Drugs Fact sheet
Types of drugs
A drug is a broad label given to any substance that changes the way your brain works. Drugs can be broadly classified into three groups: depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens.
Some drugs have a "depressant" effect and slow down your reaction to things. Taken in small amounts they may make you feel more relaxed. Taken in large amounts they may cause you to pass out as they slow down your breathing and heart rate or may cause nausea, vomiting and even death. Mixing depressant drugs may be dangerous and increases the likelihood of overdose.
The effect of the depressant you are taking may also be influenced by the amount you take. Taken in large amounts cannabis may cause hallucinations.
Depressant drugs include:
• Opiates and opioids, including drugs like heroin, opium, morphine, codeine and methadone.
• Cannabis (marijuana, hashish, hash oil)
• Sedatives and hypnotics (including valium and rohypnol)
• Barbiturates some solvents and inhalants, like petrol, glue, lighter fluids and paint thinners.
Some drugs have a 'stimulant' effect, which make you feel more awake and alert. They increase your heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. Stimulants may make you feel agitated, keep you awake, decrease your appetite and dilate your pupils. If you take a large amount of a stimulant drug you can become anxious, paranoid, aggressive and get stomach cramps. People who also use amphetamines regularly may be putting themselves at risk of developing a speed-induced psychosis (look up the fact sheet on 'Psychosis and schizophrenia').
Stimulant drugs include:
• Amphetamines (e.g. speed or methamphetamine)
• Ephedrine (Sudafed)
• Ecstasy (MDMA)
Hallucinogens may change people's perceptions of reality. During this time, people may experience visual or auditory hallucinations. It is impossible to predict whether your hallucinations are likely to be positive or unpleasant. It is not uncommon to experience anxiety, panic or paranoia during a hallucination. It is also difficult to predict the length and frequency of the hallucinations. You may still be having them for up to 24 hours or for periods after this time. Losing contact with reality and perception changes may cause people to have accidents and take risks they wouldn't normally take. Some people may develop a drug-induced psychosis as a result of taking hallucinogenic drugs (look up the fact sheet on 'Psychosis and schizophrenia').
Hallucinogenic drugs include:
• LSD (acid, trips)
• Magic mushrooms
• Cannabis may have hallucinogenic effects as well as depressant effects
The effects of drugs
Drugs have their own individual effects on people, which may result in different experiences and reactions for everyone. Your mood and the environment at the time of taking the substance may affect your reaction to it. Depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens all have different effects (see information above). You may want to check out the Australian Drug Foundation's website for information about the effects of individual drugs.
Why people take drugs
Everyone has a different reason for trying alcohol and other drugs. Some of the reasons as to why people may be taking drugs are:
• To socialise with friends
• Have fun
• Peer pressure, or the need to feel part of a group
• To forget problems and escape from worries
Illegal drugs can be particularly unpredictable, as they are not manufactured in a controlled way. Any time you take an illegal drug you cannot know whether it is stronger or weaker or the same as the last time you tried it which means you may be taking more than intended.
Mixing Drugs and Alcohol
Mixing drugs can be dangerous. Stimulants can hide the effects of depressant drugs like alcohol. You may feel less drunk than you are which may mean you take more risks, and put yourself in danger.
Thanks to www.reachout.com.au and Ted Noffs Foundation for their information