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Drug control policy - glossary RSS


  • Amphetamine and amphetamine-type stimulants

    The amphetamine-like drugs include amphetamine itself (speed), methamphetamine and ecstasy (MDMA), among many others.

    They are central nervous system stimulants and among the most commonly used drugs in the EU. Amphetamines are sold in form of powders, liquids, crystals, tablets and capsules.


  • BZP

    1-benzylpiperazine (BZP) is a synthetic substance.

    Like amphetamine and methamphetamine, BZP is a central nervous system stimulant, but with a much lower potency (around 10 % of that of d-amphetamine).

    EU wide control measures of BZP came into effect in March 2008.

  • Buprenorphine

    Buprenorphine is one of the synthetic opioid drugs used in substitution therapy.

    This is a form of treatment which can help problem drug users to regain a normal life while being treated with a substance that stops him from experiencing withdrawal symptoms.


  • "Crack" cocaine

    "Crack" Cocaine is a street term for cocaine that has been treated for use by smoking or inhaling vapours to provide immediate and intense effects.

  • Cannabis

    Cannabis is naturally occurring drug made from parts of the cannabis plant. It is a mild sedative and a mild hallucinogen. The main active compound in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

    It is the most widely used drugs in the EU.

  • Cocaine

    Cocaine is a stimulant drug extracted from the leaves of the coca bush.

    The chemical name of the processed drug is cocaine hydrochloride and it is generally sold 'on the street' as a crystalline powder, known by a range of street names, such as 'coke', 'snow' and 'Charlie'.


  • Drug Demand Reduction

    This term covers actions which seek to reduce the demand for illicit drugs : prevention programmes, treatment, harm reduction, rehabilitation and social reintegration services.

  • Drug Supply Reduction

    This term covers the range of measures and legal instruments to reduce the supply of illicit drugs.

    This includes drug cultivation, production and trafficking of illicit drugs, the diversion of chemical precursors imported outside the EU, drugs-related crime and the associated money laundering.



    Exchange on Drug Demand Reduction Action (EDDRA) is the EMCDDA's online databanks which provides details on a range of evaluated prevention, treatment and harm reduction interventions in EU countries, as well as interventions within the criminal justice system.

  • Ecstasy

    Ecstasy refers to synthetic substances that are chemically related to amphetamines, but differ in their effects.

    Tablets are the most common form and the drug is popular on the clubbing scene.


  • Harm Reduction

    The aims of a harm reduction approach are to reduce the incidence of drug use-related infections (HIV, hepatitis C) and overdose, and encourage active drug users to contact health and social services.

    Interventions include needle and syringe programmes, drug consumption rooms and pill testing.

  • Heroin

    Heroin is a natural opiate made from morphine. Morphine is extracted from the opium poppy. The most commonly known 'street' heroin is sold as 'brown' and the less common white heroin (a salt form).

    It can either be smoked or dissolved in water and injected or, if high purity, it can be snorted.


  • Legal Highs

    ' Legal Highs' are synthetic psychoactive or herbal substances which produce the same, or similar effects, to illicit drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy.

    They are designed to circumvent drug control legislation and marketed as plant food, bath crystals or pond cleaners.


  • Mephedrone

    A stimulant drug belonging to the chemical family of cathinones which is a group of drugs that are 'cousins' of the family of amphetamine compounds.

    Mephedrone has been marketed by online suppliers as a legal alternative to ecstasy or cocaine.

    An EU wide control ban came into effect in 2010.

  • Methadone

    Methadone is used in substitution therapy.

    This is a form of treatment which can help problem drug users able to regain a normal life while being treated with a substitute substance that stops him from experiencing withdrawal symptoms.


  • Precursors

    Precursor chemicals are required to make illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamines.

    Their licit international movement is controlled by international conventions and at EU level via EU regulations.



  • Substitution Treatment

    Drugs have been developed to help treat heroin addiction.

    These include opiate substitutes for heroin such as methadone and subutex (buprenorphine) and also drugs like naltrexone that block the effects of heroin.

  • Synthetic Drugs

    Synthetic drugs are artificially produced substances for the illicit market which are almost wholly manufactured from chemical compounds in illicit laboratories such as amphetamines, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines.