About Drugs


Marijuana is a plant indigenous to Asia, and is commonly consumed in three forms:

  • ~ Hashish the resin of the plant usually reddish brown to black in colour
  • ~ Ganja refers to the leaves and stem, and is usually greenish in colour
  • ~ Bhang a dark brown or black preparation of marijuana leaves and flowers and other additives such as herbs and spices

Common Terms and Definitions:

  • ~ Hashish is also known as hemp, hash, charas, cream, Malana cream, Afghan snow, Kasa, Bombay Black
  • ~ Other terms for Ganja are pot, grass, dope, Mary Jane, weed, blunt, herb
  • ~ Spliff: Marijuana cigarette
  • ~ Bong: Water pipe for smoking
  • ~ Joint / Bob: Marijuana cigarette made of rolling paper
  • ~ Ganga-Jamuna: Marijuana-hash combination

How is it Consumed? Bhang is usually eaten or mixed with a cold drink of milk and dry fruits. Hashish and ganja are crushed and mixed with tobacco. The mixture is rolled in a cigarette and smoked.

Visible Signs

  • ~ Bloodshot eyes
  • ~ Extreme form of anxiety or fear
  • ~ Uncontrollable bouts of laughter
  • ~ Lack of clear and orderly thought or behaviour
  • ~ Sluggish speech
  • ~ Eating binges
  • ~ Peculiar herbal smell in hair, clothes, or in the area where the drug was consumed
  • ~ Presence of marijuana seeds, smoking devices (chillums and bongs), smoking paper, 'roaches' (rolled-up cardboard to create an artificial filter)

Health Risks

  • ~ It is estimated that one marijuana cigarette is equivalent to five tobacco cigarettes in terms of damage to the body.
  • ~ A marijuana abuser risks all the dangers of smoking and many more, including brain damage, infertility, and loss of memory.
  • ~ Marijuana is a gateway drug, which means that prolonged abuse of marijuana leads to a higher tolerance to the drug, resulting in the abuser trying dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine.


Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a popular party drug, which is extremely potent even in small quantities. This odourless, tasteless, and colourless drug can induce strong hallucinations where the user sees different colours and has strange experiences.

Common Terms and Definitions: Acid, stamp, Lucy, sunshine, microdots

How is it Consumed? LSD is usually licked or swallowed. It is sold as tablets, capsules, or in its liquid form added to sugar cubes, postage stamps, 'windowpanes' (gelatine or cellophane), blotters (small pieces of paper).

Visible Signs

  • High body temperature
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Increased heart beat and blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite

Health Risks

  • The worst effect of LSD is what is known as a 'bad trip' in which users develop extreme forms of paranoia and fear.
  • 'Flashback' or a sudden recurrence of the user's experience can trigger traumatic or strange experiences, even after many hours or months of abstaining from the drug.
  • Fatal accidents can occur with LSD usage, especially while driving.
  • Schizophrenia and severe depression may occur with long-term use.


Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca plant. It is usually a white crystalline powder. Crack, a cheaper form of cocaine, is even more addictive and dangerous than cocaine. Even a single dose is enough to trigger addiction. Cocaine abusers typically develop a tolerance to the drug, and take in higher doses to maintain the same high.

Common Terms and Definitions: Coke, namak (salt in Hindi), coca, flake, snow, heaven dust, crack

How is it Consumed? Cocaine is either snorted or dissolved in a liquid and then injected. Some also mix cocaine with cannabis and tobacco and smoke it.

Visible Signs

  • Fast speech or talkativeness
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Panic
  • Runny or bloody nose
  • Restlessness, irritability, sleeplessness
  • Bouts of high energy followed by exhaustion

Health Risks

  • Seizure, cardiac arrest, respiratory problems that can lead to death
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe paranoia
  • HIV and other diseases resulting from infected needles


Heroin is a highly addictive derivative of morphine, an extract from the poppy plant. In its purest form, it is a white powder but can also be brown in colour because of the presence of impurities. However, heroin is never sold in its pure form, and is often mixed with talcum powder, starch, sugar, powdered milk, or quinine. As the drug is adulterated, it is difficult to determine the actual dose of heroin, which can be fatal.

After just few hours or days of the last administration, withdrawal symptoms such as intense craving for the drug, restlessness, pain, sleeplessness, vomiting, and kicking can be seen in the average heroin abuser.

Common Terms and Definitions: Smack, horse, junk, H, Skag

How is it Consumed? A tin foil containing heroin powder is heated underneath. This results in the solid powder turning into a liquid. Users either inhale the fumes or inject the liquid. Heroin is also smoked.

Visible Signs

The heroin addict typically rushes to the bathroom in the morning for his morning dose. Heroin abuse also often causes constipation, leading to prolonged use of the bathroom. Here are other visible signs of heroin abuse:

  • • Runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, chills
  • • Mental confusion
  • • Staggered gait
  • • Lack of hygiene
  • • Poor appetite
  • • Vomiting
  • • Scratch marks
  • • Pupil dilation
  • • Calmness (when high) and restlessness (when not high)

Health Risks

  • • Coma
  • • Death
  • • HIV and other diseases resulting from infected needles
  • • Collapsed veins
  • • Infections

Other Drugs

Identifying a drug abuser is not easy because there are several drugs with different effects and health risks. Some drugs are available for research, medical, and other legal uses, but are often abused. If you spot any suspicious behaviour in your child, do not panic, but consult a qualified medical professional with experience in drug abuse treatment. A few other commonly abused groups of drugs include:

  • • Opiods: Opium and morphine, along with heroin, belong to the group of drugs derived from the poppy plant.
  • • Hallucinogens: In addition to ecstasy, drugs like mescaline and psilocybin are often used to induce altered states of perception.
  • • Inhalants: Paint thinners, petrol, gases (butane, propane, and laughing gas) are easily available but highly dangerous, causing death within seconds. Every year, several teenagers accidentally inhale these substances, with some developing an addiction over time.


Effects of alcohol

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It's important to be careful when taking any type of drug. Alcohol affects everyone differently, based on:

  • • Size, weight and health
  • • Whether the person is used to taking it
  • • Whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • • The amount drunk
  • • The strength of the drink

The following effects may be experienced:

  • • Feeling relaxed
  • • Trouble concentrating
  • • Slower reflexes
  • • Increased confidence
  • • Feeling happier or sadder, depending on your mood1,2

If a lot of alcohol is consumed the following may also be experienced:

  • • Confusion
  • • Blurred vision
  • • Clumsiness
  • • Memory loss
  • • Nausea, vomiting
  • • Passing out
  • • Coma
  • • Death1,2,3


The following day, the effects of a hangover may be experienced including:

  • • Headache
  • • Diarrhoea and nausea
  • • Tiredness and trembling
  • • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • • Dry mouth and eyes
  • • Trouble concentrating
  • • Anxiety
  • • Restless sleep4,5

Long term effects

Regular use of alcohol may eventually cause:

  • • Regular colds or flu
  • • Difficulty getting an erection (males)
  • • Depression
  • • Poor memory and brain damage
  • • Difficulty having children (males and females)
  • • Liver disease
  • • Cancer
  • • High blood pressure and heart disease
  • • Needing to drink more to get the same effect
  • • Dependence on alcohol
  • • Financial, work and social problems5


Giving up alcohol after drinking it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Please seek advice from a health professional.

Withdrawal symptoms usually start about 4 to 12 hours after the last drink and can last for about 4 to 5 days. These symptoms can include:

  • • Sweating
  • • Tremors
  • • Nausea
  • • Anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping
  • • Seizures or fits
  • • Delusions and hallucinations
  • • Death



There is no safe way to get 'high' through inhaling volatile substances - solvents. Anyone abusing volatile substances puts themselves at risk of death which can happen on first time use, or after frequent use. When mixing with other drugs including alcohol the risks may be increased.


The effects can vary from one person to another so it is difficult to predict the effects on the individual; a high can last anything from a few minutes to just over half an hour. Mild hangovers or headaches can occur after the immediate effects wear off.

Short and long term effects

When they are inhaled, gases, solvents and aerosols have an almost immediate effect. The substances, which are soluble in body fat, enter the blood stream directly from the lungs and they rapidly reach the brain and other organs. They have a depressant effect on the user’s central nervous system; depression or aggressiveness are frequently mentioned as linked to excessive use.

When high from Solvent Abuse, effects may include slurred speech, the inability to co-ordinate movements, euphoria, dizziness, lethargy. Nausea and vomiting are also common side effects during or shortly after use and users have reported suffering from sneezing, coughing, nose bleeds, tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

VSA can also cause altered perception, anaesthesia - loss of sensation and unconsciousness, disorientation, hallucinations and delusions.

Anecdotal evidence

Although there is no published research to correlate it, both regular and long term users have reported suffering from slurred speech, slower reactions and other physical and mental health issues whilst they are using, which even when they stop using don’t go away; some users confirm that any side effects stop once they discontinue their Solvent Abuse - VSA.

Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome (SSDS)

The highly concentrated chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can induce irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to fatal heart failure within minutes of a session of prolonged sniffing. This syndrome known as ‘sudden sniffing death’ is responsible for most Solvent Abuse - VSA deaths and can result from a single session of Solvent Abuse - VSA, by say an otherwise healthy person. > The direct toxic effect of inhaled volatile chemicals can cause the heart to beat irregularly and anything that might cause a sudden rush of adrenaline (like becoming excited or frightened or perhaps someone disturbing them) can stop the heart from pumping blood with death resulting in minutes. Defibrillation - an electric shock to the heart to re-establish normal heart rhythms - needs to be carried out within around nine minutes, however this is by no means guaranteed to be successful.


By suffocation or asphyxiation (choking) from repeated inhalations that lead to high concentrations of inhaled fumes, which displace available oxygen in the lungs or from air being prevented from entering the lungs because the user may have been using a bag or mask over their nose and mouth. Poppers if swallowed can be fatal and new research suggests that in some cases inhaling poppers can also be responsible for causing permanent eye damage.

Convulsions or Seizures

From abnormal electrical discharges in the brain.


From the brain shutting down all but the most vital functions.


From inhalation of vomit after Solvent Abuse - VSA.

Fatal injury

From hallucinations, accidents - including motor vehicle fatalities whilst intoxicated.