Drugs Advice and Information
People take drugs for different reasons. It could be prescription drugs, illegal street drugs or those that fall through the gaps which are neither prescribed nor illegal – such as new psychoactive substances (NPS).
Some want to experiment and are curious about what drugs are like. Some use drugs recreationally, usually on a weekend, whilst others use drugs to self-medicate or escape social or personal issues.
For some people drugs are a short-lived experience making them feel happier, more energetic, relaxed, empathetic or of altered perception. These short-lived experiences might lead people to continue taking drugs – or they might not.
However, some drugs can cause a whole range of immediate or long term health problems both physical and psychological, ranging from feeling anxious, paranoid or sedated or even leave you unconscious and at risk of death from an overdose.
Longer-term dependency is a risk with some drugs. Regular use of certain substances can also lead to a host of long-term health problems that affect different parts of the body.
Becoming dependent means that you might feel like you can’t operate without drugs in your system or that you spend a lot of time and energy finding and using drugs. You might experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using. If you use drugs often, your tolerance might increase, causing you to need more to get the same effect or to feel ‘normal’.
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What is a drug?
A drug is a substance that affects the brain, body, behaviour and judgement. A drug can be swallowed, drunk, inhaled, injected or smoked. There are different types of drugs such as illegal, legal and prescribed.
What are the effects?
There are four main categories that drugs fit into:
- Stimulant (sometimes called “uppers”): temporarily increase alertness and energy
a. These include cocaine, shisha, NPS
- Depressant (sometimes called “downers”): temporarily slow the brain and body down
a. These include alcohol, NPS, heroin
- Hallucinogenic: alter perception, people may see or hear things that are not there
a. These include LSD, ecstasy, NPS
- Analgesic: can relieve pain
a. These include opiates, pain relief medication
Cannabis can fit into a few of these categories.
What are the risks?
Short and long term effects on physical and mental health include hangovers, paranoia, depression, anxiety, strange thoughts, mood swings, unprotected sex, lack of erection, memory loss, cancers, damage to unborn babies, overdose, and death.
Other risks associated with drug use are offending behaviour, criminal record, loss of family and friends and loss of education or employment.
Drug use can impact on the type of people you associate with. Sometimes people are not what they seem and may want to take advantage of you. They may try to exploit you. This may involve getting you to do things you don’t want to do.
What is the law?
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, illegal drugs are placed into one of three classes: A, B or C.
- Class A drugs include heroin, cocaine (including crack), ecstasy (MDMA) and LSD
- Class B drugs include amphetamines, codeine, cannabis, and synthetic cannabinoids
- Class C drugs include tranquilizers, GHB/GBL, ketamine and steroids
What can I do to keep safe?
Most drug use is illegal. Any criminal offences associated with drugs will impact on your future. Just because some drugs are legal doesn’t mean they are safe.
Remember: do not delay in asking for help if you are concerned about yourself or someone else. Talk to someone you trust. Know your own mind. Stay true to yourself. You can say no!
Know what to do in an emergency:
- Keep calm
- Call 999 for an ambulance
- Put the person in the recovery position
- Don’t leave the person on their own. Stay with them.