect become more pronounced. Except in cases of acute intoxication, there is no loss of motor coordination or slurred speech as occurs with many depressants"
stimulants- (aka speed)
controlled substances- "The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was enacted into law by the Congress of the United States as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 USC 801 et sequitur). The CSA is the legal basis by which the manufacture, importation, possession, and distribution of certain drugs are regulated by the federal government of the United States. The Act also served as the national implementing legislation for the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
The legislation created five Schedules (classifications), with varying qualifications for a drug to be included in each. Two federal departments, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services (which includes the Food and Drug Administration) determine which drugs are added or removed from the various schedules, though the statute passed by Congress created the initial listing. Classification decisions are required to be made on the criteria of potential for abuse, accepted medical use in the United States, and potential for addiction.
The Department of Justice is also the executive agency in charge of federal law enforcement. State governments also regulate certain drugs not controlled at the federal level."

And like Janna, in my opinion, drugs are drugs. medications are drugs.
Lke fire they are dangerous and need to be used with respect and caution, and medications can still do some of the same things to you whether you have a Rx or not.

I could not cut copy and paste the info about stimulants due to something with the way that site made their page, but it does have some interesting things.
Something to remember about stimulants is they are what is known on the streets as speed.

Someone can borrow or steal the medication Adderall from a kid who has been Rx'ed adderall, and while it might be "medication" for the person it is Rx'ed for, in the hands of the person who it is not Rx'ed for it is a recreational drug. Interesting, in both the kid it is rx'ed for and the one it is not rx'ed for, if they ingest it the same way in the same doses, it can likely give the same results.
In some areas pharmacists are called "druggists" and pharmacies are called "drug stores"


New Member
i guess i'm not expressing myself very well.

i wasn't referring to the types of medications our kids need specifically...stimulants, mood stabilizers, narcotics for pain. i'm talking about the public perception our words evoke. when a parent says their kid takes drugs it brings on the negative side of the situation. when you refer to it as medications it's in my opinion a more positive way of saying it.

of course medications are drugs. i'm not arguing that. i think a parent would feel much more comfortable if the doctor suggests medicating their child or themselves than if they are asked if they are willing to drug their kids or if the doctor says are you willing to take drugs.

is that any clearer???



New Member
docs and nurses still call it drug therapy.
I am not sure anyone should make it feel more comfortable.
Drugs are like fire and need to be used with caution and respect. They are serious business. If someone hears us talking about the "drugs" our child is taking, then they should be enough in the conversation to know the "drugs" are being Rx'ed. ANd if they know the drugs are being Rx'ed, then they must know there is a reason.

But, yes, for the record, when I am speaking about non Rx'ed substances I usually use the word "drug" and when it is a Rx'ed drug, I usually use the word "medication" ---but not always. ANd I used to tell my husband, did you take your happy pill today, meaning his antianxiety medication, and I tease my son about his steroid drops and sometimes say to him lets juice your eye. and when I take MY steroid, I say hmm, time for my feel good pill, and when I take my anticancer immune trashing drug I say OK trash my immune system, do your job. and when we see someone out in public who has an especially flat affect we wonder if they took too many happy pills, or chill pills. and whether they are Rx'ed or not. (I mean come on, when someone has a car accident and their car is totaled and they step out and look at the car and shrug.....and do not even get a LIL upset- you hafta wonder)

Truth is people can be abusing and or misusing drugs whether they get them by Rx from the doctor or not.....and the word medication well- if the neighbor comes over and steals some of our it then a medication or a drug?
How about if the neighbor comes over and borrows it instead or stealing it? Borrowing it becuz he has a Rx for it but has not gotten it in yet thru his medications by mail. Then is it a drug or medication?
Is it a medication or a drug if you are not entirely honest with a doctor when you get a Rx for something? Is it medication or a drug when you are Rx'ed something but then you start to alter the dose to suit yourself without discussing it with the doctor?
Bottom line is medications are still drugs, no matter what pretty name you put on it. ANd truth is "chemotherapy" conjures up images of cancer, but drug treatment is considered a chemotherapy.....a therapy using chemicals--drugs.
and pharmacology is study and use of drugs.

No matter what name you use, there are still going to be people who are against it, still going to be people who disagree, or misunderstand.....still going to be people who think others are too quick to use medications, people who are too cavalier about medications. Using a pretty name will not change any of that.
And you can call the disorders and illnesses and symptoms by all kinds of names, but, same thing, there is still going to be a lot of misunderstanding, fingerpointing, denial, blame, etc. call it mood disorder, call it bipolar, call it mental illness, mental challenge, chemical imbalance, brain disorder, neurorological disorder.......bottom line is it still sucks, it is still difficult to have, difficult to live with or around.......whether you call it "whacked out" or neurological brain disorder.

ANd people are only going to be informed properly if they want to be. If they do not want to become educated you can name something anything you want.


Well-Known Member

Back the dang train up!

Look...I take prescription medications that I was prescribed by a doctor. I dont take illegal drugs. I take extreme offense to the idea that someone would reference what I do as "drugging".

Bringing in any of the off the wall situations that could arise if someone stole, abused, borrowed, or otherwise misused prescription medications just muddies the waters of this discussion. It isnt pertinent to what Kris was talking about.

Hopefully people who come here understand that parents and doctors take the time to make careful decisions in the choice to medicate a person.