Drug Addiction

What are Drugs?

Drugs are substances which cause changes in the body’s functions, either psychologically and/or physically when consumed. Legal drugs include tobacco, caffeine and alcohol, while illegal ones include heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. Prescription drugs including opiates, sleeping pills and benzodiazepines whilst legal, can stir a battleground for addiction when abused.

The drugs abused by people for a variety of reasons are typically psychoactive drugs, which means they alter one’s behaviour, thought process and mood, due to their effects on the central nervous system. These drugs are often classified as hallucinogens, stimulants, or depressants. Legal highs (which are no longer legal) also fall into one of these categories.

Illegal drugs (including former legal highs) are dangerous and unpredictable because their effects will differ from one individual to the next.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines are a synthetic medication of the stimulant type, which excite the central nervous system, resulting in feelings of confidence, focus, higher energy and even euphoria. At first, amphetamines were used to treat nasal congestion but started being used for narcolepsy, hyperactivity in young people, weight loss, alcohol hangovers and, occasionally, depression.

Prescription stimulants include Dexedrine and Adderall, while illegal drugs of this class include ecstasy and methamphetamine. Both legal and illegal amphetamines are highly disruptive and addictive when used recreationally.

Many students use these drugs because they believe the resulting high focus and energy will enable them to do better in school, but the opposite is true.

Cannabis

Used by ancient cultures as far back as the third millennium BC, cannabis has been used for a variety of reasons. Today, it’s often used for medicinal, spiritual, religious and recreational purposes and is the most commonly used illegal drug on the planet.

The effects of this drug are hallucinogenic, depressant and stimulant in nature. It’s often smoked in a variety of ways, but can also be

consumed orally in its fresh form or consumed in cooked or baked foods, and sometimes as a tea. Some of its most adverse effects include psychosis, weight gain, insatiable hunger, paranoia, fluctuations in body temperature, auditory and visual hallucinations and acute anxiety.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a drug extracted from coca leaves, which has been converted into a crystal or powder form. Originally, it was intended for use as a painkiller, but it is extremely addictive and is one of the most dangerous drugs we know of.

The drug causes euphoria and tolerance develops so quickly that the user would have to use it more frequently and in higher doses to experience the same high. Some of the deadly effects of cocaine include heart attack, bleeding in the brain, stroke and respiratory failure.

Some of the street names for the drug include Coke, Charlie, Blow, Binge, Mojo, Dust and Nose Candy, among others.

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Crack Cocaine

The rock or crystal form of cocaine is referred to as crack cocaine or simply crack. The colour of the crystals can vary from white or pale rose to yellow. It gets its name from the popping or cracking sound it makes when heated before it is smoked.

Crack is the riskiest form of cocaine and the most potent because it’s 75% to 100% pure. Due to the smoking method of taking crack, which is the most common, it’s possible to get addicted even after first use.

While cocaine is expensive, crack is cheap enough for even teens to afford. It has numerous street names, including Crumbs, Cookies, Candy, Base, Apple Jacks, Ice Cube and Glo, among others.

Crystal Meth

Crystal meth is only one form in which the drug methamphetamine appears. Methamphetamine is a white crystalline substance that is taken by injection, smoking, snorting or even orally.

While crystal meth is most often taken as a ‘club drug’, it is used by people of all ages. This potent and highly dangerous drug acts as a stimulant at first but will eventually start to destroy the body systematically.

This highly addictive substance has been associated with serious health conditions such as psychosis, aggression, memory loss and potential brain and heart damage.

DMT

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance found in trace quantities in animals and plants. It is the most potent psychedelic drug but is only active when mixed with another chemical that inhibits its metabolism.

The drug results in powerful hallucinations and has been used for thousands of years. It is derived from specific plants found in South America, Mexico and parts of Asia. It is often taken orally in brews and smoked or vaporised in a pipe. Rarely, it’s injected.

Some DMT street names include Forty-Five-Minute Psychosis, Fantasia, Businessman’s Special, Businessman’s Trip and Dimitri.

Ecstasy

Commonly known as ecstasy, 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic substance that alters perception and mood. Chemically, it shares similarities with hallucinogens and stimulants.

When taken, ecstasy produces feelings of distorted time and sensory perception, emotional warmth, pleasure and increased energy. Initially, the drug was popularly used in raves and night clubs, but it has now become more mainstream.

Also called Molly, the drug can increase blood pressure and heart rate and cause health problems such as muscle cramping, nausea, memory problems, depression and irritability, and more.

GHB

Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, has a number of street names, including Blue Nitro, Cherry Meth, Liquid G, Goop, G-riffic, Fantasy and even Liquid Ecstasy, even though it’s very different to MDMA.

GHB is a naturally occurring CNS depressant that is synthesised in the form of a soapy or salty tasting liquid or a white powder that can be converted to capsules or tablets.

When used in low doses, the drug can produce aphrodisia, enhanced empathy and euphoria but when the doses are bumped up, it can lead to respiratory failure, unconsciousness and even death. It’s easy to overdose on GHB because the liquid form in which it often comes can make it hard to judge its potency.

Ketamine

This drug is a dissociative anaesthetic typically used on animals. It may be used in liquid or powdered form and can be added to cigarettes or joints, snorted, consumed in drinks, or injected. Ketamine has been used for date rape due to the dreamlike, detached state it induces.

Some of the effects of the drug, both short term and long term, include cravings, potentially fatal respiratory issues, hallucinations, amnesia, depression, numbness, vomiting, nausea and increased blood pressure and heart rate.

When taken in high doses, one can experience a near death or out of body experience. Street names for the drug include Green, Super Acid, Jet, Cat Valium and Special K.

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens refer to drugs that are capable of altering one’s perception and thinking processes in such a way that reality becomes significantly distorted. The effects these drugs have on the user’s perception are quite different from what is experienced with many other drugs.

Some of the effects of these drugs include dissociative experiences, an altered sense of time, hallucinations and synaesthesia. There are hundreds of compounds which are regarded as hallucinogens and they typically have a high potential for psychological or physical dependence.

Examples of hallucinogens include PCP or phencyclidine, ketamine, DMT, peyote, magic mushrooms and LSD.

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Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is produced from the resin of poppy plants. It causes severe withdrawal symptoms and is often injected, making it even riskier, since that form of consumption can lead to other serious problems such as AIDS and other blood borne conditions.

When it was first produced in 1898, it entered the market as a remedy for morphine addiction and a treatment for tuberculosis. However, heroin was eventually found to be more addictive than morphine.

The effects of heroin use, both short term and long term, include lethargy, sedation, reduced sensation of pain, slowed heart rate and respiration, confusion, reduced sexual function, sleeping problems and severe constipation, among others.

ICE

Ice is a highly potent form of the drug meth. It can be smoked like cocaine, resulting in increased alertness and an intense and immediate high. Its name comes from its appearance, as it resembles a chip of ice or rock candy.

Unlike the 15-minute high from crack, the high resulting from ice use can last as long as 8 to 24 hours. The cravings for this drug are known to be intense, and it can cause high levels of aggression and confidence if used by someone who’s planning a crime.

Some of the effects of the drug include dental problems, sores on the body, heart palpitations, weight loss, brain damage and fatal lung and kidney disorders, among others.

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Inhalants

Inhalants are substances that are typically taken exclusively by inhaling. Such drugs include nitrates, gases, aerosol sprays and solvents. They are often easily found in the workplace or at home, including cleaning fluids, glues, markers and spray paints.

When inhaled, the dangerous substances they contain cause psychoactive effects. They are not typically regarded as drugs since they are not produced with the intention of causing a high, but many people use them for that purpose, especially teenagers and children.

Products used as inhalants include deodorant or hair sprays, glue, correction fluids, gasoline, and dry-cleaning fluids.

LSD

LSD is a highly potent mood-altering chemical produced from lysergic acid, which is collected from the ergot fungus which grows on grains. It is distributed as a slightly bitter, colourless and odourless liquid.

Users typically purchase the drug in the form of gelatine squares, capsules or small tablets and occasionally in liquid form. It may also be added to small squares of absorbent paper typically sporting cartoon characters or other designs.

The drug causes a serious disconnection from reality, called a “trip.” These trips can last as long as 12 hours.

Mephedrone

Mephedrone is a synthetic, psychoactive stimulant that enhances physical and/or mental function temporarily. While it’s also called 4-methylephedrone or 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC), it is entirely different from methadone.

The drug has no medical justification for its psychoactive effects, but it’s used as a recreational drug. It may trigger health problems such as damage to the nasal passages, heart palpitations, headaches and paranoia.

Some of the street names for the drugs include M-smack, White Magic, Drone, Miaow, Bubbles, MCAT and Meph. While it produces similar effects and issues as MDMA, it is potentially more dangerous.

Meth

Methamphetamine, or meth, is a white crystalline substance that is taken by injection, smoking, snorting or even orally. Regardless of how it’s taken, it causes a strong desire to continue use due to the false sense of wellbeing and happiness that it produces.

In addition to the rush of energy, hyperactivity and confidence produced by the drug, it also results in reduced appetite. Some of the street names for this drug include Speed, Chalk, Crank and Meth. Its effects are known to last between 6 and 8 hours, but can last as long as 24 hours.

Some of the effects of meth include increased body temperature and blood pressure, irregular or rapid heartbeat, faster breathing, decreased appetite and increased wakefulness.

PCP

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a dissociative anaesthetic which was discontinued for use as an intravenous anaesthetic when it was found to produce psychotic reactions. It causes one to experience distortions of reality, rather than visual hallucinations.

It is typically found in pill, powder or liquid form and is known by many street names, such as Kools, Lethal Weapon, Trank, Happy Sticks, Cliffhanger, Wack, Ozone, Supergrass, Peace Pill, Rocket Fuel, and so on.

At high doses, PCP can cause stroke, fever, coma, respiratory failure, seizures and even death. When used on a long-term basis, it can cause weight loss, difficulty thinking or speaking, depression and memory loss.

Other Illegal Drugs

Other illegal drugs not mentioned here include; flunitrazepam, which causes impaired coordination, dizziness, confusion and sedation; salvia divinorum, which causes impaired motor function; dextromethorphan (DXM), which causes distorted visual perceptions, confusion, slurred speech and euphoria; mescaline, which causes hallucinations and impulsive behaviour; psilocybin, which causes paranoia and panic; and anabolic steroids, which can cause liver cysts and blood clotting, among other health problems.

If you believe that you or a loved one are dependent on any of these drugs, we recommend that you seek treatment as soon as possible.

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