Street names - Speed whizz, Sulph, Base, Billy, Dexies.

Speed is usually sold in wraps and the powder is off white or pinkish in colour.

Effects

Like Cocaine, Amphetamine is a stimulant which makes people feel wide awake, excited and talkative.  It gives them much more energy and they can keep going for hours without getting tired.

The effects tend to start after about 30 minutes and can last for up to six hours.

Risks

The come down can make it difficult to relax or sleep and also makes users feel irritable and depressed, which can last for one to two days.

Speed also puts a strain on the heart and it’s not advisable for people with high blood pressure or heart conditions.  Heavy use of Speed can also lead to anxiety, depression and aggression as well as mental illness such as psychosis and paranoid feelings. 

Street names - Chang Coke, Charlie, C, White, Snow, Toot.

Effects

If you take Cocaine by snorting the powder, it means it is absorbed more slowly, which makes it stronger than an amphetamine.  It makes the user feel really good, wide awake and confident, but it normally only lasts for about 20 - 30 minutes.

Street names - Rocks, Wash, Stones, Pebbles, Base, Free base

Effects

Crack Cocaine has the same effect as Cocaine but is stronger and is virtually immediate, peaking for about 2 minutes and lasting for about ten minutes.  Due to this there is a strong temptation to take more.

Risks

Cocaine and Crack Cocaine raises the body’s temperature and can make the heart beat faster.  It can also cause convulsions and respiratory or heart failure, which makes it very risky for people with high blood pressure or heart problems.  It is also known to make people feel depressed and run down.

Using Cocaine or Crack Cocaine regularly can cause serious problems with anxiety and paranoia and it is also know to cause panic attacks.

Using Cocaine or Crack Cocaine regularly can cause serious problems with anxiety and paranoia and it is also know to cause panic attacks.

Street names - Hash Solid Blow, Dope, Draw, Pot, Puff, Resin, Wacky-backy.

Types of Cannabis

The commonest form is resin which comes in brown or black blocks and is usually smoked rolled into a cigarette or joint, often with tobacco.

Effects

The effects of Cannabis vary dramatically, some of the more common effects include elation, profound relaxation, alteration of time and perception, transient hallucinations, uncontrollable laughing, increased sociability and talkativeness, nervousness, anxiety and mild paranoia, or the 'munchies' (a strong desire to eat and continue eating).

Street names - Stink, Green, Grade, Bush, Grass, Hash, Hashish, Herb, Northern Lights, Weed.

Herbal Cannabis is made from the chopped, dried leaves of the plant and is also known as ‘grass’ or 'bush'.  Herbal Cannabis is usually not as strong as the resin form, however ‘Skunk’ is a particularly strong form.  The herbal form is sometimes made into a cigarette without using tobacco and can also be smoked in a pipe, brewed into a tea or cooked into cakes.

Recently, stronger types of Skunk have become available with names like Northern Lights and Super Skunk.  The effects of these strains are more pronounced and can cause hallucinogenic effects.  THC is regarded as the main active ingredient in Cannabis and Skunk.

Effects

Due to the strength of some of these varieties, many report the onset of effects as being quicker than normal Cannabis.  The main effects are the same as any Cannabis although clearly they may be magnified depending on the amount consumed and the individual in question.

Risks 

Skunk's strength and speed can sometimes catch inexperienced users out and many report that the 'stoned' effect can come on rapidly and be disabling.  The results can be quite dramatic including anxiety attacks and projectile vomiting.  Some of the more common effects are highlighted above in the Cannabis section.

Street names - Brownies, Dolphins, Doves, E, Fantasy, Love doves, MDMA, MDMA powder sweeties, Tulips, X, XTC.

Ecstasy is an illegally manufactured drug that usually comes in tablet or capsule form.  The appearance of Ecstasy varies considerably ranging from brown, white or pink tablets to yellow, clear, red and black or red and yellow capsules.

Ecstasy is usually taken orally but it can also be snorted.

Effects

Ecstasy is a stimulant drug which also has mild hallucinogenic effects.  The effects of taking a moderate dose start after 20 - 60 minutes (longer if taken on a full stomach) and can last for up to several hours.

The pupils become dilated, the jaw tightens and there is often brief nausea, sweating, with a dry mouth and throat.  The blood pressure and heart rate increases and loss of appetite is common.  Many users experience an initial rushing feeling followed by a combination of feeling energetic yet calm.  Loss of anger, empathy with other people and an enhanced sense of communication are commonly reported.  Some users also report a heightened sense of their surroundings, greater appreciation of music and increased sexual and sensual experience.

Risks

People often have bad experiences with Ecstasy including feeling anxious and panicky, confusion and unpleasant distortion of the senses, which can last for days or even weeks.  This is more likely if users take high doses or are already feeling anxious or unstable.

After taking ecstasy users may feel very tired and low and often need a long period of sleep to recover, which can last up to three or four days.

Street name - Brown, China white, Gear, H, Horse, Junk, Skag, Smack.

Heroin (medical name Diamorphine) is one of a group of drugs called 'Opiates' which are derived from the Opium Poppy.  Today street Heroin usually comes as an off white or brown powder and can be smoked, snorted or prepared for injection.

Effects

Heroin and other Opiates are sedative drugs that depress the nervous system.  They slow down body functioning and are able to combat both physical and emotional pain.  The effect is usually to give a feeling of warmth, relaxation and detachment with a lessening of anxiety.  The effects start quickly and can last several hours but this varies with how and how much is taken.

Risks 

Excessive doses can produce stupor and coma and even death from respiratory failure and with regular use a tolerance develops so that more is needed to get the same effect.  Physical dependence can also result from regular use and withdrawal after regular use can produce unpleasant flu like symptoms and may include aches, tremors, sweating and chills and muscular spasms.  These tend to fade after 7 - 10 days, but feelings of weakness and illness may last longer.

Street names - Crystal meth, Zip, Go-fast, Cristy, Christal, Tina, Chalk, Crank, Glass, Crazy medicine, L.A. 'Ice'.

Methamphetamine takes the form of a white odourless and bitter tasting crystalline powder.  It is readily soluble in water or alcohol but it can also be produced in tablet or powder form.  It can be smoked, injected, snorted or consumed orally.

Effects

Its euphoric effects are similar to but more intense and longer lasting than those of Cocaine.  The drug alters moods in different ways, depending on how it is taken.  Immediately after smoking or injecting the user experiences an intense rush similar to that produced by Crack Cocaine but longer lasting, even small amounts of Methamphetamine can produce euphoria, arousal, wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite and increased respiration.

Risks

These can include nausea, panic attacks, compulsive repetitive behaviour and jaw clenching and regular use can lead to dependency with increased tolerance to the effects and physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.  The withdrawal symptoms can include depression, anxiety and craving for the drug.  The effects can last between 4 - 12 hours, depending on the route of administration and can cause psychiatric problems with symptoms resembling those associated with paranoid schizophrenia, such as paranoia and hallucinations.

Street names - Acid, Blotter, Cheer, Dots, Drop, Flash, Hawk, L, Lightning flash, Liquid acid.

LSD is an hallucinogenic drug which is normally a white powder, but as a street drug it can be a liquid either on its own or absorbed into paper sheets.  The sheets are cut into tiny squares like postage stamps or transfers and often have pictures or designs on them.  LSD is also sometimes dropped on to sugar cubes or formed into tablets or small capsules.  Only tiny amounts are needed to get an effect and the strength of LSD can vary greatly.  It is usually taken orally.

Effects

The strength can vary but a low dose will usually result in a mild LSD experience with higher doses delivering a full blown trip.  This begins about 30 minutes after taking LSD and can last up to 20 hours.  The effects vary greatly depending on the dose level, how the user feels and the situation they are in, but users often report visual effects such as intensified colours, distorted shapes and sizes and movement in stationary objects.  Distortion of sound and changes in the sense of time and place are also common.

Risks

Users can often have unpleasant or frightening experiences, which are all the more likely if the user is already anxious or depressed.  A user may also become panicky and suffer paranoia, particularly in unfamiliar, intense or chaotic environments.

The fact that once LSD is taken there is no going back until it wears off, normally 12 hours or more depending on the dose, means a bad trip can be very disturbing.  Some LSD users experience ‘flashbacks’, which is when a 'trip' is re-experienced some time afterwards.

Street names - Amyl, Liquid gold, Poppers, Rush, THT.

Amyl, Butyl and Isobutyl Nitrite (collectively known as Alkyl Nitrites or Poppers) are clear or yellow liquids which are inhaled for their intoxicating effects. The liquid is inhaled either straight from the bottle or from a cloth.

Nitrites tend to have a sweet odour when fresh but this tends to turn to a 'dirty socks' smell when stale.  The cost in the UK is any where up to £5 a bottle and it is largely Butyl Nitrite which is sold.

Effects

The effects start soon after inhalation but only last for a few minutes.  People experience a 'rush' as their heartbeat quickens and blood rushes to the head.  The commonly reported side effects include a pounding headache, dizziness, nausea, a slowed down sense of time, a flushed face and neck and a feeling of light headedness.

Users can also lose consciousness, especially if they are engaged in vigorous physical activity such as dancing or running.

Risks

Nitrite use has led to heart attacks where people already have heart or blood pressure problems.  There have also been cases of fatalities when people have drunk Nitrites rather than inhaling the vapours.  Nitrites also increase pressure on the eye ball and are dangerous for people to use if they have Glaucoma.  Regular use can also result in people experiencing skin problems around the nose or lips and users often find a tolerance develops so they no longer achieve the same high.

Street names -Shrooms Liberties, Magic’s, Mushies, Liberty cap.

These are hallucinogenic mushrooms that grow in the UK in the autumn, with the most common type being the Liberty Cap.

Magic mushrooms are usually eaten raw but are also dried out and stored for later use.  They can also be cooked into food or made into a tea or infusion and drunk.

Effects

The effects of Liberty Caps are similar to a mild dose of LSD and can vary greatly depending on the mood, situation and expectation of the user.

The effects come on after about half an hour and can last up to 9 hours, depending on how many are taken.  Users often laugh a lot and feel more confident, but some people find that they feel sick, vomit and/or suffer from stomach aches.  Higher doses often result in a mild to moderate trip with visual and sound distortions.

Risks

A bad trip can be very frightening and may include fear, anxiety and paranoia, which is more likely with high doses and where the user already feels anxious.  People who experience a bad trip can usually be calmed by others reassuring them, but flashbacks can also be experienced some time later.

Street names - Roofies, The "Date Rape Drug", Rophies, Roach, Rope, R2, Mexican Valium.

Rohypnol is a tranquilliser which has recently been labelled by the media as a 'date rape' drug.  Rohypnol is a legitimate drug used in the short-term treatment of sleep disorders, producing sedative-hypnotic effects including muscle relaxation and amnesia.

Effects and risks 

Rohypnol use causes dependence and once developed abstention induces withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, muscle pain, extreme anxiety, tension, restlessness, confusion and irritability.  Other effects can include numbness, tingling of the extremities, loss of identity, hallucinations, delirium, convulsions, shock and cardiovascular collapse.  The withdrawal seizures can occur a week or more after cessation of use.

What are solvents?

Some organic, that is carbon based compounds can produce effects similar to alcohol or anaesthetics when their vapours are inhaled.  A number are used as solvents in glues, paints, nail varnish removers, dry cleaning fluids and de-greasing compounds, with others being used as propellant gases in aerosols and fire extinguishers or as fuels such as petrol or cigarette lighter gas (butane).

These products give off vapours or gases at normal temperatures, which can be inhaled through the mouth or nose to give an intoxicating effect.

This is sometimes called 'glue sniffing', 'solvent abuse' or 'volatile substance abuse' (VSA).  Solvents can be directly inhaled, sniffed from inside a plastic or paper bag or put on a cloth before sniffing.

Effects

Inhaled solvent vapours are absorbed through the lungs and rapidly reach the brain, which slows down the breathing and heart rate and repeated or deeper inhalation can lead to feelings similar to being drunk with loss of co-ordination and disorientation.  In some cases, users momentarily lose consciousness but will normally come round quickly with no lasting damage.  Users report visual distortions and peculiarities similar to hallucinations, although the effects tend to be short lived and usually last for less than 45 minutes without a repeat dose. 

As the effects wear off users often feel tired and drowsy and may experience a 'hangover' feeling.

Risks

Accidental death or injury can happen, especially if youngsters are sniffing in an unsafe environment such as a canal or river bank, on a roof or near a busy road or train line.  If you sniff to the point of becoming unconscious, you risk dying by chocking on your own vomit.  If the method of use obstructs breathing (such as a sniffing with a plastic bag over the head) death from suffocation may also occur.

Some solvents (such as aerosols and cleaning fluids) sensitise the heart to the effects of exertion and can lead to heart failure, especially if the user is running around.  Gases in aerosols and lighter fuel refills squirted directly into the mouth can freeze the airways and also lead to death through suffocation.