Caring, Mentoring, Support, Kinship Care, Talk, Confidential, Mediation, Group Support Recovery, Criminal Justice Work, Peer Support, Therapy, Information

Drugs & Alcohol Information

ALCOHOL

Depressant. Legal and socially acceptable

Effects

  • Relaxed and less inhibited
  • Slurred speech
  • Affects co-ordination

Risks

  • Overdose can lead to loss of consciousness, risk of choking on own vomit.
  • Alcoholic poisoning can be fatal.
  • Heart and liver problems
  • May affect a persons sexual behaviour - not thinking straight less inhibited
  • Risk of accidents
  • Arguments or fights

AMPHETAMINES

Stimulant class B drug unless prepared  for injecting when class A drug

Appearance

  • Made in illegal laboratories white - greyish powder
  • Never know what amphetamine is cut with, could be substances such as glucose caffeine, milk powder. Very impure drug
  • Invented in Germany in 1930’s used to make soldiers fight longer and better.  Used in 1950’s & 60’s to help people lose weight.

Use

  • Sniffed
  • Swallowed in tablet form
  • Injected

Effects

  • Energetic,confident alert.  Feel wide awake and raring to go  (for some people and ideal clubbing drug as keeps you awake and lasts longer than other stimulant drugs)
  • Comedown can leave user feeling anxious depressed and tired.  This can last for several days
    Suppresses appetitie

Risks

  • Negative effects - mood swings, edgy and unable to sleep.
  • Short term memory is affected
  • Amphetamine psychosis - users feels they are being watched, that everone is talking about them.  May hear voices talking to them
  • Risks if used with alcohol  - can stay awake much longer so may drink more.  Drink induces confidence and energy levels may encourage user to act out drunken impulses
  • Amphetamine sulphate forces body to provide energy so body is continually tapping into its next days energy reserves - hence saying ‘suicide Tuesday’. 
  • Tolerance can develop,
  • Long term use can put strain on heart

CANNABIS

Class B drug Sedating and hallucinogenic, depending on user.

Generic name for various preparations and forms plant appears in.

Appearance

  • As leaves and seeds and other parts of the plant - ‘grass’ or ‘weed’.
  • Resin - exuded from the leaves and flowers of the plan, appears in solid blocks, often dark brown. 
  • Cannabis oil - dark brown sticky liquid.

Use

  • Rolled into joint with or without tobacco.
  • Pipe
  • Bong

Effects

  • Increased sociability to use as often smoked in groups.
  • User feels stoned, relaxed, mellow, chilled out. 
  • Talkative, babbling not making much sense. 
  • If user feels ok at time of use may continue to feel ok if feels pretty crap using will accentuate these feelings. 
  • Sudden ravenous appetite
  • Negative effects involve nausea vomiting (particularly if taken with alcohol). 
  • Paranoia - user may feel people are saying things about them or feel that complete strangers are being hostile towards them.

Risks

  • Affects co-ordination so dangerous to drive or operate machinery.  If driving whilst under the influence will also be breaking the law.
  • Affects short term memory
  • Respiratory disorders including lung cancer

COCAINE/CRACK

Stimulant class A drug

Appearance

  • Cocaine - pure white crystalline powder
  • Crack - Waxy looking small rocks
  • From Coca plant grown in south America

Use

  • Cocaine - snorted through rolled up bank note or tube.  Injected
  • Crack - smoked in pipe or bong

Effects

  • Cocaine - effects can last for approx 30 minutes
  • Crack effects last for as little as 10 minutes
  • Powerful stimulant.  When first hits you will feel initial rush of excitement and exhilaration. 
  • After few minutes when levels out will feel strong powerful, confident alert mentally physically and sexually.
  • ‘Seesaw’ effect as when drug wears off can feel exactly opposite
  • Agitated, depressed, tired paranoid and weak.
  • Reduces need for sleep and food so maybe physical neglect and health can suffer

Crack which is the smokeable form of cocaine produces far more intense effects .

Risks

  • Crack creates huge cravings use difficult to control
  • Body temperature rises may result in convulsions or seizures
  • Heartbeat increases - if this gets to a  dangerous level could result in heart attack.
  • Raises chemical levels in brain which governs mood.  Once effects wear off user can get bad feeling, paranoia and agression.
  • Agitated and fidgety where only thing on mind is taking more
  • Snorting cocaine can damage membranes in nose, rot tissue and may end up with one large nostril

ECSTASY

Class A Drug

Appearance

  • MDMA - pure ecstasy, white powder, becoming more common
  • Usually E’s are tablet form, all colours, logos or pictures on

Use

  • Taken orally
  • Smoke or snort powder

Effects

  • An E gives people an energy buzz that makes them feel alert and alive.
  • Ecstasy makes people feel in tune with their surroundings - sounds and colours are more intense.
  • Users often feel great love for the people they're with and the strangers around them. On its own, it’s not a drug that makes people violent.
  • Lots of people feel chatty on E. (These chats don't always make sense to people who aren't on an E).

Risks

  • Physical side effects can develop that include: dilated pupils, a tingling feeling, tightening of the jaw muscles, raised body temperature and the heart beats faster.
  • Short-term effects of use can include anxiety, panic attacks, confused episodes and paranoid or psychotic states.
  • There’s no way of telling what’s in an E until you've swallowed it. So, there may be negative side effects from other ingredients in the tablet.
  • E’s can make users feel a bit down after use.
  • There’ve been over 200 ecstasy-related deaths in the UK since 1996. Ecstasy use is the cause of death in many of the cases but there have been some involving other substances sold as Ecstasy.
  • Ecstasy affects the body's temperature control. Dancing for long periods in a hot atmosphere increases the chances of overheating and dehydration. Take regular breaks from the dance floor to cool down.
  • And watch out for your mates - sometimes they mightn’t realise they're in danger of overheating or getting dehydrated.
  • Be careful with fluids though, as drinking too much can also be dangerous or even fatal. Ecstasy can cause the body to release a hormone which prevents the production of urine. Drink too quickly and it interferes with your body's salt balance, which can be as deadly as not drinking enough water. Reduce the risks by sipping no more than a pint of water or non-alcoholic fluid every hour.
  • Using Ecstasy has been linked to liver, kidney and heart problems. Anyone using too much can become paranoid and depressed.
  • Some long-term users report getting colds, flu and sore throats more often. This may be attributed to staying awake for 24 hours, which puts your immune system under pressure.
  • There’s research to suggest that the exhaustion and dehydration associated with Ecstasy can activate urine infections like cystitis in women.
  • Anyone with a heart condition, blood pressure problems, epilepsy or asthma can have a very dangerous reaction to the drug.

HEROIN  (Diamorphine Hydrochloride)

Depressant
Class A drug hugely physically addictive

Appearance

  • White powder when pure. 
  • Street heroin - brownish powder obtained from borders of Iran, Afganistan and Pakistan.

Use

  • Smoked off foil
  • Injected

Effects

  • First time use may result in vomiting and feeling sleepy.
  • Feeling of warmth and wellbeing (like being wrapped in cotton wool)
  • Regular use leaves people feeling detached from world and its worries.
  • Don’t feel emotional or physical pain
  • Itchy skin

Risks

  • Physically addictive - withdrawal makes people physically ill, may feel like worst case of flue or food poisoning ever experienced. Length of time feeling last for may vary 1 week - 1 month.  The hard part is adjusting to life without heroin, finding things to fill time, dealing with own feelings and emotions, painful things may come to surface.
  • Psychologically addictive users life may become dominated by getting next fix.
  • May need to take more and more just to feel normal
  • Risks associated with injecting, blood borne diseases, vein damage.

SOLVENTS

Depressant (some hallucinogenic properties)

Butane gas, lighter fluid, aerosol cans such as deodorant correction fluid, glues.

Use

  • Sniffed on a clothed
  • Inhaling through plastic bag may cause suffocation
  • Spraying directly into throat - freeze throat and stop breathing

Effects

  • Giggly, dizzy, light headed feel drunk.  Effects last 15 - 45 minutes
  • Can end up feeling drowsy and being left with a headache

Risks

  • Vomiting, choking, blackouts may choke of own vomit.  Risk of accidents expecially if use in dangerous places - side of railway lines, edge of canals. 
  • Risk of fatal heart problems
  • First time use can be fatal - spraying aerosols directly into back of throat can freeze throat and stop breathing

LEGAL HIGHS

  • ‘Legal Highs’ are substances which produce the same, or similar effects, to drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, but are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act. They are however, considered illegal under current medicines legislation to sell, supply or advertise for “human consumption”. To get round this sellers refer to them as research chemicals, plant food, bath crystals or pond cleaner.
  • In many cases, ‘legal highs’ have been designed to mimic class A drugs, but are structurally different enough to avoid being classified as illegal substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
  • An example of this is mephedrone. The substance was created in a lab to mimic the effects of cocaine or ecstasy, but it had a slightly different chemical structure to both of these drugs so that it would not fall under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Subsequently the government passed legislation so that mephedrone became a controlled substance meaning it’s now illegal to possess, give away or sell.
  • There are a large number of ’legal highs' and they can have all kinds of names, including brand names and chemical names, for example: Dimethocaine, Benzo Fury, 5IAI, MDAT, Silver Bullet, Ivory Wave, Eric 3 and Diablo.

Why is there concern about ‘legal highs’?

For many ‘legal highs’ there has been very little or no useful research into their short, medium and long term effects on people. While this means we can’t always provide specific advice, there are certain key facts common to all ‘legal highs’:
  • Just because a drug is legal to possess, it doesn’t mean it’s safe.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear that ‘legal highs’ are far from harmless and can have similar health risks to drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and speed.
  • Risks of ‘legal highs’ can include reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, coma, seizures, and death.
    These risks are increased if used with alcohol or other drugs.
  • It is likely that drugs sold as a ‘legal high’ may actually contain one or more substances that are actually illegal to posses.
  • What you may think is a legal high that you can’t get in trouble for having, could be something completely different, and in fact a class B drug.

‘Legal Highs’ and the law

Under current guidance, teachers can confiscate, and dispose of, any ‘legal highs’ that they find on school property, in line with the school’s policy. From 1 September 2010, school staff also have the power to search any students suspected of carrying banned drugs. This power allows school staff to search for substances they reasonably believe are illegal but which may, after testing, be found to be legal.

The Future of 'legal highs'

The Government have announced that they will introduce a new system of one-year temporary bans on new ‘legal highs’ while the health issues can be considered by an independent group of experts, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). This new system is likely to be introduced in autumn 2011.