DRUGS & ALCOHOL 101
A Parent Resource, presented by Eric Munson, CPP, ICPS
This page contains details for the following drugs:
Ecstasy Facts (MDMA, XTC)
Street Terms: MDMA, Ecstasy, XTC, E, X, Beans, Adams, Hug Drug, Disco Biscuit, Go, Adam, hug, love drug, and more.
What is It?
MDMA, known as Ecstasy, is a chemical that is usually taken orally as a capsule or tablet. It is a man-made drug that is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens. It distorts the perception of time and the sense of touch. Taking Ecstasy causes chemical changes in the brain that affect your mood, appetite and sleep.
Ecstasy causes the excessive release of the important neurotransmitter, serotonin, which controls mood, sleep, pain, appetite, and other behaviors. By releasing large amounts of serotonin, Ecstasy causes the brain to become significantly depleted of this important neurotransmitter, which contributes to the negative behavioral problems (depression, sleep problems, etc) that users often experience for several days after taking Ecstasy.
||False sense of affection
|Long-lasting brain damage
||Degenerated nerve endings
- Sleep problems
- Severe anxiety
- Muscle tension
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Blurred vision
- Chills or sweating
- Dependence and withdrawal effects (fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble concentrating)
- Some problems can occur while or soon after taking the drug, others come days or weeks after taking Ecstasy.
Cocaine Facts (Blow, Crack)
Street Terms: Coke, snow, flake, blow, nose candy, snowball, tornado, wicky stick, Perico, Yayo
What is It?
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered form of cocaine is either snorted or injected. Crack is cocaine that comes in a rock crystal that is heated and smoked. The term "crack" refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated.
Many cocaine users report that they seek but fail to achieve the same experience as they had with their first use. Some users will increase their dose in an attempt to intensify and prolong the effect, but this can also increase the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects.
Cocaine can cause heart attacks even in young abusers.
Intense depression Edginess Eating problems
Increased heart rate Muscle spasms Convulsions
Paranoia Anger issues Hostility
Sleep deprivation Loss of appetite Psychotic
Hallucinations Tolerance Depression
Increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure / Headaches / Abdominal pain and nausea / Decreased appetite, resulting in malnutrition / Irritability, restlessness, anxiety, and paranoia / Paranoid psychosis (loss of touch with reality and auditory hallucinations) / Addiction or dependence / Loss of smell, nosebleeds, and a chronically runny nose (from snorting) / Severe bowel gangrene (intestine tissue dies) (from swallowing) / Increased risk of HIV and other diseases / Respiratory arrest (stopped breathing) / Heart attack or stroke which may cause sudden death / Cocaine and alcohol combined dramatically increases the risk of sudden death
Hallucinogens, LSD and PCP Facts
(Acid, Angel Dust)
Street Terms: (LSD) acid, blotter acid, window pane, dots, mellow yellow, lucy in the sky with diamonds (PCP) angel dust, ozone, rocket fuel, PCP, supergrass, killer weed, embalming fluid, wack, ozone
What is It?
Hallucinogens are strong mood-changing drugs with unpredictable psychological effects. LSD, or "acid," is sold as tablets, capsules, liquid, or on absorbent paper. PCP is illegally manufactured as tablets, capsules, or colored powder and can be snorted, smoked or eaten. Other hallucinogens can come in many forms, including plants and cough suppressants.
The effects of hallucinogens differ greatly from person to person, time to time, and from drug to drug. This is mainly due to the significant differences in strength, amount, and chemical makeup of active ingredients. Because of their unpredictable nature, the use of hallucinogens can be particularly dangerous. People who abuse PCP for long periods of time report memory loss, difficulties with speech and thinking, depression, and weight loss. These symptoms can persist up to a year after stopping PCP abuse. LSD has an unusual "echo." Many users have flashbacks — sudden repetitions of their LSD experiences — days or months after they stop using the drug. Hallucinogen-related deaths (with the possible exception of MDMA and PCP) often result from accidental injury or suicide from the uncontrolled actions and emotions caused by intoxication.
PCP is addictive, its repeated abuse can lead to craving and compulsive PCP-seeking behavior, despite severe adverse consequences.
PCP: Disturbing psychological effects / Delusions / Hallucinations / Paranoia / Anxiety / Addiction / Aggression / Sleeplessness / Flicking up and down of the eyes / Drooling / Loss of balance / Dizziness / Nausea and vomiting / Trembling / Loss of muscular coordination / Cirrhosis of the liver / Numbness of the extremities / Increased heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure / Profuse sweating / Memory loss / Difficulties with speech and thinking / Depression / Violent or suicidal acts / Seizures / Coma / Drug death / Death from accidents while high / These symptoms can persist up to a year after stopping PCP.
LSD: Feelings of extreme terror / Feeling several different emotions at once / Rapid changes from one emotion to another / Terrifying thoughts like losing control or fear of insanity or death / Feelings of despair / Delusions and visual hallucinations / Tolerance - having to take larger doses to get high which is extremely dangerous / Dilated pupils / Increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure / Profuse sweating / Loss of appetite / Sleeplessness / Dry mouth / Tremors / Flashbacks — sudden repetitions of their LSD experiences — days or months after they stop using the drug.
Heroin Facts (Smack)
Street Terms: Smack, thunder, hell dust, big H, nose drops, H, ska, junk, skag
What is It?
Heroin is a highly addictive white or brown powder or brown sticky tar made from opium poppies. Users may snort, smoke or inject it. Heroin is a depressant. It enters the brain, where it is converted to morphine and binds to receptors known as opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain that deal with pain but also within the brain stem — important for automatic processes critical for life, such as breathing, and blood pressure. Heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of respiration
Heroin withdrawal may occur within a few hours after the last time the drug is taken. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), and involuntary leg movements.
Slowed breathing Clouded mental functioning
Nausea/vomiting Sedation Drowsiness
Bad teeth Constipation Cold sweats
Itching Weakening of immune system Coma
Respiratory illnesses Muscular weakness Loss of memory
Warm flushing of the skin / Dry mouth / Heavy feeling in the extremities / Nausea / Vomiting / Severe itching / Clouded mental functions / Infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis (from injection needles) / Collapsed veins / Infection of the heart lining and valves / Abscesses at the injection location / Liver or kidney disease / Clogged blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage to vital organs / Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems (usually due to contaminants in injected heroin) / Fatal overdose - reduced heart rate and breathing, sometimes to the point of death
Methamphetamine Facts (Meth, Crystal Meth)
Street Terms: Speed, meth, crystal meth, chalk, ice, crystal, chalk, crank, tweak, uppers, black beauties, glass, biker's coffee, poor man's cocaine, chicken feed, shabu, crystal meth, stove top, trash, co-fast, yaba, yellow bam
What is It?
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly addictive synthetic chemical that acts as a stimulant. It is snorted, injected, smoked, or swallowed. Most of the methamphetamine abused in this country comes from foreign or domestic superlabs, although it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories, where its production endangers the people in the labs, their neighbors, and the environment.
Creating a sense of energy, meth can push the body faster and further than it's safe to go. It increases the heart rate, blood pressure, and the risk of stroke. Meth can kill you by causing overheating, convulsions, and coma.
False sense of well-being Increased energy
Physical and mental breakdown Decreased hunger
Sleep pattern issues Hyperactivity
Increased aggressiveness Irritability
Brian damage Memory loss
Liver, kidney, lung damage Malnutrition/Weight loss
Severe tooth decay Respiratory problems
Increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and hyperthermia (when the body overheats) / Unhealthy weight loss / Severe dental problems / Anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior / Psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects "Meth Bugs" creeping under the skin) / Severe "crash" after the effects wear off / Damage to blood vessels in the brain / Risk for acquiring HIV/AIDS for those that inject the drug, or those who engage in risky sexual behavior- sometimes associated with meth abuse. / Structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory / Addiction / Liver, kidney, and lung
Inhalants Facts (Whippets)
Street Terms: Whippets, poppers, snappers, air blast, moon gas, oz, poor man's pot, bolt, boppers, bullet rush, satan's secret, buzz bomb, shoot the breeze, snotballs, Texas shoe shine, highball, thrust, hippie crack, toilet water, huff, toncho, laughing gas, locker room, and more.
What is It?
Inhalants are volatile substances or fumes from products such as glue or paint thinner that are sniffed or "huffed" to cause a high. Inhalants affect the brain with great speed and force and keep oxygen from reaching the lungs. Animal and human research shows that most inhalants are extremely toxic. Perhaps the most significant toxic effect of chronic exposure to inhalants is widespread and long-lasting damage to the brain and other parts of the nervous system. The intoxication produced by inhalants usually lasts just a few minutes; therefore, users often try to extend the "high" by continuing to inhale repeatedly over several hours, which increases the risk.
In addition to these physical and mental health problems, recent research shows that inhalant use is associated with symptoms of depression. Between 2004 and 2006, an estimated 218,000 youths aged 12-17 used inhalants and also experienced depression in the past year. The same research showed that depressed teens were more than three times as likely to start using inhalants as teens with no symptoms of depression. The reverse is also true, showing that teens often started using inhalants before depression began.
"Huffing" concentrated amounts of chemicals from paint and gas can directly induce heart failure and death. Long term effects of chronic abuse include brain, liver, and kidney damage.
Research shows that inhalant use is associated with symptoms of depression. Research has shown that depressed teens are more than three times as likely to start using inhalants than teens with no symptoms of depression.
Drunk-like appearance Coordination problems
Hallucinations Slurred Speech
Impaired judgment Unconsciousness
Muscle weakness Disorientation
Lack of coordination Depression
Irritability Memory impairment
Hearing loss Death from heart failure
Slurred speech / Lack of coordination / Dizziness / Lightheadedness / Hallucinations / Delusions / Loss in control / Lingering headache / Confusion / Nausea or vomiting / Hypoxia (suffocation, asphyxiation) leading to brain or other organ damage / Muscle spasms and tremors/ Addiction / Liver, lung, and kidney problems / Muscle weakness / Prolonged abuse can negatively affect a person’s cognition, movement, vision, and hearing / Fatal injuries from falls / Death from choking on vomit / Heart attack from irregular or rapid heart beat / "Sudden sniffing death" (heart failure and immediate death, even with first time use)
GHB Facts (Liquid Ecstasy)
Street Terms: Liquid ecstasy, soap, scoop, easy lay, Georgia home boy, grievous bodily harm, liquid X, goop
What is It?
GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate or gammahydroxy-butyric acid) is a depressant that is usually available in odorless and tasteless liquid form. It can also be sold as a powder or pill. It takes effect 10-20 minutes after it is ingested and its effects typically last up to four hours.
GHB has been used in "date rape." It can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and has been added to beverages and ingested without the victim's knowledge. It can also cause anterograde amnesia (loss of memory), which makes it difficult for victims to recall what happened or identify his/her attacker.
Different amounts of GHB have different effects on people. In other words, no amount is safe.
Coma (at high doses) / Seizures / Nausea and breathing difficulties (when combined with alcohol or other drugs) / Poisoning / Overdose / Death (at high doses) / Addiction and withdrawal effects (including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating) / Assault or sexual assault "date rape" (due to the pills being colorless, tasteless, and odorless, they can be added to beverages to ingest unbeknownst to the victim, who becomes unable to defend him/herself because of the drug's effects) / Anterograde amnesia (inability to remember events experienced while under the influence of the drug)
Rohypnol Facts (Roofies)
Street Terms: R-2, Mexican Valium, roofies, circles
What is this?
Rohypnol, the trade name for flunitrazepam, has been a concern for the last few years because of its abuse as a "date rape" drug. In reference to date rape, this drug is most commonly referred to as a "roofie." People may unknowingly be given the drug that, when mixed with alcohol, can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. Also, Rohypnol can be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants.
Rohypnol produces sedative-hypnotic effects including muscle relaxation and amnesia; it can also produce dependence. Rohypnol started appearing in the United States in the early 1990s. It is a benzodiazepine (chemically similar to Valium or Xanax), but it is not approved for medical use in this country, and its importation is banned.
Rohypnol has been used to facilitate date rape. It can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault.
Decreased blood pressure / Drowsiness / Visual disturbances / Dizziness / Confusion / Stomach, intestine, and urinary problems / Physical dependence and addiction / Death, especially when mixed with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants / Anterograde amnesia, in which individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the influence of the drug / Assault or sexual assault (due to the user being in dangerous situations or not being able to defend him/herself because of the drug's effects)
Ketamine Facts (Super Acid)
Street Terms: Jet, Super acid, Special "K," Green, K, Cat Valium, Vitamin K, bump, honey oil, Super C
What is It?
Ketamine is an odorless, tasteless drug that is found in liquid, pill, and powder form. Ketamine was developed as an anesthetic for veterinarians to use on animals. Ketamine is classified as a type of disassociative drug. It alters the actions of the neurotransmitter glutamate throughout the brain. Glutamate is involved in perception of pain, responses to the environment, and memory.
Ketamine distorts sounds and sensations and makes users feel detached from reality. Some ketamine experiences involve a terrifying feeling of almost complete sensory detachment that is likened to a near-death experience sometimes referred to as "the K-hole."
Ketamine is odorless and tasteless and possesses amnesia-inducing properties, the drug is sometimes added to the beverage of unsuspecting victims and used in the commission of sexual assaults, referred to as "drug rape."
Ketamine is currently used in veterinary medicine and much of the ketamine sold on the street has been stolen or diverted from veterinarians.
Impaired senses, judgment (low doses), coordination, and motor coordination (high doses) / Hallucinations, delirium, and disconnection from surroundings (high doses) / High blood pressure (high doses) / Amnesia (high doses) / Vulnerable to sexual assault (due to loss of control) / Depression (high doses) / Fatal respiratory problems (high doses)
Steroids Facts (Roids)
Street Terms: Arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, roids, stackers, weight trainers, gear, juice
What Are They?
Anabolic ("muscle-building") steroids are man-made substances closely linked to the male hormone testosterone. These drugs are available by prescription only to treat certain medical conditions. They are only safe for use when taken under a doctor's care and supervision. Abuse of steroids — often in an attempt to gain more muscle mass — can lead to serious health problems, some of which are irreversible.
Many of the major effects of steroid abuse can occur due to hormone imbalances in the body. In males, adverse effects may include shrinking of the testicles and breast development. In females, adverse effects may include growth of facial hair, menstrual changes and deepened voice.
Additionally, steroids can make you hostile, violent, and angry for no reason. You can experience uncontrollable outbursts of frustration and combativeness often referred to as "roid rage."
Steroids have disfiguring effects-severe acne, greasy hair, and baldness (in both guys and girls).
Severe acne / Male-pattern baldness / Liver cysts / Oily hair and skin Stunted growth when used during adolescence / Paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility / Shrinking of the testicles and breast development in males / Facial hair growth, menstrual changes, deepened voice in females / Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke
Street Names: Brand names include Blizzard, Blue Silk, Charge+, Ivory Snow, Ivory Wave, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Knight and White Lightning
What is It?
Though the name may sound harmless, bath salts contain dangerous synthetic stimulants that carry the risk of easy overdose, hallucinations and even death. A synthetic stimulant, typically in the form of a white or brown crystalline powder, that contains one or more chemicals that are physically similar to amphetamines and MDMA (ecstasy), but whose effects on the human brain are not fully known yet.1 Because the drug is new and some of the contents unknown, using Bath Salts in any way is highly dangerous.2
There have been reports of a surge in visits to emergency rooms and poison control centers linked to Bath Salts. Their full risks and effects are still unknown, but commonly reported reactions include rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pains, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, aggressive behaviors, and delusions.2 Bath salts have also been fatal in several instances.1
Bath salts are a relatively new drug, so it’s hard to know the full range of long-term effects, but they seem to have many similarities to methamphetamine (meth). Taking a lot of it for a long time can lead to emotional and physical “crash-like” feelings of depression, anxiety and intense cravings for more of the drug.
Street Names: Magic mushrooms, shrooms, caps, boomers
What is It?
The active chemical in hallucinogenic mushrooms is called psilocybin. This chemical is found in approximately 190 species of edible mushrooms.
Mushrooms work by disrupting how your nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin interact throughout the brain and spinal cord. By changing the normal functioning of serotonin in the brain, mushrooms distort the way you process information and can make you hallucinate.
When you hallucinate, it becomes difficult to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. You may see, feel and hear things that don’t exist. You can also have rapid and intense emotional mood swings. This shift in perception can be frightening. It can cause panic attacks and psychosis (a complete loss of contact with reality). In this state of mind, it’s easy for unexpected and dangerous – or even fatal – accidents to happen.
Suddenly and without warning, a few days or even a year later, the brain can produce flashbacks: feelings and thoughts that replay the effects of being on the drug. And because mushrooms disturb the normal functioning of the brain, it’s important to note that some long-term effects like psychiatric illness and impaired memory have been reported.
Street Names: K2, fake marijuana, Blaze, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks
What is It?
Synthetic marijuana – or spice – can result in brain alterations similar to the real thing, but with the added danger that many of its chemical components and other ingredients are often unknown. Spice is a mildly hallucinogenic mix of dried plant material that is laced with synthetic cannabinoids (chemicals similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana).1 But because the chemical composition of many products sold as spice is unknown, it can contain substances that could cause dramatically different effects than the user might expect.1
When it comes to spice, you really don’t know what exactly is in the mix—many different ingredients have been found that have a high potential for abuse.1 The inconsistency and variability of ingredients can lead to unexpected harm to your body and brain.2 People taken to emergency rooms or Poison Control Centers have symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion and hallucinations. The drug has also been linked to acute kidney injuries, which left untreated, can lead the kidneys to shut down.3
Filling your body with unknown substances can have severe consequences. New risks have continued to emerge – including signs of withdrawal and addiction – however, it’s not yet known how the synthetic cannabinoids and other ingredients in spice may affect you down the line.