There is a common adage in the world of education that says knowledge is power. We would not disagree, especially in the area of drugs and alcohol. The more you know about addictive substances, the more prepared you are to make wise decisions about them. As an employer, you need as much information as possible in order to establish effective workplace policies regarding drug and alcohol use.

As a source of general information, we have put together a list of important terms relating to drug and alcohol use you need to know. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Please contact us if you or your employee is hooked on a drug not listed for help and advice.

Here is our A-Z list:


Alcohol is by far the most misused drug in the world. Unfortunately, many people do not view it as a drug comparable to things such as cannabis and heroin. Yet alcohol is highly addictive and physically destructive. According to the NHS, as many as 6.5% of UK adults exhibit symptoms of alcohol dependence.

Alcoholism is a medical condition characterised by a dependence on alcohol. Dependence develops as a result of tolerance, a condition requiring greater amounts of alcohol in order to achieve the same pleasurable effects. Alcoholism cannot be overcome without proper treatment.


Amphetamines are very popular drugs among young people, especially for partying and clubbing. Amphetamines increase energy levels as well as suppress appetite. Some common forms of amphetamines include billy, speed, phet, and whiz.


Unfortunately, cannabis is largely regarded as a harmless recreational drug in modern society. However, it is anything but harmless. Cannabis has a measurable impact on cognition, mood, and learning ability. Studies have shown that younger cannabis users are more prone to severe psychosis later in life. Different forms of cannabis exist with names such as skunk and purple haze.


One of the biggest drug scourges in modern history is cocaine. Whether in a straight powder form or sold as crack rocks, cocaine is a highly powerful stimulant that creates dependence rather easily. It is a class A drug that could result in a seven-year sentence for possession and use, or a lifetime sentence for manufacturing and distribution.


Codeine is an opiate used clinically for the treatment of chronic pain. It is one of the more commonly abused prescription medications in Europe. When combined with other painkillers, excess codeine use can lead to severe medical conditions and even death.

Crystal Meth

Crystal meth is a methamphetamine also known on the street as meth, ice, Christine, crank, and yaba. As with other amphetamines, crystal meth tends to be a popular party drug among young people.


Ecstasy is sometimes referred to as the ‘original designer drug’ because it was among the first synthetically manufactured drugs made available. Its ability to increase energy levels and sensory perception makes it a popular party drug. Ecstasy is a class A drug.

Glues, Gases, Aerosols

We typically do not think about glues, gases, and aerosols in terms of drug addiction. However, these types of products (also known as inhalants) are used indiscriminately by some types of addicts. Any workplace in which these types of substances are part of the daily routine is at risk of seeing employees develop problems.


Heroin is easily one of the drugs with the most name recognition around the world. It is a derivative of morphine made from the opium poppy. It is also known on the street as smack, junk, and skag.


Ketamine is a general anaesthetic normally used with animals. In humans, its effects include a distortion of reality and euphoria. It can lead to temporary muscle paralysis in some people. Unsafe dosages can also lead to hallucinations, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

Legal Highs

Legal highs are a class of synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of illicit drugs while still being chemically different. This allows them to be sold legally as either plant food or bath salts. The medical community has a very difficult time keeping up with legal highs because these are being introduced so quickly.


LSD is not as popular today as it was in the 1960s and 70s. Nonetheless, it is a dangerous psychoactive drug that results in heightened self-awareness and vivid hallucinations.


Mephedrone is among the new designer drugs young people are using regularly. Known on the street as meow meow, this drug is a stimulant with effects that are similar to amphetamines. The main problem with this drug is that no one really knows what the long-term effects of taking it are.


Morphine is another opiate that is commonly used as a prescription medication for pain management. It is a highly addictive substance that is easy to get on the street. Anyone who takes morphine as a prescription medication is at risk of developing an addiction when doctors’ orders are not followed.

New Psychoactive Substances

‘New psychoactive substances’ is the clinical term used to describe legal highs.

Synthetic Cannabinoids

This is a class of manufactured drugs designed to replicate the effects of the active ingredient in cannabis: THC. These drugs are inherently unsafe for the mere fact that no one really knows what is in them. They are legally sold as plant food or bath salts.


Tranquillisers are a class of drugs used clinically to treat insomnia and anxiety. As with morphine and codeine, these are highly addictive when used outside of a doctor’s direct supervision. They are sold on the street as recreational drugs for their calming and soothing effects.

All employers must be aware of the dangers various drugs pose to their business. This is why we have created this guide – so you can easily browse and find whatever you may need. If you think one of your employees needs help – seek support now. We can help you.