Drugs

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Are you aware of the different types of drugs, their risks and the law?

Substance misuse is an issue that can seriously affect communities, harm families and waste lives. This section gives you more information about what types of illegal drugs are out there. Remember that drug use is never totally safe so you should know what you're up against.

Below we talk about cannabis, ecstacy, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, foxy methoxy, BZP, chrystal meth, ketamine and PCP.

Cannabis

Cannabis is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world and comes in many different forms. Hash or solids are cannabis resin and come as a dark brown solid lump. Weed is pieces of dried plant and looks a bit like dried herbs. Some varieties of cannabis are more potent and these are often referred to as skunk.

Why do people like using cannabis?

It makes people feel chilled out, giggly, talkative and relaxed. All your senses are heightened meaning that food tastes amazing and music sounds brilliant. You might lose track of time, and find yourself vegging on the sofa for a few hours.

What are the risks?

It can leave you feeling anxious, paranoid and make it feel difficult to concentrate. If you are a heavy smoker of cannabis you could end up feeling like you are in a permanent brain fog. It's also really bad for your lungs and leaves you at risk of mouth and lung cancer, heart disease and bronchitis.

In a very small minority of people, dope can trigger serious mental illness. It is best to avoid it if you have a family history of schizophrenia or similar illnesses.

What's the law?

Cannabis is an illegal class B drug. The maximum penalty for possession is five years in prison. For supply you can get 14 years in prison. You can get an unlimited fine for both.

Ecstacy

Ecstacy is the most common drug found in clubs. It comes as capsules or tablets of all different shapes, sizes and colours or occasionally it comes as a white powder.

Ecstasy is the name given to a drug called MDMA. Different ecstasy tablets contain different amounts of MDMA, if any at all. This has a huge influence on the nature and strength of the effects so taking ecstacy is always a bit of a gamble.

Why do people like using ecstacy?

Ecstacy makes you feel energised, chatty and confident. Sound, colour and emotions can seem much more intense and you'll have loads of energy to dance.

What are the risks?

At its worst ecstacy can give you a really bad time. It has different effects on different people. Don't take E if you don't feel comfortable and safe with the crowd you're in. It can make you anxious, frightened, paranoid and even give you full blown hallucinations.

The day after you've taken it you'll also feel flat, washed out and tired. Some people get a low that lasts several days.

And it can get worse. The problem with ecstacy is that you can never be sure exactly what it is that you're taking. If you're allergic to anything that's in it, it could make you seriously ill or even kill you. It also puts a big strain on your heart, liver and kidneys. Some people have died when these vital organs have failed.

What's the law?

E is an illegal class A drug. The maximum penalty for possession is 7 years in prison. For supply it's life in prison. You can get an unlimited fine for both.

Amphetamines or 'speed'

Amphetamines are a group of manmade stimulant drugs that speed up your whole mind and body. The most common street speed is amphetamine sulphate which comes as a white, grey, yellow, pink or reddish powder. It usually then snorted, rubbed on the gums, dissolved in liquid for drinking, or swallowed in pill form. A few people inject it which is especially dangerous.

It's the most impure illegal drug available in the UK - it can be heavily cut with paracetamol, baby milk powder, talcum or other substances, so it's unlikely you'll know exactly what you're taking.

Why do people like taking amphetamines?

It makes you feel confident, energised and chatty. You'll also lose you appetite.

What are the risks?

Long term use can really screw up your head. You'll be at risk of mood swings, paranoia and anxious depression. Speed can also trigger heart attacks and epileptic fits in anyone who is prone to them. People have even died from overdosing.

It's also easy to build up a tolerance to the drug and so you'll have to take more and more to get the same effect.

What's the law?

All un-prescribed amphetamines are illegal Class B drugs but carry Class A penalties if prepared for injection. The maximum sentence for possession is 7 years in prison. For supply it goes up to 14 years in prison. All sentences can come with an unlimited fine.

Cocaine

Coke is a white powder that comes from the Coca plant.

It is usually snorted but can be injected, swallowed or made into a smokeable drug known as crack.

Cocaine has similar effects to speed but is more expensive and doesn't last as long. When its snorted it will have worn off in an hour or less.

Why do people like taking cocaine?

Cocaine makes you feel alert, exhilarated and really confident.

What are the risks?

Cocaine is really addictive. You can develop a tolerance to coke over one night so you end up needing more of it to get the same effect.

Snorting coke can damage your nose. Long term it can give you serious heart and breathing problems.

It can also leave you feeling depressed, edgy, tired and paranoid. Some people can even experience muscle twitching, rapid pulse, nausea, high blood pressure, cold sweats, and mood changes.

What's the law?

Cocaine is an illegal class A drug. The maximum penalty for possession is 14 years in prison. For supply it's life in prison. You can get an unlimited fine for both.

Heroin

Heroin is a very powerful painkilling drug. It's usually sold in the form of a brownish-white powder which users snort, smoke or prepare for injection. It has a reputation for being one of the most addictive drugs in the world.

Why do people like taking heroin?

The first time people use heroin, they usually feel sick, dizzy and sleepy. But after using it a couple of times your body starts to get used to it. Then it makes you feel warm, happy, confident, cosy and content. It can make you feel like you don't have any worries or pain.

What are the risks?

Heroin is really addictive so it's easy to let the habit spiral out of control. Once addicted, people get very bad withdrawal systems and can experience weakness, sweating, shivering, skin crawling, achey bones, watery eyes, runny stomach and feelings of despair and depression.

Injecting heroin also leaves users at risk of dangerous infections like HIV, hepatitis and gangrene if they're sharing needles.

When users try to kick the habit, they can experience a period of diarrhoea, insomnia, vomiting, hot and cold sweats, and cramps.

What's the law?

Heroin is an illegal class A drug. The maximum penalty for possession is 7 years in prison. For supply it's life in prison. You can get an unlimited fine for both.

LSD

LSD is the original psychedelic drug. Those that take it experience a 'trip'; seeing and feeling things that aren't really there. It usually comes in tiny dot-like tablets or small squares of blotting paper that are called tabs of acid. The effects can last for eight to 12 hours depending on the strength of the drug, the user's mood, their location and surroundings.

Why do people like taking LSD?

Colours and sounds seem really intense and you will probably see sparkly trails following moving objects. It gives users the feeling of being in a dream with some people having full blown hallucinations.

What are the risks?

Once the trip starts, there's no way of stopping it until the effects subside. Bad trips can be terrifying and seem very real, like being in a nightmare when you're awake. People can experience dizziness, disorientation, fear, paranoia and even panic. A bad trip can leave users feeling really shaken for a long time afterwards. Some people can experience 'flashbacks' months or years later. This is like reliving moments of the trip all over again which can be really scary. LSD can also make existing psychological problems worse such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

What's the law?

LSD is an illegal Class A drug. The maximum penalty for possession is 7 years in prison and life for supply. You can get an unlimited fine for both.

Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms are hallucinogenic that grow outside. They can be eaten raw, dried, cooked in food or stewed in tea. There are several different sorts of magic mushroom. The snag is that unless you know a bit about mushrooms you can't tell what's a magic mushroom and what's a poisonous one.

Why do people like taking magic mushrooms?

Magic mushrooms produce similar effects to LSD, but the trip tends to be shorter and milder. At lower doses people tend to feel giggly, excited or relaxed (spaced-out). In higher doses hallucinations can occur, meaning users experience things that aren't really there. They're also free as they grow wild.

What are the risks?

As with any psychedelic drugs you can get a bad trip meaning there's no going back until the effects have worn off, which can be quite scary. Eating them can also cause stomach pains, nausea and vomiting. Like any hallucinogen, magic mushrooms can complicate existing mental problems. People who eat the wrong kind of mushrooms can get seriously ill and even die.

What's the law?

Magic Mushrooms are an illegal Class A drug. The maximum penalty for possession is 7 years in prison and life for supply. You can get an unlimited fine for both.

Foxy methoxy

Foxy is a man-made hallucinogenic drug that's mainly used in the club scene. It changes the way you see the world similar to the effects of magic mushrooms.

It comes in the form of a brownish-white powder that is usually packed into capsules or pressed into tablets, sometimes coloured. It can be swallowed, snorted or smoked and it tastes horrible.

Why do people like taking foxy methoxy?

Foxy gives users a mild trip. Senses are heightened so colours become more vivid, your skin becomes sensitive to touch and texture and sound can be amplified or distorted. Users can feel really energetic, extra chatty and have big round eyes. Some people find that it increases their sex drive as well.

What are the risks?

Like other psychedelic drugs, it can give you a bad trip which is really scary. Once you've panicked on foxy, it is hard to calm down until the effects of the drug have worn off, and that takes 3-6 hours. It can enhance any emotional or mental problems that you may be dealing with and can also give people violent diarrhoea and sickness.

People build up a resistance to the effects of foxy very quickly so next time they take it, they more of it to get high. A few people have died after taking huge doses of foxy.

It's also relatively new on the scene so the long-term risks are not well known.

BZP

BZP is a man-made stimulant drug that makes users feel really alert. Occasionally it comes in its pure form as an off-white powder or a slightly yellow liquid. More often, it is combined with similar chemicals called piperazines, and pressed into pep pills which can come in all shapes, sizes and colours. The effects can last for 4-8 hours.

Why do people like taking BZP?

BZP gives people a rush of tingling all over the skin, leaving them feeling alert, bright-eyed and cheerful. Pep pills are more floaty and euphoric than BZP.

What are the risks?

Most people feel headachey, tired, washed out and perhaps a bit sick the next day. It can leave you feeling anxious with sleep being impossible. This can last for 24 hours afterwards. Food is also a total turn off.

It can over-stimulate the brain and lead to epileptic fits or seizures in people who have never had them before.

BZP is touted as a safe, herbal drug. Remember it is not herbal, it is 100% man-made and quite new on the drugs scene so it's effects are not really understood in the long term.

What's the law?

BZP is a Class C drug. Possession can mean a prison sentence of two years. Supplying can mean a sentence of 14 years. Both punishments can also mean an unlimited fine.

Chrystal Meth

Crystal Meth is a very powerful form of speed and the effects can last anywhere from 2 to 20 hours. It is hugely addictive and has ruined lots of lives and relationships.

Crystal meth usually comes in ice-like crystal chunks or in a coarse powdered form. It's made from a highly volatile combination of substances, which can include household cleaning products. It can be eaten, snorted, injected or smoked.

Why do people like taking chrystal meth?

It produces a rush similar to crack but the effects of it last much longer. It gives users sharpened attention and a sense of euphoria.

What are the risks?

During the effects people can feel aggressive, anxious, paranoid, experience increased heart rate and breathing and being unable to sleep.

The day after taking it you will get a real comedown effect where you feel flat and washed out. This gets worse the more you take it. It's also really addictive, especially if you smoke it or inject it. This is a dangerous drug that can seriously affect your health, relationships and life.

What's the law?

Crystal Meth is an illegal class A drug. The maximum penalty for possession is 7 years in prison. For supply it's life in prison. You can get an unlimited fine for both.

Ketamine

Ketamine is an anaesthetic with painkilling and hallucinogenic properties. It comes in as a powder but is often made into tablets or liquids for injecting. The drug is intended to be used by vets as a sedative and anaesthetic.

Why do people like taking ketamine?

Ketamine gives users an out-of-body experience. In small doses it makes people feel floaty and dreamy. Larger doses can result in hallucinations. Some people describe feeling like they've entered another level of consciousness or crossed into another world.

What are the risks?

After taking it people can be left feeling sick or wobbly.

Some people experience temporary paralysis, being unable to move, walk or tal and yet you feel fully awake. This can be really frightening. Due to this numbing effect, users run the risk of serious injury without even realising they've been hurt.

Taking it with other drugs, especially alcohol is really dangerous.

Regular use can lead to increased tolerance where you need more and more to get the same effect. Eventually it can lead to serious breathing problems, heart failure or very serious mental health problems. People have lost touch with reality altogether as a result of this drug.

What's the law?

Ketamine is an illegal Class C drug. The maximum penalty for possession is 2 years in prison and 14 for supply. You can get an unlimited fine for both.

PCP

PCP is a strong hallucinogenic drug that alters reality. It's sold as a white crystalline powder which can be prepared for injection, sniffing, smoking or swallowing. A liquid form, commonly called embalming fluid, can also be found.

Why do people like taking PCP?

PCP can give feelings of dreaminess, floating and mild hallucinations. It's also common to experience a loss in perception of time and space, like you're in a dream while being awake.

What are the risks?

PCP is famous for giving bad trips even in low doses. It can make people feel paranoid, anxious and aggressive and can lead to severe psychological trauma.

Worryingly, many users have freaked out and tried to self mutilate and even commit suicide with people being known to leap to their deaths and drown in pools. It can also result in respiratory arrest, kidney failure, convulsions and even death.

What's the law?

PCP is an illegal Class A drug. It carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment for possession and up to life in prison for supply.

For further information click here: http://www.kent.gov.uk/health_and_wellbeing/substance_misuse.aspx

For Kent Drug & Alcohol Action Team click here: http://kdaat.co.uk/

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