All drugs, legal or illegal, are substances that can affect the way the body functions either physically or psychologically. Psychoactive drugs affect the central nervous system and may distort mood, thinking or behaviour. These drug types are divided into three categories which are:
Depressants: drugs that slow down the central nervous system and reduce messages between the brain and the body, which results in people finding it difficult to concentrate and respond to external stimuli. These drugs include opioids (heroin).
General side effects of depressants include: sedative effect, somnolence, cognitive/ memory impairment, dissociation, muscle relaxation, drop in blood pressure, respiratory depressant, anti-convulsive effects and euphoria & possibly addiction.
Stimulants: drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and speed up messages between the brain and the body, which results in increased energy/heart rate and appetite. These type of drugs include cocaine and MDMA/ecstasy.
General side effects of stimulants: short term effects including feeling of intense happiness, increase in energy and improved attention. However, they can also cause an increased heart rate (tachycardia); increased blood pressure (hypertension) and possible cardiac damage; increase in body temperature (hyperthermia); muscle agitation; suppression of appetite that can lead to weight loss; sexual dysfunction; gastrointestinal problems; exhaustion and headaches.
Hallucinogens: drugs that can alter an individual’s perception of their world. These drugs can change the way an individual sees, hears, smells or feels different things. These types of drugs include for example ketamine.
General side effects of hallucinogens include: increased heart rate; nausea; change in sense of time; increased blood pressure, respiratory rate and body temperature; reduced appetite and potential weight loss; dry mouth; sleep problems; detachment from reality; uncoordinated movements; panic; paranoia; excess sweating; memory loss; anxiety depression or suicidal ideation; disorganised thinking; visual disturbances and mood change and /or flashbacks.
Not all drugs are illegal, although legal drugs can still be harmful. However, some drugs are deemed as dangerous and are placed under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which means they are forbidden by law. This Act was implemented to prevent drug misuse. These drugs are placed in one of three categories (A to C), with category A being deemed as the most dangerous drugs.
The class in which a drug is placed will determine the criminal penalty attached to that drug, but possession, manufacture or selling of any drugs within all classifications can lead to a criminal record and a potential prison sentence.
Class A drugs include: Heroin (diamorphine), cocaine, methadone, LSD and magic mushrooms
Class B drugs include: Amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis and synthetic cannabinols
Class C drugs include: Benzodiazepines, GHB/GBL, Ketamine, anabolic steroids, piperozines.
For a full list of drugs and all the related terms, see http://www.talktofrank.com/drugs-a-z
Apart from being illegal, taking these drugs can cause physical and/or mental health problems in the short and potentially long term.
If you know someone is in a bad way and losing consciousness through drugs or alcohol, put them in the recovery position and call 999.