Showcasing Pharmacology: Let’s Know about Drugs and Social Impacts

Showcasing Pharmacology: Let’s Know about Drugs and Social Impacts

18 Pharmacology


Pharmacology, a field encompassing the study of drug composition, characteristics, and their medical applications, delves into the sources and effects of various substances on living organisms. Throughout history, pharmacology has evolved significantly. Its roots can be traced back to the Middle Ages when early pharmacologists primarily explored natural compounds, especially extracts from plants. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that pharmacology truly flourished as a biomedical science.

At its core, a drug is any substance that, upon absorption into a living organism, induces changes in normal bodily functions. These substances are broadly categorized into two types. Pharmaceutical or medicinal drugs, for instance, encompass chemical substances employed in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, or cure of diseases. However, some drugs can lead to dependency or addiction. These addictive drugs cause the user’s body to become accustomed to them, often resulting in an inability to function adequately without their presence.

Within the realm of pharmacology, understanding the functions of pharmaceutical drugs is crucial, as is recognizing the risks associated with addictive drugs. Exploring these facets sheds light on the profound impact these substances can have on individuals and societies.

Prior to 1890, pharmacology was referred to as Materia Medica, showcasing its historical evolution and transformation over time. In the context of drug availability, prescription drugs are dispensed exclusively upon a physician’s prescription, encompassing substances such as barbiturates, antibiotics, and tranquilizers. Conversely, non-prescription drugs, deemed safe enough for over-the-counter sales, include common remedies like aspirin and certain cough medicines. This differentiation in accessibility underscores the varying degrees of safety and potential risks associated with different categories of drugs.


  1. What are the sources of drugs? Give examples.
  2. Write a note on sedatives, narcotics, and hallucinogens.
  3. Describe the main groups of antibiotics.
  4. Write a note on resistance against antibiotics.
  5. Describe the mode of action of vaccines.
  1. Ans: Sources of Drugs: Drugs originate from diverse sources, including natural substances, synthetic compounds, and biological agents. Natural sources encompass plants, animals, minerals, and microorganisms.
  2. Examples include:
    • Plants: Opium from poppies (for morphine), quinine from cinchona bark (for treating malaria), and aspirin from willow bark.
    • Animals: Insulin derived from pigs or recombinant DNA technology and antivenoms from snake or spider venoms.
    • Microorganisms: Penicillin from Penicillium mold, streptomycin from Streptomyces bacteria, and various antibiotics.
  3. Ans: Sedatives, Narcotics, and Hallucinogens:
    • Sedatives: These drugs depress the central nervous system, inducing relaxation and sleepiness. They include substances like benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium) and barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital).
    • Narcotics: These drugs alleviate pain but also produce a sense of euphoria. Opioids such as morphine, codeine, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl fall into this category.
    • Hallucinogens: These drugs alter perception, mood, and cognitive processes, leading to hallucinations. Examples include LSD, psilocybin (found in certain mushrooms), and MDMA (ecstasy).
  4. Ans: Main Groups of Antibiotics:
    • Penicillins: Effective against a wide range of bacteria, they inhibit cell wall synthesis.
    • Cephalosporins: Similar to penicillins in action but effective against some bacteria resistant to penicillins.
    • Tetracyclines: Inhibit protein synthesis in bacteria.
    • Macrolides: Interfere with bacterial protein synthesis.
    • Quinolones: Target bacterial DNA replication and repair.
  5. Ans: Resistance Against Antibiotics: Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria adapt and develop mechanisms to withstand the effects of antibiotics. This resistance arises due to genetic mutations or through the acquisition of resistance genes from other bacteria. Factors contributing to antibiotic resistance include overuse or misuse of antibiotics, inadequate dosage, and improper completion of antibiotic courses. This phenomenon poses a significant global health threat, making previously treatable infections more challenging to cure.
  6. Ans: Mode of Action of Vaccines: Vaccines function by stimulating the body’s immune system to recognize and remember specific pathogens (such as viruses or bacteria) without causing the disease itself. They typically contain weakened or inactivated forms of the pathogen or fragments of its proteins. Upon vaccination, the immune system generates an immune response, producing antibodies and memory cells specific to that pathogen. If the vaccinated individual encounters the actual pathogen in the future, the immune system can swiftly recognize and eliminate it, preventing or mitigating the disease’s severity.


  1. Define pharmacology and distinguish it from pharmacy.
  2. Differentiate between medicinal drugs and addictive drugs.
  3. Differentiate between analgesic and antibiotic.
  4. What is marijuana? To which category of addictive drugs, it belongs?
  5. Differentiate between narcotics and hallucinogens.
  1. Ans. Pharmacology vs. Pharmacy:
    • Pharmacology: Pharmacology is the scientific study of drugs, encompassing their composition, properties, interactions, and effects on living organisms. It investigates how substances interact with biological systems and the therapeutic applications or potential risks associated with these interactions.
    • Pharmacy: Pharmacy, on the other hand, refers to the profession and practice of preparing and dispensing medications. Pharmacists, who work in pharmacies, play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and effective use of medications. While pharmacology is more focused on the scientific understanding of drugs, pharmacy involves their practical application in healthcare.
  2. Ans. Medicinal Drug vs. Addictive Drug:
    • Medicinal Drug: A medicinal drug is any chemical substance used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of diseases. These drugs aim to restore or maintain health and are prescribed by healthcare professionals based on their therapeutic benefits.
    • Addictive Drug: An addictive drug is a substance that, when regularly used, leads to physical or psychological dependence. These drugs can result in addiction, where the individual experiences cravings and struggles to function without the substance. While some medicinal drugs may have addictive potential, not all of them are inherently addictive.
  3. Ans. Analgesic vs. Antibiotic:
    • Analgesic: Analgesics are drugs that alleviate pain without causing a loss of consciousness. Common examples include acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
    • Antibiotic: Antibiotics are substances that inhibit the growth or destroy bacteria. They are used to treat bacterial infections and have no direct effect on pain relief. Examples include penicillin, amoxicillin, and ciprofloxacin.
  4. Ans. Marijuana and Addictive Drugs:
    • Marijuana: Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a psychoactive plant containing compounds like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). It is commonly used for recreational and medicinal purposes.
    • Addictive Drug Category: Marijuana is often classified as a psychoactive or hallucinogenic drug. While it may not lead to physical dependence in the same way as some other substances, it can be habit-forming, and individuals may develop a psychological dependence on its effects.
  5. Ans. Narcotics vs. Hallucinogens:
    • Narcotics: Narcotics are drugs that induce sleep or dull the senses, and they often have pain-relieving properties. Opioids such as morphine, heroin, and fentanyl fall into this category.
    • Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens are substances that alter perception, mood, and cognitive processes, leading to hallucinations. Examples include LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA (ecstasy). While both narcotics and hallucinogens can have psychoactive effects, their primary mechanisms and outcomes differ.


.Q1. Compile a list of various painkillers, antibiotics, and sedatives being used in Pakistan.

Painkillers (Analgesics):

  1. Paracetamol (Acetaminophen): Widely used for mild to moderate pain relief and reducing fever.
  2. Ibuprofen: An NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) effective for pain relief and reducing inflammation.
  3. Diclofenac: Another NSAID used for managing pain, inflammation, and joint stiffness.
  4. Tramadol: A synthetic opioid used for moderate to severe pain management.
  5. Codeine: Often combined with other medications for pain relief and as a cough suppressant.


  1. Amoxicillin: A common antibiotic used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections.
  2. Ciprofloxacin: Effective against various bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections and respiratory infections.
  3. Azithromycin: Used for treating respiratory infections, skin infections, and certain sexually transmitted diseases.
  4. Clarithromycin: Prescribed for respiratory tract infections and some bacterial skin infections.
  5. Metronidazole: Used to treat certain types of bacterial and parasitic infections.


  1. Benzodiazepines: Includes medications like Diazepam, Alprazolam, and Clonazepam, prescribed for anxiety disorders, insomnia, and as muscle relaxants.
  2. Barbiturates: Examples include Phenobarbital, used in some cases for sedation and epilepsy treatment.
  3. Zolpidem: A sedative-hypnotic medication primarily prescribed for short-term treatment of insomnia.
  4. Diazepam: Also known as Valium, used as an anxiolytic, muscle relaxant, and for alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Lorazepam: A benzodiazepine used for anxiety disorders, insomnia, and as a pre-anesthetic medication.

Q2. Summarize the antisocial effects of the usage of hallucinogens and narcotics.

The usage of hallucinogens and narcotics can lead to various antisocial effects, impacting individuals and society negatively.


  1. Disorientation and Confusion: Hallucinogens can cause altered perceptions, leading to disorientation, confusion, and a distorted sense of reality. This state can impair judgment and decision-making, contributing to antisocial behavior.
  2. Psychological Distress: Hallucinogen use may trigger intense anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks, leading to aggressive or unpredictable behavior.
  3. Risk-Taking Behavior: Individuals under the influence of hallucinogens might engage in risky behaviors due to impaired judgment, leading to accidents, self-harm, or dangerous actions affecting others.
  4. Potential for Flashbacks: Some hallucinogens can induce flashbacks, where individuals re-experience the drug’s effects even after its immediate influence has subsided. These unexpected episodes can disrupt daily life and social interactions.


  1. Dependency and Addiction: Narcotics, especially opioids, have a high potential for dependency and addiction. This can lead to antisocial behavior as individuals prioritize obtaining and using the drug over responsibilities, relationships, or societal norms.
  2. Criminal Activities: Addicted individuals might resort to criminal activities such as theft, fraud, or drug trafficking to support their habit, contributing to antisocial behavior and societal disruption.
  3. Health Risks: Prolonged narcotic use can result in health deterioration, leading to decreased productivity, social withdrawal, and strain on healthcare systems and social support networks.
  4. Impact on Relationships: Narcotic addiction can strain relationships with family, friends, and the community, causing social isolation and breakdown of support structures.

Both hallucinogens and narcotics, through their respective effects on perception, behavior, and addiction, can contribute to antisocial behavior. These substances not only pose risks to individual health but also have broader social implications, impacting relationships, communities, and societal well-being. Seeking proper support and intervention for individuals affected by the misuse of these substances is crucial to mitigate their antisocial effects and promote recovery.

Q3 Justify the effects of possible over-dosage, under-dosage, and drug interactions when using
antibiotics without a doctor’s consultation.

Using antibiotics without a doctor’s consultation can have serious consequences due to the potential for over-dosage, under-dosage, and drug interactions. Here’s a justification of the effects associated with these scenarios:

  1. Over-Dosage:
    • Rationale: Taking more than the prescribed amount of antibiotics can lead to an excessive concentration of the drug in the body.
    • Effects:
      • Antibiotic Resistance: Overuse contributes to antibiotic resistance, where bacteria adapt and become less responsive to the drug’s effects, reducing its efficacy.
      • Adverse Reactions: Increased dosage can cause adverse reactions such as gastrointestinal issues, allergic reactions, and toxicity.
      • Disruption of Microbiota: Over-dosage can disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in the body, leading to issues like antibiotic-associated diarrhea and increased susceptibility to infections.
  2. Under-Dosage:
    • Rationale: Taking less than the recommended dose allows bacteria to survive and potentially develop resistance to the antibiotic.
    • Effects:
      • Incomplete Treatment: Inadequate doses may not fully eliminate the infection, leading to persistent or recurrent illnesses.
      • Increased Resistance Risk: Incomplete treatment encourages the survival of partially resistant bacteria, contributing to the development of more robust antibiotic-resistant strains.
      • Chronic Infections: Under-dosage can result in chronic infections that are challenging to treat, requiring stronger antibiotics in the future.
  3. Drug Interactions:
    • Rationale: Combining antibiotics with other medications without professional guidance can result in drug interactions, affecting the effectiveness and safety of both drugs.
    • Effects:
      • Reduced Efficacy: Certain drug combinations may reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics or other medications, leading to suboptimal treatment outcomes.
      • Increased Toxicity: Interactions can amplify the toxicity of drugs, causing adverse effects or severe complications.
      • Altered Absorption: Some interactions can impact the absorption of antibiotics, reducing their bioavailability and therapeutic effects.

In summary, using antibiotics without proper medical supervision can lead to over-dosage, under-dosage, and drug interactions, all of which pose risks to both individual health and public health. These consequences include antibiotic resistance, incomplete treatment, increased susceptibility to infections, adverse reactions, and compromised therapeutic outcomes. Seeking professional medical advice ensures accurate dosing, appropriate treatment duration, and consideration of potential drug interactions, optimizing the efficacy and safety of antibiotic therapy.


Pharmacology: a study tracing back to the Middle Ages, where early investigations centered on natural compounds, specifically plant extracts. By the 19th century, it burgeoned into a biomedical science, exploring drugs’ composition, effects on organisms, and their utility.

At its core, drugs bring alterations in bodily functions upon absorption. They segregate into pharmaceuticals for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, and addictive substances fostering reliance and dependency.

Understanding pharmacology entails grasping pharmaceutical functions and risks linked to addictive drugs. This knowledge unveils their intricate interactions within the body, exposing their wide-ranging societal impacts.

Previously “Materia Medica,” drug accessibility involves physician-prescribed compounds like barbiturates and antibiotics. Non-prescription drugs, including aspirin and cough remedies, pose varying safety profiles and risks, emphasizing their nuanced effects on human health.


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1 comment

comments user
Noman Khan

So very good