Effects of common drugs

Cannabis (hash, pot, dope, weed, grass, skunk, marijuana):

  • may cause relaxation and altered perception
  • can lead to increased heart rate and low blood pressure
  • can make you feel relaxed and happy, but can also cause lethargy, anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis in extreme cases. A history or family history of mental illness may increase the possibility of more extreme psychotic reactions
  • is linked to mental health problems such as schizophrenia and, when smoked, to lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and lung, throat, mouth and tongue cancer
  • affects how your brain works. Regular use can make it hard for you to concentrate, learn and retain information
  • reduces your fertility
  • when mixed with tobacco, is likely to increase the risk of heart disease and lung cancer.

Cocaine (powder cocaine, coke, blow, Charlie, crack):

  • gives you increased energy
  • makes you feel happy, awake, confident and less inhibited, but has a nasty 'come down' that makes you feel depressed and unwell. (Using depressant drugs to help with the severity of come downs can increase the chances of the development of negative cycles of dependence.)
  • can overstimulate the heart and nervous system and lead to a seizure, brain haemorrhage, stroke or heart attack (people have died from cocaine-induced heart failure)
  • reduces your pain perception and may result in injury
  • carries greater risk if mixed with alcohol or other stimulants, especially if you have high blood pressure or if you have an existing heart condition
  • can harm your baby during pregnancy, and may cause miscarriage
  • can increase the risk of mental health issues such a s anxiety, paranoia and psychosis
  • if snorted, can cause damage to the lining of the nasal passage and nose
  • if injected, can cause vein collapse and increased risk of HIV and hepatitis infection.

Mephedrone (meow meow, m-cat, plant food, bubble, meph):

  • can induce feelings of happiness, euphoria and confidence, but can also cause anxiety and paranoia
  • causes vomiting, sweating and headaches in some users
  • can overstimulate your heart and nervous system
  • can cause periods of insomnia
  • can lead to fits and agitated and hallucinatory states
  • if used in large amounts, can cause tingling of the hands and feet, seizure and respiratory failure
  • has been linked to a number of deaths
  • if injected, can cause vein collapse and increases the risk of HIV and hepatitis infection.

Ecstasy (MDMA, pills, E, eckies):

  • can make you feel alert, warm and chatty
  • can make sounds and colours seem more intense
  • may cause anxiety, confusion, paranoia and even psychosis
  • is linked (in cases of long-term use) to memory loss, depression and anxiety
  • can lead to overheating and dehydration
  • tends to stop your body producing enough urine, so your body retains fluid.

Speed (amphetamine, billy, whizz):

  • can make you feel alert, confident and energetic
  • can reduce appetite
  • may make you agitated and aggressive
  • may cause confusion, paranoia and even psychosis
  • can make you very depressed and lethargic for hours or days, when used a lot
  • can cause high blood pressure and heart attacks
  • is more risky if mixed with alcohol, or if you have blood pressure or heart problems
  • puts you at risk of overdose, vein and tissue damage, and infectious disease (such as hepatitis C and HIV), if you inject speed.

Ice (crystal meth, shabu, crystal, glass, shard, P):

  • may create feelings of pleasure and confidence
  • can make you feel alert and energetic
  • can cause you to repeat simple things like itching and scratching
  • can cause enlarged or dilated pupils and a dry mouth
  • may make you grind your teeth
  • can cause excessive sweat
  • can increase your heart rate and breathing
  • may reduce your appetite
  • may increase your sex drive
  • puts you at risk of infectious diseases (such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV) if you inject it
  • can damage your nasal passages and cause nose bleeds if you snort it.

Effects of a 'come down'

A 'come down' is your body's reaction to the substances that you have taken, after the initial reaction. In other words, it is the after effect.

How long it lasts, and how bad it is, depends on the type of drug (stimulant or depressant) and your age, sex and tolerance.

Common after effects are flatness, depression and exhaustion. Or you may feel:
  • shaky, dizzy, sweaty
  • headachey
  • nauseous
  • fatigued
  • not hungry
  • sleepy or unable to sleep.