Drug Awareness

Drug Awareness

Common Street Drugs

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in Canada and the United States and tends to be the first illegal drug teens use.

The physical effects of marijuana use, particularly on developing adolescents, can be acute. New studies have indicated that adolescents that use marijuana are 4 times more likely to develop schizophrenia. Marijuana is also 18-25% more powerful than the marijuana used in the 60’s and 70’s.

Short-term effects of using marijuana:

  • sleepiness
  • difficulty keeping track of time, impaired or reduced short-term memory
  • reduced ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination, such as driving a car
  • increased heart rate
  • potential cardiac dangers for those with preexisting heart disease
  • bloodshot eyes
  • dry mouth and throat
  • decreased social inhibitions
  • paranoia, hallucinations

Long-term effects of using marijuana:

  • enhanced cancer risk
  • decrease in testosterone levels for men; also lower sperm counts and difficulty having children
  • increase in testosterone levels for women; also increased risk of infertility
  • diminished or extinguished sexual pleasure
  • psychological dependence requiring more of the drug to get the same effect

Marijuana blocks the messages going to your brain and alters your perceptions and emotions, vision, hearing, and coordination.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug chemically related to amphetamine but with stronger effects on the central nervous system. Street names for the drug include "speed," "meth," and "crank."

Methamphetamine is used in pill form or in powdered form by snorting or injecting. Crystallized methamphetamine known as "ice," "crystal," or "glass," can be smoked and more powerful form of the drug.

The effects of methamphetamine use include:

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • increased wakefulness; insomnia
  • increased physical activity
  • decreased appetite
  • respiratory problems
  • extreme anorexia
  • hyperthermia, convulsions, and cardiovascular problems, which can lead to death
  • euphoria
  • irritability, confusion, tremors
  • anxiety, paranoia, or violent behavior
  • can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, producing strokes

Methamphetamine users who inject the drug and share needles are at risk for acquiring HIV/AIDS.

Methamphetamine is an increasingly popular drug at raves (all night dancing parties), and as part of a number of drugs used by college-aged students. Marijuana and alcohol are commonly listed as additional drugs of abuse among methamphetamine treatment admissions. Most of the methamphetamine-related deaths (92%) reported in 1994 involved methamphetamine in combination with at least one other drug, most often alcohol (30%), heroin (23%), or cocaine (21%).

Cocaine is a white powder that comes from the leaves of the South American coca plant. Cocaine is either "snorted" through the nasal passages or injected intravenously. Cocaine belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants, which tend to give a temporary illusion of limitless power and energy that leave the user feeling depressed, edgy, and craving more.

Crack is a smokable form of cocaine that has been chemically altered.

Cocaine and crack are highly addictive. This addiction can erode physical and mental health and can become so strong that these drugs dominate all aspects of an addict's life.

Physical risks associated with using any amount of cocaine and crack:

  • increases in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature
  • heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory failure
  • hepatitis or AIDS through shared needles
  • brain seizures
  • reduction of the body's ability to resist and combat infection

Psychological risks:

  • violent, erratic, or paranoid behavior
  • hallucinations and "coke bugs"--a sensation of imaginary insects crawling over the skin
  • confusion, anxiety and depression, loss of interest in food or sex
  • "cocaine psychosis"--losing touch with reality, loss of interest in friends, family, sports, hobbies, and other activities

Some users spend hundred or thousands of dollars on cocaine and crack each week and will do anything to support their habit. Many turn to drug selling, prostitution, or other crimes.

Cocaine and crack use has been a contributing factor in a number of drownings, car crashes, falls, burns, and suicides.

Cocaine and crack addicts often become unable to function sexually.

Even first time users may experience seizures or heart attacks, which can be fatal.

Hallucinogenic drugs are substances that distort the perception of objective reality. The most well-known hallucinogens include phencyclidine, otherwise known as PCP, angel dust, or love-boat; lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD or acid; mescaline and peyote; and psilocybin, or "magic" mushrooms.

Under the influence of hallucinogens, the senses of direction, distance, and time become disoriented. These drugs can produce unpredictable, erratic, and violent behavior in users that sometimes leads to serious injuries and death. The effect of hallucinogens can last for 12 hours.

LSD produces tolerance, so that users who take the drug repeatedly must take higher and higher doses in order to achieve the same state of intoxication. This is extremely dangerous, given the unpredictability of the drug, and can result in increased risk of convulsions, coma, heart and lung failure, and even death.

Physical risks associated with using hallucinogens:

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • sleeplessness and tremors
  • lack of muscular coordination
  • sparse, mangled, and incoherent speech
  • decreased awareness of touch and pain that can result in self-inflicted injuries
  • convulsions
  • coma; heart and lung failure

Psychological risks associated with using hallucinogens:

  • a sense of distance and estrangement
  • depression, anxiety, and paranoia
  • violent behavior
  • confusion, suspicion, and loss of control
  • flashbacks
  • behavior similar to schizophrenic psychosis
  • catatonic syndrome whereby the user becomes mute, lethargic, disoriented, and makes meaningless repetitive movements

Everyone reacts differently to hallucinogens--there's no way to predict if you can avoid a "bad trip."

Inhalants refer to substances that are sniffed or huffed to give the user an immediate head rush or high. They include a diverse group of chemicals that are found in consumer products such as aerosols and cleaning solvents. Inhalant use can cause a number of physical and emotional problems, and even one-time use can result in death.

Using inhalants even one time can put you at risk for:

  • sudden death
  • suffocation
  • visual hallucinations and severe mood swings
  • numbness and tingling of the hands and feet

Prolonged use can result in:

  • headache, muscle weakness, abdominal pain
  • decrease or loss of sense of smell
  • nausea and nosebleeds
  • hepatitis
  • violent behaviors
  • irregular heartbeat
  • liver, lung, and kidney impairment
  • irreversible brain damage
  • nervous system damage
  • dangerous chemical imbalances in the body
  • involuntary passing of urine and feces

Short-term effects of inhalants include:

  • heart palpitations
  • breathing difficulty
  • dizziness
  • headaches

Remember, using inhalants, even one time, can kill you. According to medical experts, death can occur in at least five ways:

  1. asphyxia--solvent gases can significantly limit available oxygen in the air, causing breathing to stop;
  2. suffocation--typically seen with inhalant users who use bags;
  3. choking on vomit;
  4. careless behaviors in potentially dangerous settings; and
  5. sudden sniffing death syndrome, presumably from cardiac arrest.


Get the Dope on Dope

Drugs are more dangerous now than ever before.

High school students are increasingly involved with drugs. Certain drugs that were believed to have become less attractive and popular are returning in more potent forms. Marijuana is one of them. Youths feel they know a lot about marijuana but it has become a more powerful and damaging drug. It used to be considered a less serious substance. Many have even pushed to legalize it. But the truth is the marijuana being used by youth and adults today is more potent, and it is still illegal. The medical community is also becoming increasingly aware of the damaging side effects of marijuana use. High school students may be under many misconceptions about marijuana. Youths of this age need to know that the use of all drugs is illegal. They also need to know that what others say about a certain substance may not be accurate and they need to get accurate information about it.

Warning Signs

Warning Signs of Substance Abuse:
1. Loss of interest in activities, significant drop in school or work performance, lack of motivation and enthusiasm.
2. Personality changes. An, "I don't care" attitude, irritability, hostility, paranoia, over-reaction to criticism, secretiveness, drop in normal family warmth.
3. Change in personal habits, values and friends; friends who won't identify themselves.
4. Physical decline: weight loss, neglect of appearance, acting intoxicated, pale complexion, change in vitality and sleep patterns.
5. Reduced memory, concentration and attention span.
6. Smell of marijuana (sweet, brunt odor) in room, on clothes, etc. or attempt to disguise it with cigarettes, beer, room deodorizer, incense, etc. Visine for red eyes.
7. Physical evidence: roach (butt) or roach holder (clip) from a joint, rolling papers, seeds or leaves, pipes or "bongs," devices for hiding the "stash," such as cans with false bottoms, other drug paraphernalia and magazines.
8. Disappearances of items of value or money from home, unexplained drain on finances; items missing from medicine cabinet.