How illegal drugs affect you

In contrast to prescription drugs, illegal drugs are not manufactured in controlled environments under strict standards of quality. In other words, you never know what quality and quantity you are really getting, or with what cheaper poison an unscrupulous dealer may have diluted the drug.

Some of the side effects of illegal drugs could actually limit your ability to have the ‘good time’ you might have thought the drug was going to provide. The side-effects multiply, compound and can cause permanent damage the more frequently you take the drugs. Side effects inlcude:

  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • panic attacks
  • nausea
  • shaking
  • headache
  • schizophrenic and psychotic behaviour
  • hostile and aggressive behaviour
  • violence, often for no apparent reason
  • periods of severe mental and emotional disturbance, and possible permanent mental illness
  • potentially permanent damage to brain, liver, kidneys and heart.

The highly addictive characteristics of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and various amphetamine compounds may take away any control you have over the continuation of self-inflicted damage. The cost of feeding an inevitable addiction that regular use will cause, may mean you find yourself involved in serious crime, facing a lengthy jail term, and dealing with serious health problems including permanent mental illness, the risks of communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, and overdosing. You might also lose the support of your family and friends along the way.

Illegal drugs generally fall under three main categories:

Prescription drugs can also fall under these categories. When prescribed by your doctor and used in accordance with the doctor’s instructions, these drugs are legal. When stolen or fraudulently obtained, the possession, distribution or use of these drugs becomes illegal.

One common example is benzodiazepines (for example, Valium, Serepax, Mogadon, Temazepam – with street names like downers and slow). Other examples are barbiturates (for example, varieties of sleeping pills) and synthetic derivates of narcotic analgesics (often varieties of very strong painkillers).


Examples include:

  • heroin and other opium derivatives (with street names like smack, scag, horse, and hammer)
  • cannabis – (three main forms are marijuana, hashish and hash oil – with street names like grass, pot, hash, weed, reefer, dope, herb, mull, buddha, ganja, joint, stick, and cones)
  • GHB – Gamma hydroxy butyrate (with street names like grievous bodily harm, scoop, water and everclear)

These drugs slow down (or depress) the activity in all parts of the central nervous system.


Examples include:

  • amphetamines (with street names like speed, up, fast, go-ee, whiz, pep pills and uppers)
  • cocaine (with street names like C, coke, flake, nose candy, snow, dust, white, white lady, toot, crack, rock, and freebase)
  • methylamphetamines (street names include crystal meth and ice)

These drugs stimulate or excite (make faster) the central nervous system.


Examples include:

  • lysergic acid diethylamide (with street names like LSD, acid and trips)
  • magic mushrooms (active ingredient psilocybin – street names like gold tops and blue meanies)
  • MDMA (with street names like ecstasy, E, XTC, eccy and the love drug)
  • phencyclidine (street names like angel dust and PCP)

These drugs alter your perception (or sense of reality) and this may result in experiencing hallucinations.

Synthetic drugs

Examples include:

  • Synthetic cannabinoids (with street names like Kronic, Spice, Kaos, Voodoo, Mango)
  • Mephedrone (4-MMC) (with brand names like miaow-miaow, bubbles and meph)

The synthetic substances are chemically similar to and/or mimic the effects or are variants of prohibited drugs, including cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine. In recent years a variety of synthetic substances have been made available on the internet and sold in specialised shops. Synthetic substances can take the form of dried shredded material containing chemical additives, pills, liquid or powder or crystal form. These substances are often labelled ‘not for human consumption’.