Saturday, August 18, 2007

Methadone: Common Questions

What is Methadone?

Methadone, also known as Dolophine is a oral medication that comes in liquid, pill, and diskett form, and is primarily used to treat narcotic addiction to heroin, Dilaudid, vicoden, and other opiates.

Methadone is currently the most effective treatment for heroin and opiate addiction, but is also used for patients experiencing chronic pain.

How do I know if methadone is right for me?

Do you have an opiate addiction? Have you tried other recovery options? These are just some of the questions you will be asked by the clinic's doctor when you go in for the first time. After you answer all the questions, the doctor will go over everything with you, and it will be at that time you and your doctor together can deciede if methadone is an option for you.

Why would I want methadone, isnt methadone just a drug replacing another drug?

Methadone is a legal MEDICATION used to help eliminate withdrawl and cravings, and enable's the patient to focus on underlying issues they may have, and from there they will be shown how to deal with these problems and build a productive,safe,healthy,drug-free life.

How long will I have to be on methadone?

There is not SET time limit so it depends on the person. Some people take methadone for only a short period of time, while other's stay on the program. Again, how long a person stays on methadone is up to that individual themself.

If I join a methadone program, will I have to the clinic everyday?

Yes,at first. You have to remember, when you first join a methadone program, you need first to get stabilized on a correct dose that is suitable for you, and this sometimes takes awhile, so if you didnt go everyday, it would be hard to get the increases or decreases you may need, but once you are stable, and have had NO dirty urines, and have not missed any appointments, you will be given take-homes. Generally take-homes begin after 60 or 90 days, depending on the clinic itself, and there policy.

How much does it cost for methadone treatment?

This varies from clinic to clinic. Some clinic's accept insurence, and have grants for people that are low income and cant afford the normal rates. Also, there are clinic's that give discount's to there patient's if they've attended there theripy sessions and have given there urine tests. Be sure to ask the clinic your going to what type of insurence plans they accept, if they have grants for low income patient's, and if they offer discount rates.


In the U.S., methamphetamine is most commonly referred to as 'crank', 'meth', 'shit' (as in, Do you have any shit ?) or 'crystal'. It is smoked, sniffed ('snorted'), eaten, mixed into a liquid such as coffee and drank, or injected ('banged', 'shot', 'whapped'). The latter method is extremely addictive. Smoking it increases tolerance and addiction quicker, too. This method causes a 'rush' that results in people quickly increasing the amount and frequency needed to obtain the feeling.

The cost and strength varies, being cheapest and purest in California. Although it is manufactured everywhere, California crank is considered to be the best, and is manufactured on a larger scale, producing larger 'batches' from each location. Crank produced elsewhere is produced on a smaller scale, is not as uniform from batch to batch or lab to lab, and is commonly referred to as 'bathtub crank'. It sells for about $100-$120/gram in the mid-west, or $20-$30/ 1/4 gram (referred to as a '1/4 paper' or 'paper') which can actually weigh as little as 1/10 gram and contain very little actual product.

Most of the crank bought on the street is mixed, referred to on the street as 'cut'. The cut is usually something as innocuous as baking soda or 'Fruit Fresh'. Crank obtained in powder form is usually cut before purchase. Cut makes the original product go farther, thus bringing more money per gram. The more hands it passes through before it is used, the more cut there is, as usually each person will cut it before selling it. It is important to be able to tell what crank is cut with and how much it is cut, for several reasons:

People have been known to cut product with poisonous substances, such as boric acid. The consequences of this type of cut should be obvious.

Crank is often cut with cocaine, heroine, or crushed codeine tablets (referred to as 'speed balls'). This is done to increase the rush or 'buzz' of an inferior product, or done by the user himself.

California crank, and sometimes other crank, directly from the manufacturer should be cut with some innocuous material, since it is concentrated enough to kill with as little as 1/4 gram or less, depending of course on the batch and individual user tolerance.

Crank in rock form usually should be creamy yellow to a lemon-drop color and uniform throughout the rock. A marbled or layered rock is usually cut and 're-rocked' crank or not cooked or finished right. Crank that is not made right will be tarry/dark(over cooked); green ,burning (too much muriatic acid), sticky, melting (not finished off right), pink (slightly over cooked), layered,etc.

Dexedrine is a prescription dextroamphetamine that is gaining popularity here in the states. It can't be cut, doesn't require a lab, and usually comes with more lenient punishment from the law when caught.

Tranquillizers (Nitrazepam, Temazepam, Diazepam, Lorazepam): Brief History, Law

There are more bad points about tranquillizers than good ones in this profile. This isn't hiding the real facts from you - it's simply the truth. Benzodiazepine tranquillizers decrease your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and cause slow and shallow breathing. One tranquillizer per session or day relieves stress and anxiety, but can make the user feel drowsy. More than this may make the user feel:

  • very dopey
  • completely detached from any anxiety and stress
  • drunk, uninhibited and sociable.

Going off the tracks with tranx

If you misuse tranquillizers by taking a high quantity, you'll encounter problems.

Extreme mood swings You may feel euphoric one minute, irritable and AGGRESSIVE the next.

You'll think that everyone is against you, that they're laughing at you, excluding you or ganging up on you. Paranoia combined with a lack of inhibition can make you become aggressive towards people you wouldn't normally dream of hurting.

Hangover A night on tranquillizers will leave you with the hangover to end all hangovers. If you've been drinking or taking other drugs as well, it'll be even worse.

Depression Tranquillizers aren't called "depressants" for nothing. Long-term use can make you so depressed that you'll just want to hide away from the world. In this desperate state you're likely to become even more dependent on tranquillizers or other drugs.

Chronic fatigue You'll become so drained of energy that you can't even eat or wash properly. You'll lose weight and look terrible.

What are tranquillizers?

Tranquillizers are depressants, which means they dull and slow down the central nervous system - the opposite of stimulants such as amphetamine and cocaine. Tranquillizers are prescribed for people who suffer from anxiety or those who have difficulty sleeping. Modern tranquillizers are based on the benzodiazepine group of drugs that largely replaced barbiturates in the 1950s.


There are many different brands of tranquillizer available on prescription. The following are just a few of the varieties favoured by illegal street-users:

Nitrazepam - "Mogadon" A long-acting (up to 12 hours) benzodiazepine hypnotic. It's an oval white tablet and was used as a sleeping pill in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's no longer prescribed in the UK.

Temazepam - "Normison" Another benzodiazepine hypnotic, but it only lasts 6-8 hours. It's legally prescribed in pill form, but gel capsules do turn up on the streets from abroad. Temazepam is one of the most commonly abused tranquillizers; it's sometimes used as a cheap alternative to heroin.

Diazepam - "Valium" A benzodiazepine anxiolytic, which means it reduces anxiety. It's a small white, yellow or blue tablet, of which white is the weakest and blue the strongest. It can last up to 24 hours.

Lorazepam - "Ativan" An anxiolytic like diazepam, but it only lasts 4-6 hours.

Strange behaviour

A high quantity of tranquillizers can affect your judgement and make you act out of character. You're likely to take risks and do something stupid, such as shoplift or break into a car, because you'll believe you're invincible or even "invisible". The problem is that tranquillizers affect your judgement to such an extent that you're likely to be completely blatant about your behaviour and get caught.


Some users take tranquillizers by grinding up the pills into a powder, dissolving it in water and injecting the liquid. Heavy tranquillizer users, and heroin users who can't get their habitual drug are more likely to inject the jelly-filled temazepam capsules.

Tranquillizers reduce your control and judgement, so you're more likely to be careless when injecting. You won't know whose works are whose, and you won't care anyway. All this makes the risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B or C from shared needles and works even greater.

Vein blockages
Temazepam may give a faster hit when injected, but there's a price to pay. The liquified gel from the capsule can re-form once it's inside the veins so it's like injecting wine gums - vein blockage can easily occur, leading to abscesses, ulcers, blocked blood vessels and gangrene.

There's always a greater risk of overdosing on a drug when you inject. Once the drug is in your system it's too late to change your mind. If you overdose on tranquillizers, your system slows down and eventually you could stop breathing, go into a coma and die.

Tranx and alcohol

Tranquillizers minimize the control you have over your actions. Alcohol does the same. If you take them together, the combination can be lethal. Alcohol exaggerates the hypnotic effects of tranquillizers and can make you feel incredibly drowsy. This can then lead to all sorts of unpleasant and unpredictable problems:

  • you could fall asleep, vomit, choke and die
  • you could feel so spaced out that you accidentally overdose. You may just take a few more tablets and have another drink without thinking about the consequences. Eventually you'll slip into unconsciousness and could die
  • alcohol also intensifies the anxiolytic effects of tranquillizers: anxiety and tension are greatly reduced so you'll think you're indestructible, and will end up getting into a fight. If you do, you'll be so unco-ordinated that you'll come off worse.

A risky way to come down
More and more people are taking tranquillizers to "chill out" after clubbing. This is a distinctly bad idea as tranx and other drugs do not mix well at all.

Staying out of trouble
DON'T take a stimulant, such as speed, to combat the chronic fatigue. The combination of a tranquillizer comedown and a speed comedown will leave you feeling even worse.
DON'T cross the danger line. The difficulty is knowing what a safe amount is, since the "safe amount" can still be very close to the danger line and, because of the nature of the drug, you can easily overdose without even knowing it.
DON'T drive, ride a bike or operate machinery. When you're on tranquillizers, you'll be in no state to do any of these things, even if you think you are. The same applies for the day after when you're struggling with a debilitating hangover.
DON'T be careless if you're having sex. Despite what people say, tranquillizers are not aphrodisiacs, but they do lower your self-control, so you're more likely to have casual and unprotected sex.
DON'T take tranquillizers if you're pregnant. If you do, your baby may be born with a tranquillizer dependency and will have to go through withdrawal after birth.


Tranquillizer addiction

Physical and psychological dependence on tranquillizers can happen in an alarmingly short space of time. The higher the quantity and the more often you take them, the greater the chance of dependency. You reach a stage where you can't cope without tranquillizers and are terrified of trying to stop taking them.


Suffering withdrawal from tranquillizers is no joke, but it can be done.
  • Those who have gone through it say that it must be harder than coming off heroin.
  • Sudden withdrawal is very dangerous and potentially fatal. It can lead to paranoia, depression, panic attacks, shakes, waves of psychosis, hallucinations, nausea, insomnia and nightmares.

These symptoms are particularly bad when coming off short-acting benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam.

The body quickly develops a tolerance to tranquillizers. It learns to cope with the effects so you have to take a stronger dose more often to achieve the same effect. But, equally, if you stop taking tranquillizers for as little as a few weeks, your tolerance will reduce. If you then take what was your normal dose you're more likely to overdose because of the shock to your system.
If you're trying to come off tranquillizers you have to be weaned - so GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. Don't try to go it alone.

If something goes wrong

  • If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that she's still breathing.

Solvents: Brief History, Law

What are solvents?

Most solvents are volatile substances, which means they give off a vapour and evaporate when in contact with air. The most common term associated with solvent abuse is "glue-sniffing", but glue is just one of many products that are "sniffed". A whole range of household items, such as aerosols, correcting fluid and nail polish, are abused.

The solvents effect

The hit from solvents is strong, can be felt almost instantaneously and lasts about half an hour:

  • people feel a sense of euphoria, and things seem very unreal. Users say it's like suddenly getting very drunk
  • the heart-rate and breathing shoot up, which makes people feel giddy and light-headed
  • it's common to find it difficult to stand up or walk properly
  • some users feel happy, dreamy or excited, and start giggling uncontrollably. Continuing to inhale beyond this point can lead to unpleasant hallucinations
  • also common is the feeling of invincibility. People have been known to leap out of windows or in front of speeding cars in the belief that they can survive anything. THEY CAN'T.

There are several ways in which solvents are abused and they all amount to inhaling the vapours they give off:

  • they are poured on to a piece of cloth or into a plastic bag (NEVER PUT A PLASTIC BAG OVER YOUR HEAD)
  • most dangerous, is spraying the aerosol straight into the mouth which can freeze up the throat and the air passages so that breathing stops. Someone doing this can die in a few minutes.

If you stop using solvents, your body won't suffer withdrawal symptoms because they're not physically addictive. Solvents can, however, be psychologically addictive. Heavy or long-term users feel they can't face life unless they're cloaked in a solvent haze. Solvent abuse becomes their only escape from what they see as a dull or hopeless life.

If you use solvents regularly, you'll build up a tolerance and need more to get the same effects, so there's an even greater risk of doing yourself harm.
Coming off solvents Withdrawal from solvents leads to powerful feelings of anxiety, depression and nervousness, but these effects will wear off.



What some people do on solvents

You may be seriously disorientated and confused as if you're really drunk. In this state, anything could happen. Solvent abusers have been killed by:

  • running into traffic
  • falling into a canal or river and drowning
  • accidentally starting a fire
  • literally "exercising to death". The adrenaline stimulated by solvent sniffing can make you hyperactive and cause you to overexert yourself, for example, by running for a long time or lifting something very heavy. And as your heart will already be working overtime, the extra strain could cause a heart attack. All these dangers are increased if you're hallucinating. You may be running away from a frightening vision or think you're able to do the impossible, such as stop traffic. This isn't a joke: these things have happened.


Death or serious injury can result from solvent abuse.
  • You may overexert yourself or have an accident, and some ways of using solvents can lead to suffocation and death in minutes.
  • The poisons, or toxins, in solvents also pose a real threat. Many of the chemicals attack body organs, particularly the liver and heart, leading to disease, organ failure and even death.
  • Solvents also cause your body to produce a lot of adrenaline, which gives you a burst of energy that increases your heart-rate dramatically. This sudden change may make you very sick and if you're sick while unconscious, you may choke to death, or it can put such a strain on your heart, that it stops suddenly and you may die.

There are other effects of solvent abuse that won't kill you, but won't thrill you either. Repeated use can lead to lots of physical and psychological side effects.

Skin rashes The skin around your mouth and nose becomes irritated.

It's common to become tired and have a thick head.

Weight loss and shakes You look terrible and feel even worse.

Liver and kidney failure The toxins poison these vital organs. If they fail you'll die.

Short-term memory loss You become forgetful and can't concentrate on anything.

Mood swings You'll be smiling one minute and aggressive the next.

Depression The only way to beat the depression is to kick the habit.

The Law
  • It's not illegal to possess or misuse solvents. It is, however, a criminal offence to supply (sell or give) a solvent for inhalation to a person who is under the age of 18. If the police see a group of you sniffing a solvent, they'll probably ask you to move along or detain you so that they can make enquiries about your welfare.
  • If your behaviour is at all threatening or aggressive after you've been using solvents, the police may arrest you.

Solvents dangers

Inhaling solvents is exceedingly dangerous so stay away from them if you can. However, if you do inhale solvents lower the risks:

  • never spray an aerosol or lighter refill directly into your mouth
  • never put a bag of solvent over your head
  • stay in a group: if something goes wrong, a friend can get help or calm you down
  • never use solvents frequently - even once a week is too often
  • avoid busy roads, rivers, railways and the tops of buildings so, if you hallucinate, you're less likely to injure yourself
  • don't overexert yourself: it's a bad idea to do any strenuous exercise after sniffing.

If you stop using solvents, any side effects will clear up. It's not a lost cause and you can get back to normal, so give it up.

If somehting goes wrong

bad trip
Your friend may begin to see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating and may cause your friend to panic. Reassure her that the things she can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend.

If your friend has serious burns, call an ambulance immediately. Meanwhile, try to cool the affected area with cold water and make your friend as comfortable as possible.

  • If your friend is breathing, place him in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save his life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if he stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that he's still breathing.

Get the solvent away from your friend immediately. Open any doors and windows.


What is Rohypnol?

Rohypnol is a powerful tranquillizer. It's a relative of valium, only it's much stronger and potently depressive. Even a very small dose makes the user feel sleepy and dopey. Rohypnol is generally prescribed as a sleeping pill for severe insomnia, but it's also considered smart and hip by college girls on US campuses.

One tablet is like drinking a six-pack of beer - and the effects can last up to eight hours.

  • Just one tablet can make the user feel dizzy, nauseous, feverish and disorientated.
  • More than one tablet will cause instant drunkenness and memory loss.
  • One tablet can stop you breathing.
  • Rohypnol plus alcohol can lead to coma.

How it's misused

Some users take rohypnol knowingly, but it's notorious for being used to spike the drinks of unsuspecting females. This way a man can have sex without the woman remembering or being in control of what's happening. The common scenario is of a woman at a party - passing out suddenly, being raped and having no recollection of what happened, sometimes for days.

If something goes wrong

If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance.
Be prepared to resuscitate.

Poppers (alkyl nitrites): Brief History, Law

What is poppers?

This is a group of quick-acting drugs (alkyl nitrites), of which amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite are the most widely available. Poppers evaporate at room temperature and are inhaled. They're stimulants but the "rush" lasts minutes, hence the name "poppers".

Know the street names

Drugs have many different street names and some of them sound similar. If you tried to sniff Liquid X (GHB) instead of Liquid Gold (poppers) not much would happen. But if you swallowed poppers when you wanted GHB, it could be fatal.

Poppers dangers

You may be able to find poppers in a joke shop, but they're no joke. They're not addictive, but the effects can be pretty unpleasant. Apart from fainting, nausea and headaches, users can suffer other problems.

  • Because alkyl nitrites speed up heart-rate and lower blood pressure they're dangerous for anyone with a heart or blood-pressure condition.
  • Regular use can lead to skin problems around the nose and mouth.
  • Nitrites are caustic, which means they'll burn skin if spilt.
  • Inhaling vapors increases the pressure on your eyeball so is very dangerous if you suffer from an eye condition, such as glaucoma.
  • Increased sexual arousal and decreased sexual inhibitions are a dangerous combination - you're more likely to have casual sex, so be aware of the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Small bottles, or occasionally glass vials, of clear gold-coloured liquid that's inhaled from the bottle or from a cloth soaked in it. Fresh poppers smell sweet and fruity, but the stale chemical smells like old socks.

The poppers effect

The effects from inhaling poppers are instantaneous, but very short lived. There may be:

  • a burst of energy, and a rushing sensation, because the heart starts beating faster
  • a feeling of light-headedness after the initial rush because blood pressure is reduced. This can lead to dizziness, loss of balance and even fainting
  • a sense that time has slowed down
  • a lowering of sexual inhibition, and possibly a feeling of being sexually aroused.

What you won't like

  • Fainting is never a good move. You'll not only feel foolish coming round, but you may also injure yourself when you fall.
  • You may also feel very sick and have a thumping headache - if you're in a club, you probably won't feel like dancing.


  • DON'T keep taking more hits - you'll just feel worse and increase your chances of nasty effects with every hit.
  • DON'T use poppers with other drugs - you're just creating bad effects.
  • DON'T mix poppers with alcohol - you're even more likely to collapse or have a potentially disastrous sexual encounter.

The Law

Alkyl nitrites are not covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act. However, amyl nitrite is a controlled medicine, which means possession without a prescription is illegal, as is supply.

If something goes wrong

If nitrites burn your skin, run cold water over the area for about 20 minutes.

If your friend has swallowed poppers, call an ambulance. If she's conscious, give her frequent sips of cold water or milk. Don't try to make her sick.

If your friend feels faint, take him somewhere quiet and lay him down with his feet in the air. Give him some cola to drink (nothing else is as good). Don't let him stand up too quickly.

  • If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that she's still breathing.

PCP (Phencyclidine): Brief History, Law

What is PCP?

The proper name for PCP is phencyclidine. Like ketamine, it was originally designed to be used as an anaesthetic, but because it caused confusion and delirium its use was abandoned. PCP is now only used on animals and even then rarely. Some PCP users may be unaware they have taken the drug because it's sometimes a hidden ingredient of ecstasy and cannabis resin.

The Law

PCP is chemically related to ketamine and has the same legal status. This means that it's not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act and it's not illegal for an authorized person to possess it. However, its sale and supply are controlled under the Medicines Act and it's illegal to give it away or sell it.

PCP is stored in the body's fat cells, and therefore can never be completely eliminated. So if you take exercise or dance a lot, the drug in the fat cells will be stirred up again and your bad trip can come back, with hideous flashbacks.

PCP is a white, impure, crystalline powder. It's swallowed, snorted, smoked or - rarely - injected. Sometimes it's mixed with cannabis and tobacco and smoked like a joint, or occasionally as skinny brown roll-ups that have been dipped in liquid PCP.


  • Never take PCP with other drugs.
  • Don't take PCP when you're out clubbing.
  • Don't take PCP if you have a history of mental illness.
  • Never inject.

The PCP effect

Depending on how it's taken, the effects start in anything from a matter of seconds to about half an hour afterwards. There's a lot going on in the mind and body - it's said to be like taking amphetamine and acid, and drinking alcohol all at the same time.

  • PCP acts as a stimulant, increasing body temperature, causing palpitations and boosting energy and confidence.
  • But it also acts as a depressant, causing drowsiness, slurred speech, muscle rigidity and lack of co-ordination.
  • On top of that, the hallucinogenic effect makes the user see and feel things that aren't really there. It can give a weird "out-of-body" experience and distorted body image.
  • Because users lose their inhibitions and have a reduced sensitivity to pain, they often become AGGRESSIVE and violent.
  • PCP also releases adrenaline so users become immensely strong; if they become obstreperous they often need several people to control them - and that means the police.

The PCP comedown

A PCP comedown is one of the worst. It can go on for days with alternate periods of sleeping and wakefulness, followed by memory loss of the whole episode. The after-effects of one dose can last weeks, even months, with anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia and depression.


PCP isn't addictive, but it's a horrible drug that can cause blurred vision, inability to speak or move, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, hallucinations and dehydration.
  • If you're susceptible, your muscles may go into spasm and you could end up in a coma.
  • People have died from prolonged fits (convulsions), a heart attack and even ruptured blood vessels in the brain as a direct result of taking PCP.
  • There's a risk of permanent mental derangement from long-term use.

If something goes wrong

Ease your friend's fall and clear a space around her. Loosen clothing around her neck and put something soft under her head. When the fit stops, put her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance.

bad trip
Your friend may see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating. Talk to him and reassure him that the things he can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend until the bad trip is over.

If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance.
  • Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that she's still breathing.


Magic Mushrooms: Brief History, Law

Magic mushrooms usage

  • Both fresh and dried mushrooms are eaten raw, cooked or they're boiled up into a mushroom tea. But be warned - they don't taste very good.
  • Dried mushrooms are smoked in a rolled cigarette or pipe.

As with all other drugs, no-one ever really knows how strong they're going to be; it depends on the size and age of the mushrooms and how they've been stored. Fly Agaric is much stronger than Liberty Cap, so it's impossible to predict how many mushrooms will bring on hallucinations; they affect different people in different ways. Remember, once a "trip" has started, it can't be stopped.

Magic mushrooms are similar in effect to acid as they contain chemicals that can trigger hallucinations. They're wild mushrooms (fungi) from two main plant groups: the psilocybe group and the amanita species. Both types grow wild in the UK, but the most common is the Liberty Cap, which contains the hallucinogen psilocybin. Far harder to find is the Fly Agaric, which contains ibotenic acid - another hallucinogenic chemical.


Liberty Cap

A small pale yellow to light brown fungus with a slender stem and conical cap. Liberty Cap mushrooms grow abundantly in early autumn on open grassland, parks and roadside verges.

Fly Agaric

A larger bright red mushroom with white spots and a thick white stalk that grows in undisturbed woodland and is found in early autumn. Once picked, the mushrooms are usually dried to preserve them. The Liberty Cap is dried whole and the pale cap darkens to brown or black. The dried cap of the Fly Agaric is cut into sections and the dried lumps turn brown. Once dried, both types are difficult to distinguish from other mushrooms.

The mushroom effect

How people are affected depends on their own tolerance and the strength of the mushrooms. There's usually no effect for the first half an hour. Some users have been known to eat more because they haven't started hallucinating straightaway, but this can lead to real trouble. The effects usually peak after about three hours, and the whole experience can last for nine hours or more. Provided too many mushrooms aren't taken, a mushroom "trip" generally follows certain lines:

  • users will feel happy and euphoric; they may get the giggles and find everything hilarious
  • they feel detached from the world, and on a different wavelength to everyone else
  • people become excited and engrossed in whatever they're doing
  • some begin to see and hear things that aren't really there (hallucinate). Sounds and colours may become distorted or intense and things may change shape (the psychedelic effect)
  • users may lose track of time
  • some people say they feel things on their skin that aren't there
  • some experience a spiritual journey and a sense of spiritual enlightenment.

Set and setting
When taking any hallucinogenic drug the set (how people feel when they take it) and setting (where and with whom they take it) are very important in determining whether or not the experience is a bad one.

  • If you're worried or anxious, mushrooms can give you a scary shock. So, if you're going to take mushrooms, take them with people you feel comfortable with, in a place where you feel in control - don't take them at a big party or at a club with lots of strangers around you.
  • Be aware of your mind-set. If in doubt, don't take mushrooms - you could spin off into an hallucinogenic paranoia.


The Law

There are no legal restrictions on Fly Agaric mushrooms. Liberty Caps are not illegal if they're raw. But once prepared for use in any way - even by just drying them - they're regarded as a Class A drug. The penalty is a fine and prison for possession, and possibly life imprisonment, a fine and seizure of drug-related assets for supplying.

Avoiding the nightmare

You may be able to avoid a nasty experience on mushrooms if you try to stay in control. This is a fine line, so stick to the guidelines:

  • don't take too much. A few too many mushrooms can have a very profound effect. You can't be sure of their strength or the way you'll react
  • don't mix mushrooms with other drugs. You can't predict the effects of a drugs cocktail - and if they're bad, they'll be really bad
  • know what you're taking. Try to find out where the mushrooms came from, although this isn't always possible. As with all drugs, never accept them from a stranger, even if they seem like the genuine article.

If you take mushrooms when you're not in the right frame of mind, you could end up having a very nasty time:
  • feelings of paranoia can make you hysterical
  • the hallucinations can be terrifying and impossible to stop
  • you may start to panic and become completely out of touch with everything and everyone around you. You'll be overcome with fear, you can no longer control the drug - it now controls you.

Brief history

Ancient peoples are known to have taken mushrooms to experience altered states of consciousness and gain spiritual enlightenment. A group of mushroom statues found in Guatemala and thought to date as far back as 500 BC, has been interpreted as evidence that ancient peoples once worshiped the mushroom. For centuries, South American Indians have been taking a related drug - mescaline - derived from magic mushrooms. Aldous Huxley described taking mescaline with South American Indians in his book The Doorways of Perception (1935). It wasn't until the 1960s that Western cultures, especially college students, began to use mushrooms recreationally as a natural and milder alternative to acid.

If something goes wrong

panic attack
If your friend is paranoid, anxious and starts to panic take her to a quiet room and try to reassure her. Offer her some water, and keep talking to her. Don't let her wander off. If your friend begins panting (hyperventilating), get her to breathe normally by copying you.

bad trip
Your friend may begin to see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating and may cause your friend to panic. Talk to him and reassure him that the things he can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend until the trip is over.

stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea
If you or a friend experience the above symptoms after eating poisonous mushrooms, call an ambulance or go to the nearest hospital. If one of you has vomited, give the doctors a sample of the vomit and of the mushrooms you've taken, if there are any left, to help them counteract the effects.

difficulty breathing
Try to get your friend to lie in the recovery position and call an ambulance. Keep checking his breathing and be ready to resuscitate.

If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life.
  • Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that she's still breathing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Methylamphetamine: Brief History, Law

What is methylamphetamine
Methylamphetamine or methamphetamine is a man-made stimulant. It's like amphetamine but MUCH stronger. It's to amphetamine what crack is to cocaine - it can be 90-100 per cent pure.

Swallowing The least dangerous method and it takes about half an hour to take effect. Far smaller amounts are used than with amphetamine for the drug to take effect.

Smoking Users get an intense and almost immediate hit from inhaling the vapours given off by heating crystals. The powder is not usually smoked because the heating process breaks it down, lessening the effect.


What you might not like

Methylamphetamine can trigger unpleasant hallucinations that make you lose control of your actions and emotions. People have assaulted and even raped under the influence of methylamphetamine.

Methylamphetamine dangers

This is a really nasty drug - side effects may kill.
  • There's a risk of a stroke or a heart attack. It also raises your body temperature, which can lead to heatstroke especially if you're in a club and taking other drugs - heatstroke can kill.
  • Tolerance builds up quickly with continuous use. Eventually, you may need dangerous amounts to get near the original effect.
  • There's a real risk of overdose and even a tiny amount could be too much for your body - it can happen the first time it's taken. If you overdose you may suffer convulsions, which can lead to unconsciousness and even death.

Methylamphetamine and addiction
Within a short time physical dependence, similar to dependence on crack, could develop.
  • If you use this drug regularly, you'll become so psychologically dependent that you can't face the world without it.
  • Withdrawal can lead to depression, panic attacks and paranoia.

  • Creamy white or sandy-coloured powder sold in wraps like amphetamine.
  • Tablets in different shapes, colours and sizes. Some have names such as "speed king" stamped on them.
  • Clear and colourless crystals, like glass, sold in bags. Large crystals (bombs) are bought individually wrapped in plastic film or cigarette papers.

The methylamphetamine effect

A minute amount of this nasty stimulant gives an incredible hit - it's that powerful. The feelings are not short lived; one hit can last for hours, depending on the user's tolerance and the amount taken.
  • The "rush" is very intense with sensations of euphoria, energy and invincibility that can be almost overwhelming.
  • Some users feel sexually aroused.

The comedown

The comedown is a real kick in the teeth - it's far worse than coming down from amphetamine:

  • you can feel exhausted and achy for days
  • you feel depressed, nervous and panicky
  • after a few weeks of use your behaviour becomes bizarre, you're paranoid, you suffer delusions, even psychosis.
Methylamphetamine can even trigger schizophrenia.

Getting help

If you or anyone you know has a problem with methylamphetamine, get professional help

Methadone: Brief History, Law


  • Methadone comes as tablets and ampoules of clear, injectable liquid. Both are prescribed under the trade name Physeptone.
  • It's also found as a brown, orange or green linctus of varying strengths or as a mixture known as DTF, which comes in the same colours as the linctus, but is stronger. Don't inject - injecting anything is stupid! There's a risk of overdose and, if you share needles, of getting infections like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B or C.

The methadone effect

The effects of methadone are similar to heroin, but it's not as powerful.
  • There's no intense hit, which is why heroin users don't like it as much.
  • The effects are longer lasting than heroin - pain relief and feelings of well-being can last up to 24 hours.

What you won't like

You may also suffer from nausea and vomiting, severe constipation, stomach and back pain and loss of sexual drive.

Methadone is as addictive as heroin. You can quickly gain a physical and psychological dependence to methadone if you use it regularly and this can be as strong as heroin dependence.

Methadone tolerance
This builds up with continued use, although not as quickly as with heroin.

  • Because methadone is chemically similar to heroin, methadone tolerance can be transferred to heroin and vice versa.
  • Methadone tolerance is quickly lost. If you don't use it for a week, your tolerance will be back to near zero. So if you take your "normal" dose again it can result in an overdose.

Methadone withdrawal is even tougher than heroin withdrawal.
  • If you're trying to come off methadone, you must get professional help because your dose needs to be brought down gradually over a period of a few weeks.
  • The physical and psychological effects can be as bad as for heroin, but the real problem is that the withdrawal symptoms can last for six weeks or more. However, the pain and fear will gradually reduce after the struggle of the first 2-3 weeks. No matter how hard it is, remember that people have done it before you.

What is methadone

Methadone is a man-made chemical that has similar properties to opiates such as heroin. Most of the information on heroin goes for methadone as well. It's often used by doctors to wean addicts off heroin on a controlled regimen.

Methadone and other drugs
Some people have started using methadone to help them come down from ecstasy and amphetamine. It's true that this will take the edge off a comedown but it's an extremely dangerous way to do it. The abrupt change to your heart-rate puts your heart under great stress; if you don't know what you're doing you may take too much or mix it with dangerously high levels of other depressants such as alcohol or tranquillizers. The net result is your heart-rate and breathing slow so much they could stop completely.

The Law
Methadone is a Class A drug, but it's schedule 2 which means it's only legal to have if it's prescribed for you by a doctor. It's illegal to give it away or sell it to someone else.

As with heroin, you can't guarantee your safety on methadone but you can lower the risks. Most importantly, don't mix it with other drugs.

If something goes wrong

  • If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that she's still breathing.

Ketamine: Brief History, Law

On prescription ketamine comes as a clear liquid, but on the street it's a white powder or tablet. The powder is bought in a paper "wrap", similar to amphetamine, and can be swallowed or inhaled ("snorted"). The tablet is usually swallowed, but if ground up it can be inhaled.

The ketamine effect

  • There's an initial rush, similar to the cocaine rush, that may happen within 30 seconds if the drug is injected, or 20-30 minutes if swallowed. Then it's rapidly downhill for about the next three hours.
  • the body is numb and paralysed
  • there may be sickness and vomiting
  • co-ordination goes and the simplest tasks are impossible
  • there's a feeling of being weightless and of being separated from the body
  • terrifying hallucinations can occur; limbs feel as though they're growing and shrinking; there's tunnel vision and faces look grossly distorted. The hallucinations seem as if they'll never stop and there's a feeling of being close to death.

Ketamine and ecstasy

  • Be aware. Ketamine is one of the drugs most often "cut" with MDMA in ecstasy pills.
  • People sometimes say they've had a "smacky" E, meaning it made them feel sedated, instead of euphoric and energetic. In fact, this pill may have contained ketamine.
  • Worse still, ketamine pills are sometimes sold as ecstasy so be careful. Ketamine has anything but the effect of an E, and can be terrifying for someone who isn't prepared for it.

What is ketamine

Ketamine is a "dissociative anaesthetic", which means it detaches the mind from the body. It's used as a HORSE TRANQUILLIZER and is related to the veterinary anaesthetic PCP, also known as angel dust.

The Law

  • Ketamine is not a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act so it's not illegal to possess it.
  • Its sale and supply are controlled under the Medicines Act, so it's illegal to give it away or sell it.

This is HORRIBLE stuff

  • Ketamine is not a dance drug and taking it in a club is a bad idea. The noisy, disorientating environment will worsen the bad effects of ketamine.
  • Never take it on the spur of the moment.
  • DON'T MIX KETAMINE with any other drugs. Ketamine and speed, ketamine and acid, and ketamine and alcohol are all recipes for disaster.

If something goes wrong

bad trip
Your friend may see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating. Reassure her that the things she can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend until the bad trip is over.

  • If your friend is breathing, place him in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save his life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if he stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while he's unconscious, check that he's still breathing.

Heroin: Brief History, Law

What is heroin

Heroin (diamorphine hydrochloride) is produced by processing raw opium, a natural substance found in oriental opium poppies. It's a depressant drug so its properties are basically the opposite of a stimulant drug, such as amphetamine. Because heroin is a "narcotic analgesic", it numbs the brain and body and kills pain.

How heroin works

As a depressant drug, heroin dulls the central nervous system:

  • the heart beats more slowly
  • breathing slows down and becomes shallower, so less oxygen is taken in
  • blood pressure falls.

The heroin effect

The heroin effect is big - bigger than almost any other drug. It's a really powerful feeling that has no comparison in normal life. When heroin is injected intravenously, the "hit" is almost instantaneous, but even when it's smoked it only takes a few seconds.

  • Feelings of euphoria and waves of incredible well-being flood in. All pain - physical and mental - disappears.
  • The addictive effect is that you really love yourself.
  • In small quantities heroin makes people very talkative, energized, impassioned and confident.
  • Larger quantities send people into a trance-like state - they lose themselves in an interior world and they can't and don't want to communicate with anyone.
  • The initial "rush" is followed by a mellow, chilled-out feeling that makes the world look rosy.
  • The heroin effect starts to wear off after 1-2 hours, depending on tolerance levels and how often it's used. It will have worn off completely after anything from 3-6 hours.

Heroin comes in three forms: brown, china white and pharmaceutical heroin.


  • The most common form, this is in fact diamorphine base - the hydrochloride bit has been removed.
  • It's a brown powder, although the colour can vary from creamy white to dark coffee. The lighter the colour, the higher the heroin content.
  • Brown is low-grade, messy, dirty stuff. The heroin content varies from 10 to 60 per cent. The rest is rubbish, "cut" with the heroin to bulk out the quantity.
  • Brown is smoked - it should never be injected.

China white
  • Found as grey granules that look a little like instant coffee.
  • Although china white is smoked, it can also be injected.

Pharmaceutical heroin
Pure heroin for medical use, it comes as a pure white powder or tablets, or as ampoules of clear liquid.

Brief history

Heroin has a long history. The first source was opium from poppies around 6000 BC; the Greeks recorded opium addiction in the third century BC. The Chinese first inhaled it in the 17th century. In 16th-century Europe, Paracelsus invented laudanum - an opium-based medicine that was used for painkilling and sedation well into the 19th century, until morphine was developed. A more powerful variant, diamorphine (heroin), appeared in Germany in 1874 and by the 1930s it had overtaken opium as the cheaper narcotic.



  • The syringe and any other paraphernalia (the works) must be sterile - and a fresh needle used every time.
  • Used needles should be disposed of safely - never leave them lying around.
  • Needle exchanges supply sterile needles. Local health authorities or the National Drugs Helpline will have details of the nearest needle exchange. Never share someone else's works - that's how infections like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C are spread.

Don't on any account take a "speedball", a mixed injection of heroin and cocaine. It's very dangerous as the two drugs worsen each other's effects.

A smack in the face

Overdosing If you're not used to taking heroin, overdosing is a real possibility - especially if you're injecting. When you've overdosed, your breathing slows right down and breaths become so shallow that your body doesn't get enough oxygen. Unconsciousness follows and if you don't get to a hospital quickly, your breathing may stop altogether and you'll die.

Nausea and vomiting First-time users could easily be sick and if you pass out, there's a real risk that you could choke on your vomit.

If you're an addict, heroin quickly becomes the only thing in your life. You lose weight and become malnourished because you don't eat, and you look even worse because you can't be bothered to wash. But you won't care about any of this - getting your next hit will be the only thing that matters.

Abscesses, sores and open wounds With heavy use, these develop at injection sites - they're unattractive and very painful. Crime Often the only way to pay for a habit is to steal, and addicts will steal from just about anywhere. Some are so desperate they even steal from their own families. Crime only leads to one place - prison.

Smoking heroin

  • Known as "chasing the dragon" or "booting", this method is far less dangerous than injecting and gives a similar hit - it's intense and felt very quickly.
  • Heroin is occasionally smoked in a pipe or hand-rolled cigarette, or heated from below on tin-foil.

Injecting heroin - the dangers

  • Injecting directly into the vein is the most dangerous way of taking heroin. It must be made into a liquid first. China white and pharmaceutical heroin will dissolve in water. Brown has to be dissolved in an acid - dissolved vitamin C powder is the least dangerous.
  • Dissolving crushed tablets is even worse. It leaves undissolved grains that cause blockages in small blood vessels, leading to abscesses and infection. To try to prevent this some users draw the liquid into a syringe through a cigarette filter - this doesn't make it safe

Stay out of trouble
Heroin is dangerous: you can't guarantee your safety, but the risks can be lowered.

Don't inject Smoking provides a similar hit and is far safer. NEVER share needles.

Don't leave needles lying around Dispose of them safely.
Know what you're taking There's no time for regrets if you overdose.

Don't top up You'll overdose.
Know your limits Tolerance drops if heroin isn't used for a while, so a "normal" quantity could kill.

Be sensible Don't drive, ride a bike or use machinery while on heroin.

Practise safe sex There's even more reason to use a condom because of the high incidence of HIV/AIDS among users

Never mix heroin with other drugs. Heroin is so powerful on its own that the addition of any other drug can kill..

Signs of addiction
  • You're on a slippery slope if: you find it hard to get to sleep
  • you get pains in your muscles
  • you feel very sick and constipated.

No excuses
Some people blame their dependency on their "addictive personality". There's no such thing: it's just an excuse to avoid looking at the real reasons behind their drug dependency.

Heroin tolerance
Users quickly gain a tolerance to heroin so the body learns to cope with it and needs more to feel the original euphoric rush.

  • Eventually, it can get to the stage where even high doses merely take away the pain and craving - there is no euphoria.
  • BUT if you stop using heroin, tolerance falls quickly. If you start again, your body won't be able to cope with the same amount and you could overdose.
  • Smoking heroin keeps tolerance at a more even level than if it's injected.

Kicking the habit

If you're dependent on heroin, it'll be difficult to come off it. BUT it isn't a lost cause. Many people have given it up - you can too. First you've got to accept certain things:

  • only you can do your detox - others just help
  • you have to want to come off
  • do it for yourself - nobody else matters.
No-one should kick heroin by themselves; if you or someone you know has a heroin habit, get professional help. Remember that all drug agencies and medical services will treat your case in complete confidence. The first few days are the hardest. Once you're through them, hang in there. You've got this far, you can pull it off.

This is the toughest part.
Keep busy Get a job or do community work. Take up hobbies.
Stay away from anything that reminds you of heroin Steer clear of other users and places where there are drugs.
Get support When your will-power is slipping, talk to someone: friends, family or professional drug organizations.

Heroin and addiction

Heroin is severely addictive: users can develop a physical and psychological dependency on the drug, despite having been sure they could stay in control. The less stable and good your life is, the greater the chance of becoming addicted to the warmth and detachment from reality that heroin brings.

What it's like to be addicted

  • Your body needs heroin just to feel normal.
  • Your physical craving becomes so strong that your whole life revolves around finding the money and the drugs for your next hit.
  • The psychological craving is as strong as the physical. You're terrified of being without heroin. You end up more fearful of life and more isolated with a heroin habit than you ever were before you got one.

The Law
Heroin is a Class A drug. It's illegal all over the world and having, using or supplying it are seen as very serious offenses everywhere.
  • The penalty is sometimes a very long prison sentence and a fine.
  • In some countries, possessing or supplying heroin may even carry the death penalty.

If something goes wrong

hitting an artery
If you hit an artery when injecting, staunch the flow of blood by applying firm pressure over the injury, holding the limb as high as possible. Call an ambulance or go straight to the hospital Accident and Emergency department.

If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life.
  • Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
  • If your friend is sick while unconscious check that she's still breathing.

Herbal Ecstasy, Khat: Form, Law

Herbal Highs

Herbal stimulants are increasingly popular, especially on the summer rock festival circuit. Herbal ecstasy, a blend of mildly psychoactive herbs or herb extracts, is openly sold as a "safe" alternative to ecstasy (MDMA). However, many types contain the drug ephedrine and can be extremely dangerous.

The Law
Herbal ecstasy is not a controlled substance.

Herbal ecstasy is usually sold in capsules.

Another herbal alternative is khat, a mild amphetamine-like stimulant derived from a leafy plant that grows in eastern Africa and the Arabian peninsula.

  • Said to be like having a small dose of amphetamine; it makes the user euphoric and talkative. It can also have calming effects.
  • Chewing khat causes inflammation of the mouth and infections, and overuse can cause cancer of the mouth.
  • Prolonged and regular use of khat may cause depression, anxiety and irritability.

Herbal ecstasy

  • Because it's a mild stimulant, energy, awareness and perception are likely to be increased, but how much and for how long depends on exactly what's in it. Some people claim that it has similar effects to ecstasy, but others have said that it's no more stimulating than a cup of coffee or a glass of cola.
  • Herbal ecstasy that contains ephedrine can have unpleasant side effects, which may include jitteriness, tremors, headaches, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, chest pains and palpitations.

The Law
Khat is not a controlled substance in the UK.

Khat leaves are either chewed fresh or brewed into a tea. They're totally impure.


GHB (gammahydroxybutyrate): Brief History, Law

What is GHB

GHB, which stands for gammahydroxybutyrate, is an anaesthetic used to sedate patients before an operation. It's the drug that was implicated in the death of actor River Phoenix, and has, more recently, become popular in clubs, particularly on the gay scene. Like rohypnol, GHB is sometimes used to spike drinks.

Is it a sex drug?
It's claimed that GHB heightens sex drive, but this hasn't been proven. However, because of GHB's potential to lower inhibitions, users may become more sexually confident. In this event, everyone should make sure they're fully prepared to practise SAFE SEX.

The GHB effect

The effect takes between 10 minutes and an hour to come on, depending on the amount that's taken, the concentration and the person's body weight.

  • A small dose of GHB has a similar effect to alcohol. It lowers inhibitions and makes people more sociable, and even has a similar euphoric feeling to ecstasy.
  • If the dose is high, the euphoria gives way to powerful sedative effects, making people feel tired and "doped out".

The Law
GHB isn't controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act in the UK so it's not illegal to have it. However, because it's classed as a medicine, it's illegal to sell it or give it away without proper authorization.

Unknown quantity

This is very dangerous stuff because the concentration of the liquid varies from bottle to bottle. A bottle could contain 3 g, relatively little, or it could contain 20 g, a huge amount. It's virtually impossible to gauge the strength of the liquid so it's easy to overdose. The long-term effects of GHB aren't really known. NEVER top up.

The dangers will be increased if GHB is taken with other drugs, particularly depressants such as tranquillizers or alcohol.

Know the street names
If you swallow Liquid Gold (poppers) when you want Liquid X (GHB) you could end up in hospital. Be careful. Know what you're taking.


  • GHB is usually sold in bottles that contain about 40 ml of liquid.
  • It may appear as a powder, tablet or capsule.
  • It's swallowed and has a slightly salty taste.

Grievous bodily harm

As the dosage is increased you may begin to suffer the nastier side of GHB - that's why it has the street name GBH. It's likely that you'll:

  • feel sick and start to vomit
  • get stiff and painful muscles
  • feel disorientated
  • have fits (convulsions)
  • stop breathing and go into a coma.

If something goes wrong

Ease your friend's fall if you can. Clear a space around her so that she can't hurt herself. Loosen clothing around her neck and put something soft under her head. When the fit stops, put her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance.

  • If your friend is breathing, place him in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save his life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if he stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that he's still breathing.
Some users of GHB who went into a coma have made a full recovery, but only because they received medical help quickly.


Ecstasy: Brief History, Law

What is ecstasy?

The popular dance drug ecstasy is the chemical Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA for short. It leads a bit of a double life because it's a stimulant (a relative of speed), with hallucinogenic tendencies. Ecstasy is described as an empathogen as it releases mood-altering chemicals, such as serotonin and L-dopa, in the brain, and generates feelings of love and friendliness - people feel "loved up" and "blissed out". Because it's also a hallucinogen, the world becomes surreal, highly coloured and distorted. But ecstasy makes people nice, not nasty.

Ecstasy tablets come in different sizes and colours, and often have logos such as doves on them.

  • MDMA may be "cut" with other rubbish, such as dog-worming pills or talcum powder, to bulk out the tablet. Powerful drugs, such as amphetamine, ketamine (an anaesthetic) or selegaline (used to treat Parkinson's disease), are also added giving horrible unexpected side effects.
  • Even some "reliable brands" turn out to be fake; in fact only about one-third of all tablets sold contains enough MDMA for a "true" ecstasy experience. When different colour "doves" were analysed, one contained as little as 29 mg MDMA, another had as much as 170 mg, and one had none at all - it contained pure ketamine and was, therefore, very nasty.

Everything around you seems in perfect harmony...

The bits you might not like

A bad ecstasy experience is far from pleasurable:

  • your heart pounds, you feel sick and you might even throw up
  • you can become overstimulated, jumpy and panicky. Your arms and legs may stiffen, and you might clench your jaw and grind your teeth - your face aches the next day
  • you can start to hallucinate
  • dancing for hours makes you too hot; you lose salt as you sweat and your energy is sapped. You become dehydrated, which can lead to heatstroke
  • your memory may suddenly go. You become unco-ordinated and clumsy
  • as the effects wear off, you feel lifeless and your mood sinks
  • you may feel panicky, depressed and paranoid.

Brief history

Ecstasy (MDMA) was discovered as long ago as 1912 in the United States. It was first used as an appetite suppressant, but when it was found to calm feelings of anger, marriage guidance counsellors used it to get couples to talk to each other. In 1988 the rave scene became popular and ecstasy took on a new role as the main dance drug.

Your heart pounds...
You feel faint...

The ecstasy effect

After about 30 minutes the effects begin. They peak in an hour and last for 2-3 hours:

  • sensation is altered and the skin feels warm and tingly
  • life has never felt so good. Perception is keen - light and colours are brighter and sounds are exquisite
  • music seems louder and the beat more insistent - it seems to come from inside
  • energy levels rise so people want to leap around and dance all night
  • everybody loves everybody. People want to touch and hug, but not in a sexual way - everyone feels part of a huge, happy group.


The real dangers

Temperature control
Ecstasy interferes with the brain's thermostat, and your body temperature could rise well above normal. You may become delirious and start hallucinating, and you could develop heatstroke, which can kill you.

Brain swelling
Because you're so hot, you may drink too much water too quickly. This can cause the brain to swell, leading to unconsciousness and rapid death (within 12 hours).

Bad trip
The rush of brain chemicals can trigger nightmare hallucinations. If you ever take ecstasy again, they can come back. You may feel you've got superhuman powers and overestimate your ability to do dangerous things, such as leaping from a great height.

Brain damage
Ecstasy can interrupt blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke (yes, even in young people), resulting in paralysis, dementia (loss of memory and the ability to think clearly) and Parkinson's disease (when the body shakes and twitches uncontrollably).

Liver and kidney failure
If you're susceptible, one pill can cause fatal kidney and liver failure and there's no way of predicting whether or not this is likely until it's too late.

Life-threatening condition
A serious side effect, sometimes called sledging, can come on if you mix ecstasy with any other drug. It can happen the first time you take a tablet if you're susceptible. You feel freezing cold and shiver violently, you feel like you're going to die - and you might. You can't talk or move. You feel as though you're drifting into a sleep - from which you may never wake.

The Law

  • Ecstasy is a Class A drug, in the same category as heroin and cocaine. It's illegal to have, give away or sell.
  • You can be done for dealing even if you have just two pills on you.
  • You may receive a fine, a prison sentence or both, or you may be cautioned. It will depend upon your own personal circumstances, as well as on local police policies.

Side effects of long-term use
Ecstasy drains the brain of a chemical called serotonin that regulates how happy you feel. So if you pop pills every weekend it can affect your mood, sleep and memory for up to two weeks, and you may risk suffering from depression in later life.

The ecstasy family

Ecstasy (MDMA) belongs to a "family" of man-made drugs and its "relatives" are sometimes passed off as E. But they're different and you might get a shock if you take them expecting the usual effect of MDMA.

  • MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine), the parent drug, shares the amphetamine-like effects of ecstasy, but it's more hallucinogenic - more like acid - and lasts longer.
  • MDEA (methylenedioxyethylamphetamine), sometimes known as EVE, is ecstasy's sister drug. It's like ecstasy in effect, except you don't get the same warm feelings about life and everyone around you - those are unique to true MDMA.

The comedown

An ecstasy hangover is 10 times worse than an alcohol hangover

If you've had enough sleep, haven't smoked cannabis, haven't gone clubbing, danced all night or drunk alcohol, you stand a chance of feeling okay. However, your cheerful mood will have started to desert you on Day 2. By Day 3 you'll be feeling very low and irritable. You won't be feeling any better on Day 4. Only on Day 5 do you begin to recover your equilibrium.

  • If you have been clubbing and haven't had enough sleep then this comedown will be worse.
  • For some users, the low they experience after taking ecstasy is only relieved by repeating the cycle at the weekend, which means they're continually under the influence of E even if they only take it on Friday or Saturday night.

Precautions and warnings

Most recorded ecstasy deaths have happened because the tablet was not "pure" or because of a failure to counteract overheating correctly. It's tempting to drink too much water too quickly when trying to cool down, but it's better to keep sipping water slowly over a long period of time.

  • Sip around a half-pint of liquid every half an hour. High-energy sports drinks are best, then fruit juice or water.
  • Keep salt levels up by eating salted crisps or nuts.
  • Stay cool: don't wear a hat, take off some clothes if you're hot and take frequent rests in the chill-out room.
  • NEVER take another tablet. When the effect of one tablet is pleasant, the idea of taking another after a couple of hours may seem attractive but it's very dangerous. The body can't get rid of the ecstasy fast enough; the effects accelerate and are uncontrollable.
  • NEVER mix ecstasy with any other drugs, including alcohol.
  • Stay with friends and know where to go for help.


If something goes wrong

panic attack
If your friend becomes paranoid, anxious and starts to panic take her to a quiet room. Offer her a hot drink or some water, and keep talking to her. Don't let her wander off. If your friend begins panting (hyperventilating), get her to breathe normally by copying you.

Move your friend to a cool place and give him sips of high-energy sports drinks, fruit juice or water - don't let him drink too quickly. Splash cool water on his head if he's abnormally hot. Get medical help.

bad trip
Your friend may see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating. Reassure her that the things she can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend until the bad trip is over.

inability to speak or move
This may be the first sign of a life-threatening condition sometimes known as sledging. If your friend is also cold and begins to shiver violently, there is no time to lose. Keep your friend awake. Call an ambulance.

If your friend is breathing, place her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance.
Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save her life.
  • Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if she stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that she's still breathing.

DMT (dimethyltriptamine): Brief History, Effect

DMT (dimethyltriptamine) is an extremely powerful hallucinogenic drug found in certain tropical plants. Most street supplies are a home-made synthetic equivalent.


In its pure form, DMT is white, strong-smelling crystal, but on the street it's normally a light brown powder. The powder or crystals are usually smoked through a glass or metal pipe. The powder can also be eaten. If it's prepared from the plant, it will generally be greenish brown, thick sludgy liquid, which is difficult to swallow and then keep down. Raw leaves have no effect.

What you won't like

DMT is horrible. It gives an unpredictable, roller-coaster ride involving a mixture of feelings - euphoria, fear and insanity.

  • Once on the "trip", you can't get off it and it could feel like it's lasting for years.
  • If DMT is smoked, the risks of a bad trip are even greater than if it's eaten. Beyond that, the best way to describe the effects is to quote some people who've tried it: "There were snake-like things inside my legs, but at the time I didn't realize they were my legs", "I knew I was insane, and I doubted I would ever recover. I didn't even know what being sane meant. I couldn't remember what it was like to be normal"

The DMT effect

The effective amount is higher than the amount taken for an acid trip, say, but this doesn't mean the trip will be lightweight. Take an average quantity and the trip will walk all over any previous hallucinogenic experience.

  • If DMT is smoked, the effects hit hard in a matter of seconds. They'll peak after about five minutes, last for about 15 minutes and will be followed by a period of "cruise", similar to that experienced on a mild dose of acid.
  • If DMT is eaten, the effects take about 2-5 minutes, peak after about 15 minutes and stay at that level for an hour or more.
Words of advice

  • The DMT experience is very intense and not necessarily pleasant. The hallucinations are powerful and can be absolutely terrifying, and you can never really predict how you'll be affected. It doesn't seem to be as dependent on your mood as an acid trip - you might have a good experience one time and a totally horrific one the next. So if you take DMT, bear in mind the following: sit down or lie down when you take it - you'll almost certainly collapse if you're standing up
  • never take it, unless you're with someone you trust
  • choose a quiet, safe environment - a club is not the right place.

If something goes wrong

bad trip
Your friend may begin to see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating and it may cause your friend to panic. Talk to her and reassure her that the things she can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend until the bad trip is over - don't let her wander off alone.

  • If your friend is breathing, place him in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save his life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if he stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that he's still breathing.

Crack: Brief History, Law

Crack comes as crystals that look like small rocks. Some of the "pieces" look like grains of sand, although normally they're as much as 2 cm across. They vary in colour from pale yellow or pink, to white. Freebase is a fine white powder that looks a bit like icing sugar.

Crack is generally smoked. According to users the intensity of the hit can't be exaggerated; it comes within seconds, but it's short lived. For a few minutes, 15 at the most, crack gives:

  • an intense euphoria and elation, and a great surge of energy
  • an incredible sense of well-being and power. Of all the drugs on the street, crack packs the biggest punch.

Crack may take you straight up but in as little as five minutes, and rarely more than 15, the rush starts to wear off. Within 20 minutes of a crack hit the comedown begins:

  • you've got the shakes and are twitching uncontrollably
  • you're shivering as if you were in a deep-freeze
  • you're weak and tired
  • you're paranoid and depressed
  • you feel alone and threatened by those around you
  • you're irritable and AGGRESSIVE. And this comedown can last for days.

How low can you go?
  • Crack users say you can't begin to describe how awful the low is. It's not so much like jumping off a cliff as tumbling down a slope covered in broken glass.
  • Regular users feel the need to keep taking larger and larger amounts of crack to get even near the original hit.

Crack is cocaine that has been processed ("washed up") and it can be 80-100 per cent pure cocaine - much higher and therefore more dangerous than the 30-60 per cent purity of street cocaine. Crack vaporizes more quickly and enters the body faster than cocaine. It affects the body in the same way as cocaine, but to a far greater extent. Freebase is another rarer form of processed cocaine.

Just don't inject. Injecting doesn't give a bigger hit, and there's a real danger of overdosing or becoming infected with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C from shared needles and any other equipment used (the works).

Crack bender

Users have been known to smoke large amounts of crack every day for several weeks. Taking so much crack always leads to indescribable withdrawal symptoms, a hellish comedown and a real risk of death.

Crack is addictive

Crack has been labeled the "one hit and you're hooked" drug. This isn't strictly true, but the nature of the drug is such that if you try it, your chances of becoming addicted are higher than with ANY other drug. Your physical addiction is very powerful because crack gives you an intense high followed almost immediately by a terrible low - your body's response is to crave more. You can also become psychologically dependent and feel you can't face the world without the drug. But what you don't realize is that it's the crack that's making your life so unbearable. If you have a problem with crack, you MUST get professional help.

"Before you know it, crack takes over your mind. You're obsessed by it. You'll do anything for it."

On the rocks - crack's other nasty surprises
Long-term crack use - and that means weeks not years - can lead to lots of other problems.

Psychological problems
You feel intense aggression, hatred and distrust of other people, even friends and family. You become psychotic, delusional and violent, lose all contact with reality and are unable to judge any situation properly.

Social problems
Many users sell everything they own to fund their habit. Crack is expensive - $200 a day is nothing out of the ordinary. When there's nothing left to sell, crime may be the only option and a prison sentence the most likely outcome.

Complete isolation
When you're coming down you won't want to be with anyone and they won't want you. The isolation gets worse; life isn't worth living.

The Law

Crack is a Class A drug. It's illegal to have, sell or give to your friends and carries the highest level of penalties.
  • The penalty for possessing crack for your own use is a long prison sentence and an unlimited fine.
  • Possession with intent to supply (and there's no minimum amount) can lead to life imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Drug combinations
Crack is so powerful in its own right that using any drug alongside it is potentially lethal. Some users take heroin to ease the comedown. It's that bad.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cocaine: Brief History, Law

The cocaine found on the streets is a substance called cocaine hydrochloride. It's made by refining the leaves of the coca bush, which grows mainly in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that has similar properties to amphetamine. It was used for medicinal purposes as an over-the-counter "tonic" until it was found to be a dangerous drug; many of the people who'd taken it had become addicts.


Most street cocaine comes as a white crystalline powder that looks like very fine salt. It's usually bought in a "wrap" containing 1 g of powder, although no-one can know how much of that gram is actually cocaine. When the coca plant is processed, the cocaine powder is about 85 per cent pure, but by the time it's sold on the street it's nowhere near this level. As the batch passes from dealer to dealer, it's "cut" or watered down with sugars, such as glucose and lactose, or even anaesthetics. Although cocaine has been found in concentrations as high as 60 per cent, on the streets it's often as low as 30 per cent cocaine - the rest is rubbish.

Cocaine low

The payback for an instant, intense high is a sudden, deep low. It comes on fast and hits hard. You'll be tempted to beat this low by taking more cocaine. This will take you back up, but it won't be as intense and it won't last long. The next low, on the other hand, will be even deeper.

  • Even though the euphoria and confidence will have worn off, your brain will still be racing. You'll be unable to sleep and probably just become depressed, and even PARANOID.
  • You'll get to sleep eventually, but when you wake you'll feel tired and irritable. Just as the night before everything seemed to go your way, it now feels as if the whole world is against you.
  • You may start to feel panicky and threatened. If you've taken a large amount you could start acting strangely and violently

Felt in seconds, the effects rarely last more than half an hour. The strength depends on the potency of the cocaine, the setting in which it's taken, how often it's taken and the user's tolerance level.

  • There's a sense of euphoria and well-being.
  • Life looks rosy; stress and anxiety fall away.
  • Energy levels rise and people want to be active, chat, laugh and dance.
  • Everything said seems spot on: opinions, however outrageous, are just right and jokes seem incredibly funny, even when they're not.
  • Inhibitions go and some people feel sexually aroused.

Brief history

German scientists isolated the drug cocaine from the coca leaf in the mid-19th century. When Coca Cola was introduced in 1886, the average glass contained a few milligrams of cocaine, until it was replaced by caffeine in 1903. Cocaine was touted as an over-the-counter tonic throughout Europe and America, until its addictive properties became obvious. It was declared illegal in America in 1914.

The Law

Cocaine is a Class A drug and carries the highest penalties for possession, use and supply.

  • Simply being in possession of cocaine could mean a prison sentence and an unlimited fine.
  • Intent to supply or supplying cocaine could even lead to life imprisonment as well as a fine.


  • Most users divide the cocaine into "lines" with a razor blade or credit card. Then they sniff it up one nostril through a small tube, or through a rolled-up card or bank note.
  • Less dangerous than sniffing is to eat cocaine in small amounts mixed with food or drink; it will have an effect - it just takes longer.
  • Some people rub cocaine on their gums. Because cocaine is also a natural anaesthetic, this causes the gums to go numb.


A few users inject cocaine to get a faster and more intense hit but that's very dangerous. There's a risk of infection from shared needles and a real possibility of overdosing. If you overdose, the heart-rate speeds up to a dangerous level and the body can't cope. This leads to unconsciousness and rapid death.

Anyone thinking about taking cocaine needs to know the whole deal. Although physical addiction is rare, psychological dependence is a real possibility. As the good feeling wears off the bad feelings swamp you so you soon feel that you want to take more. Although another hit takes you back up, it only puts off the inevitable comedown and when it does eventually happen the crash is even worse. You'll then be tempted to take yet another dose and so on. You're now well on the way to psychological addiction and once you're on that road, it's very difficult to get off. With regular cocaine use psychological dependence can become extremely deep-rooted and difficult to treat.

Don't mix with other drugs

Mixing cocaine with other drugs, including alcohol, is extremely dangerous. Although you may get away with it a few times, you won't get away with it forever. If you get overconfident with cocaine, you'll regret it.

Speeding to disaster

When cocaine is mixed with heroin and injected it's called a speedball. This is a really bad idea because the two drugs worsen each other's effects. The heroin hides the unpleasant edginess of cocaine and lulls you into taking another dose of cocaine or heroin or both, increasing your chances of a lethal overdose.

Don't come down with downers

Some people take tranquillizers to get to sleep after a cocaine session - don't. Any mixture of depressants and stimulants is dangerous.

Cocaine rules your life

If you become an addict, you'll spend a lot of money supporting your habit. You'll become moody, unpredictable and generally unpleasant to be around. You'll be unable to do school work. On top of that, feeding such an expensive habit often leads to a life of crime.



Some people manage to only use cocaine occasionally; but if you're vulnerable in any way (shy, lacking confidence, low self-esteem) you risk quickly becoming dependent. Once addiction has set in, withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, panic attacks and paranoia. These can be extremely hard to overcome and often lead to users craving more cocaine. For some, suicide seems the only way out - sadly, many such suicides have been recorded. To kick cocaine, get professional help: phone the National Drugs Helpline.

Out of control

You'll think you're in control of cocaine, until you wake up one day and find it has you by the throat - by then it could already be too late.

If something goes wrong

panic attack

If your friend is paranoid, anxious and starts to panic, take her to a quiet room away from large groups of people and try to reassure her. Offer her a hot drink or some water, and keep talking to her. Don't let her wander off alone. If your friend begins panting (hyperventilating), get her to try to breathe normally by copying your breathing.


  • If your friend is breathing, place him in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell the medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save his life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if he stops breathing.
  • If your friend is sick while unconscious check that he's still breathing.

Cannabis: Brief History, Law



There are three forms of cannabis: herbal, resin and (the least common) hash oil.


  • The commonest form of cannabis, made from the dried leaves and flowers of the plant.
  • Looks like the kind of coarsely chopped dried herbs used for cooking. It's usually a greenish-brown colour and has a sweet herbal smell.
  • "Skunk" is a particularly potent strain that can have a markedly hallucinogenic effect.


  • Made by compressing the sap on the leaves and stem into blocks.
  • Colour varies from almost black through to a pale golden brown.
  • Some forms of resin are hard and brittle, like charcoal, while others are as soft as liquorice. Resin is usually mixed with tobacco in a hand-rolled cigarette but, like herbal, it can be eaten when added to foods.

Hash oil

  • Cannabis resin when dissolved in a solvent, filtered and allowed to evaporate, leaves a thick oil.
  • Varies in colour from black to green, and smells strongly of rotting vegetables.
  • It's either smeared on cigarette papers and smoked, but more usually it's mixed with tobacco and smoked.

The effect that cannabis has depends on how often it's smoked, how recently it was smoked and how the body naturally reacts to the drug. It can make people:

  • feel relaxed, happy and sociable, especially if they're with friends
  • become talkative and lead them to think they have a "deeper insight" into the world, but they're more likely to be talking drivel
  • lose their inhibitions and say and do things that are out of character
  • find everything hilarious; even the smallest thing will set off the giggles
  • get an attack of "the munchies" and want to eat lots of food, especially sweet snacks, such as chocolate or cake
  • have heightened sensations so that materials feel softer and colours appear brighter.

Most cannabis comes from a plant called Cannabis sativa that is mainly found in Asia and South America, although significant amounts are grown in North America and Europe. The most active chemical in cannabis - and the one that gets a person stoned - is called delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The amount of THC can vary greatly and cannabis that contains a high level can hit quite hard

The Law

  • It's illegal to have, grow, sell or give away cannabis.
  • While herbal cannabis and resin are Class B drugs, cannabis oil can be categorized as a Class A drug, depending on how it's produced, and therefore it attracts higher penalties.
  • NOTE: It's a popular myth that there's a set amount of cannabis that will ensure you just get off with a caution. However, if you're found with a small amount of cannabis for your own use, you may only receive a caution.

Brief history

There's evidence that people have been using cannabis for over 8000 years, mainly for medicinal purposes. Early civilizations saw cannabis as a possible cure for all kinds of ailments, from anxiety to leprosy. In the early 19th century, many pharmacies sold cannabis tinctures as over-the-counter treatments for pain; Queen Victoria's doctors gave her cannabis for her period pain. In the mid- to late 19th century, people began to use cannabis for pleasure - in fact, the drug was legal in the United States until the 1930s.

Crucial to the effect of cannabis is how people feel when they take it - the mood or "mind-set" - and where and with whom they take it - the setting. Cannabis often exaggerates the way a person already feels. So someone who is chatty, happy and confident may feel even more at ease. Conversely, someone who feels down and pensive may become more uncommunicative and depressed.


  • Most users smoke cannabis on its own or mixed with tobacco in a hand-rolled cigarette, known as a joint or spliff. The smoke is usually inhaled more deeply and held down for longer than with a normal cigarette. There's no filter to catch the tar and if you're not used to this you'll probably have a prolonged coughing fit.
  • Some people smoke cannabis in a pipe, called a "bhong", that cools the smoke before it's inhaled. Beware - using a bhong to smoke a stronger variety of cannabis may increase the effect and you could experience hallucinations and impaired judgement.
Some people add cannabis to foods, such as biscuits and brownies, to make hash-cakes or space-cakes. Beware of snacks at parties that may have been spiked with cannabis.

Don't mix cannabis with other drugs
Mixing cannabis with ecstasy or speed is particularly bad because it can make you dangerously dehydrated. Nasty side effects from using cannabis with other drugs include hallucinations, being unable to move, having a heart attack and losing consciousness.

  • You may feel sick, dizzy and faint and this can hit you on the first drag or the last one.
  • Your judgement will be impaired and you lose co-ordination.
  • You can feel too spaced out to speak.
  • Cannabis can dry you out, making your throat, tongue and lips parched; this is even worse if you drink alcohol as well.
  • Time seems to come to a standstill; minutes can seem like hours, which can be unnerving.
  • High doses, or even low doses of strong varieties, such as skunk, can lead to unpleasant hallucinations.
  • You may feel panic or paranoia. The panic may be so extreme that you literally can't speak or move. You can't remember what has happened; this can occur with quite small amounts

Cannabis and alcohol

It's a bad idea to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol. The combination will dry you out and make you very unsteady on your feet; it can even make you violent. You are also more likely to feel sick or even be sick, especially if you haven't had cannabis before. The hangover from cannabis and alcohol can be a near-death experience.

Cannabis stays in the body for far longer than alcohol - around two months.

  • You may feel sober long before the effects have worn off. For four or five days after, you shouldn't operate machinery or drive as you're likely to have an accident in this state.
  • Cannabis can trigger mental problems in people who may be predisposed to them.
  • Cannabis is risky for people with breathing problems, such as bronchitis and asthma. Two spliffs is the tar equivalent of 6-10 cigarettes.
  • Cannabis can lower a man's sperm count, and the sperm produced could be abnormal.
  • As with smoking normal cigarettes and drinking alcohol, women who use cannabis risk harming their unborn babies.
  • * Some long-term, heavy users may get panic attacks, exaggerated mood swings and feelings of persecution.


  • Cannabis isn't physically addictive. Your body won't crave it in the way that it would crave a drug such as heroin or tobacco.
  • BUT you may develop a "psychological habit" if you use cannabis often, becoming convinced that you can't do certain things until you've had a spliff.
  • Very heavy cannabis users may suffer psychological withdrawal symptoms; they may become anxious, even paranoid, and unable to sleep at night.
  • If you're a heavy user, cannabis can be a difficult drug to give up. If you're struggling to give up cannabis, you must get help. Contact your doctor or phone the National Drugs Helpline for advice.

There is so much conflicting information about cannabis. The scaremongers say it's dangerous, the pro-lobby say it's safe and beneficial. This profile will tell you THE TRUTH without the prejudices of different campaigners.

Does cannabis lead to harder drugs?

  • Hardly ever. There's no concrete evidence that cannabis is the "gateway drug". Tobacco is the gateway drug for most heavy drug users.
  • People who abuse hard drugs are usually psychologically damaged and probably would have escalated to hard drugs with or without cannabis.
  • It's probably true to say that people who use cannabis are more likely to be in situations where they'll be offered other types of drug.
Does cannabis cause memory loss?

Cannabis can cause short-term memory loss after long-term or heavy use.

Does cannabis cause cancer?

Because of its high tar content it's likely that smoking cannabis can cause cancer of the throat and lungs. This is, however, difficult to prove scientifically as most users who develop cancer also smoke cigarettes, and cigarette smoke is associated with several cancers.

Can cannabis be used to treat diseases?

It's very useful for treating Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Doctors prescribe a similar drug to treat MS, but sufferers don't find it as effective.

Does cannabis cause brain damage?

At the time of writing there is no conclusive medical evidence either way. No-one knows the long-term effects of taking cannabis repeatedly over a long period, but prolonged heavy use of any drug is always undesirable.

Don't hide from your problems

Some people use cannabis as a way to ignore their fears and failings. When they emerge from their cannabis haze, they find that their problems are not only still there but that they loom larger than ever. Becoming unmotivated is a real risk, and shouldn't be taken lightly. The only way to get through life is to face it, not turn your back on it.

If something goes wrong

If your friend needs to vomit, lean her forward so she doesn't choke. Give her some water once she's stopped vomiting, and make sure she gets home safely.

panic attack
If your friend is paranoid, anxious and starts to panic take him to a quiet room away from large groups of people and try to reassure him. Offer him some water, and keep talking to him. Don't let him wander off alone. If your friend begins panting (hyperventilating), get him to try to copy your breathing.

bad trip
Your friend may begin to see or hear frightening things that aren't really there - this is known as hallucinating. This can be extremely frightening and may cause your friend to panic. Talk to her and reassure her that the things she can see or hear are imaginary and will soon pass. Stay with your friend until the bad trip is over - don't let her wander off alone.