It is important to remember that drugs affect everyone in different ways. There is no way of knowing how drugs will affect you as an individual.
There is also no way of knowing if a drug will affect you the same way as it has done in the past, individual reactions depend on: the type of drug used; the amount taken; its purity; your mood; your general health; whether you are on any medication.
The factors which can affect your reaction are complex so there is no guarantees that because your friends are fine that you will be or that because you took something before that your reaction will be the same.
Never let yourself be pushed into doing anything you don’t want to. If you are going to take drugs make yourself aware of the possible negative effects and keep yourself safe.
This is the most commonly used illegal drug amongst students. Cannabis is a Class C drug. Smoked with or without tobacco or eaten, it is a relaxant and occasionally a hallucinogen.
Effects: Cannabis may make you feel unfocused, relaxed, sleepy, anxious and paranoid.
Likely to feel: Hungry, dry mouthed, slow reflexes. It is also possible to experience a bad trip
Dangers: Regular use has the similar risks as smoking. It can reduce sperm count, affect periods and unborn children, users will generally feel run down and be susceptible to illness. Cannabis is also psychologically addictive.
Be Safer: Test the strength first and if you feel ill, anxious or paranoid tell someone.
Snorted or injected cocaine is a powerful stimulant. As a Class A you run the risk of a jail term and a hefty fine.
Effects: Increases heart rate and blood pressure which gives it a short, quick effect.
Likely to feel: Dry mouth, the urge to smoke and a lack of appetite. You may also feel sick, aggressive or irritable.
Dangers: Highly addictive through psychological dependence it causes intense lows. Cocaine can also lead to heart problems, malnutrition, respiratory problems. Snorting the drug can damage nasal cavities and lead to long term psychological illness.
Be Safer: Limit the money and do not take credit. Take plenty of rest after use and never share needles.
Tranquillisers or sedatives these Class C pills last for 6-8 hours and are often used after ‘uppers’ like LSD or Ecstasy.
Effects: Makes you feel chilled out and relaxed
Likely to feel: Chilled, relaxed, sleepy… though it may make you unconscious.
Dangers: Physical addiction develops as the body builds up tolerance levels. You may think that you are invisible even invulnerable. It can cause memory loss, breathing difficulties, anxiety and panic; it can also affect periods. Injecting is very dangerous and can lead to gangrene leading to loss of limbs.
Be Safer: Do not inject.
A mood enhancer, although the affect will depend upon your initial mood. This Class A drug comes in tablet form so there is no way of knowing what it contains and whether it will enhance your mood or simply kill you.
Effects: May induce ‘waves of euphoria’ and energy. Keeps you awake.
Likely to feel: Feel hot and sweaty, thirsty, feelings intensify, you may feel anxious, paranoid and depressed. Afterwards you may be hungry, tired, weak or depressed.
Dangers: The body becomes tolerant, so greater amounts are required. Can cause a sore throat and colds, it lowers resistance. Overuse can lead to brain damage or mental illness in later life. Dehydration is also a danger of using ecstasy.
Be safer: Do not use if you suffer from high blood pressure, asthma, epilepsy, depression, diabetes or a heart condition.
Rest often, only take it when fit. If you need to sip about a pint of water or non alcoholic fluid per hour, more or less could be dangerous.
LSD / Acid
A Class A hallucinogenic drug, can cause a ‘trip’ which can last from 5-24 hours.
Effects: Your senses will become distorted, although there is no way of predicting how you will be effected.
Likely to feel: Any emotion or feeling may be generated, you may be ecstatic, terrified, uncontrollably paranoid, exhilarated, agitated, like you want to laugh, like you want to cry, like you want to dance…
Dangers: There are psychological risks and the risk of schizophrenia or psychosis are heightened. You may experience flashbacks for a significant time after using the drug. It is important you try and find out the strength before hand and remember that ’trips’ are mood dependent regardless of quality.
One bad trip is all in takes.
Be safer: If you are having a bad experience tell someone and avoid bright lights and music. It is also a good idea to have someone with you who isn’t under the influence of drugs incase of an emergency.
Opiates (eg Heroin)
This highly additive depressant Class A drug is usually injected.
Effects: A relaxed feeling likened to being ‘wrapped in cotton wool’ which can last for several hours.
Likely to feel: Opiates make you feel content and relieved but can also cause drowsiness and nausea.
Dangers: Addiction will develop as tolerance levels build against the drugs leading to psychological and physical dependency. Opiates also cause constipation, breathing problems, weight loss and affect periods. Injecting opiates can lead to abscesses, vein collapse and hepatitis, large or very pure quantities can bring about unconsciousness and/ or death.
Be Safer: Do Not Share Needles.
A stimulant which comes in tablet or power form. Speed is a Class B drug, unless prepared for injection in which case it has Class A status and penalties.
Effects: Produces an energy rush which gives you an urge to remain active even if you are physically tired. It also gives you an artificial confidence making you feel raring to go.
Likely to feel: Speeds up breathing and heart-beat, curbs appetite and will leave your mouth dry, it can also produce hallucinations although this is rare. After use you may feel tired very depressed and restless as the high wears off, it can take a couple of days for these feelings to subside.
Dangers: Overuse can lead to irritability, confusion, panic and paranoia. You will feel weak and run down as your immune system is less effective.
Be Safer: Don’t even think about it if you suffer from high blood pressure, are pregnant, have severe asthma or are on anti-depressants. Something to think about before taking Speed is that only 5% of what you are taking is likely to be pure, so what is in the other 95%?
If you are using drugs and think you have a problem or want to speak to a non-judgmental person in confidence about it you can contact the Union Welfare, Nightline or SISS, or call the National Drug Helpline on 0800 776600.