Illicit drugs are either illegal drugs or medications with a high potential for abuse diverted for purposes other than treating medical conditions. According to the New Jersey State Police, some illicit drugs derive from natural sources. Others are synthetic, the creation of human beings in laboratories.
Both natural and synthetic drugs can be dangerous.
Naturally occurring illicit drugs
Heroin is a narcotic drug that dulls the senses. It is one of the most dangerous drugs because it is both strongly potent and highly addictive. An overdose can slow bodily functions down so much that they stop, causing death. Heroin comes from the opium poppy. There are synthetic opioids that have accepted medical uses, but heroin has none.
Cocaine is also a dangerous drug that derives from a plant, in this case, the Erythroxylum coca plant. Cocaine is a stimulant drug, meaning that instead of slowing down body functions, it causes them to speed up. This can also result in a fatal overdose if taken in sufficient quantities. Chronic cocaine use can also cause other problems, such as nasal cavity erosion from snorting it.
Synthetically created illicit drugs
People create synthetic drugs in laboratories, sometimes legitimately to use as medication and sometimes for illicit purposes in clandestine laboratories. In either case, their effects can be similar to those of naturally occurring substances. For example, methamphetamine is a synthetically created stimulant, meaning that its effect is similar to that of cocaine.
Synthetic drugs are sometimes much more potent than those that occur naturally. For example, fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic that is many times stronger than heroin or morphine.
As a result, fentanyl is effective at treating severe pain, but it also makes a fatal overdose more likely.