I have experimented with almost every kind of drug, and worked and lived alongside many drug addicts.
Discover the slang/street names and paraphernalia used by users. Learn about the drug highs, comedowns and withdrawal symptoms, and how addictive -- and how dangerous each drug is. As well as clues to find out if someone you know is taking a particular drug.
- Spice/Synthetic Cannabinoids
- LSD/Acid/Magic Mushrooms
- Crack cocaine
Cannabis - Marijuana
“The majority of recreational drug users can lead a normal life, regardless of what drug they are taking.”
How to Tell if Someone is on Cannabis - Marijuana
Introduction: The primary active ingredient in cannabis is THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol) which makes users get high. Cannabis comes in two types. 1, the green plant varieties and 2, the darker brown and black varieties are known as hashish or black. The 'hashish' type is made from the resin of the cannabis plant. Hashish looks like chocolate and comes in various shades of colours depending on its variety and the country it originated from can be light brown to dark black and be very soft, to very hard in their consistency.
How do you get high on cannabis? It can be smoked in rolling papers with or without tobacco (unless it's hashish). * Smoked in a bong and in a dry herb vaporiser. * Cannabis (green or black) can be used to make cakes (space cakes), cookies and other foods and drinks.
Cannabis slang/street names: Green herbal cannabis names. Marijuana. Herbs. Spliff. Weed. Bush. Pot. Dope. Greens. Skunk. Jazz (jazz-funk/skunk) Bob (Bob Hope/Dope). Hashish cannabis names: Dope. Solids. Rocky. Soap bar (because it is made and is shipped/trafficked in a soap bar shape before being cut into smaller pieces for distribution/dealing). There are many types of hashish from many countries - typically Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are many types of cannabis from many countries - typically Jamaica (sensimilla) and Thailand (Thai weed) and Skunk, originally from Amsterdam.
Cannabis paraphernalia - Items to look out for: Cannabis. Rolling papers. Vaporiser. Lighter. Grinder (to turn buds into loose weed for easy rolling). Bongs. Pipes. Bucket (for bucket bongs)
The effects and highs of cannabis - behaviour to observe: Stoned and happy feeling. * Chilled, relaxed and carefree. * Forgetfulness. * The whites of the eyes turn red (not all users). * Slurred speech (especially when very stoned). * Lethargic. * Sleeping in. * For newer users, laughing uncontrollably at anything. * The munchies (desire to eat). * Dark circles under the eyes.
The comedown of cannabis - withdrawal symptoms: Tiredness. Grumpy. Agitated.
How addictive is cannabis? Cannabis is more of a mental addiction than physical. Cannabis can be very easy to quit. For others, quitting is not so easy - old habits can die hard. However, no-one will become physically or mentally unwell after quitting cannabis.
How dangerous is cannabis? Cannabis is the least dangerous drug. For some users, it can have no effect. Many regular users can function normally and does not affect their lives in any way.
More clues to find out if someone you know is taking cannabis: (aside from above, look for the following). Black burned knifes (used to cut hard black hashish). * Under-eye dark circles * Check the contents of discarded roll-ups for small green or light brown to dark black small lumps or dust. * The shape of their cannabis joint will be coned-shape and longer than a regular roll-up, plus, when observing people smoking cannabis, they will hold the smoke in for longer when inhaling, compared to smoking a regular roll-up or cigarette. * Users will conceal the potent smell on their breath by sucking mints and/or brushing or eating toothpaste. * To disguise the strong smells, air fresheners and the constant use of Joshua sticks are commonly used.
Cannabis smokers are more Ilkley to wear clothing or hats with the cannabis leaf design on them.
Interesting cannabis facts: Rastafarians are legally allowed to possess and smoke cannabis in Italy due to it being part of their religion. + Cannabis is the most widely used drug.
Spice - Synthetic Cannabinoids
“Men are always more likely to take and abuse drugs compared to women.”
How to Tell if Someone is on Spice - Synthetic Cannabinoids
Introduction: Although spice may appear to resemble cannabis, it is a very different drug altogether. Spice is a mixture of dried leaves and man-made chemicals that try to simulate the effects of cannabis. Spice has become very popular for homeless people and prisoners because it blocks out all the bad things in life - is easily accessible, stronger and cheaper than regular natural cannabis.
How do you get high on spice? It can be smoked in rolling papers with tobacco or smoked pure. * Smoked in a bong, bucket, and in a 'dry herb' vaporiser. * Snorted. * Injected * Spice can also be used to make cakes, cookies and other foods and drinks.
Spice slang/street names: Mamba. (Black mamba) Fake weed. K2. K47. Arizona. Bombay Blue. Banana Cream Nuke, Pina Colada White Ice, and many more.
Spice paraphernalia - Items to look out for: Rolling papers. Vaporiser. Grinder to turn buds into loose weed for easy rolling. Bongs. Pipes. Bucket (for bucket bongs).
The effects and highs of spice - behaviour to observe. The effects of spice can be very similar to cannabis. However, some chemical varieties can turn users into zombies. Others experience hallucinations, psychotic episodes, seizures and oblivious to their surroundings. Some users can become aggressive and experience psychotic episodes.
The comedown of spice - withdrawal symptoms: Include anxiety, sweating, headaches, depression and inability to sleep.
How addictive is spice? Spice can be highly addictive. Users can feel physically sick, tired and desperate for their next smoke.
How dangerous is spice? Spice is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Death rates are extremely high due to sudden heart attacks, strokes and organ failures. Spice can also affect the central nervous system. Cause pulmonary problems such as respiratory problems, depression and cause users to have uncontrollable fits and render them unconscious. Other users will experience involuntary fits and become extremely aggressive.
More clues to find out if someone you know is taking spice: (aside from above, look for the following), The shape of a spice joint is coned-shape, unlike a regular roll-up. * Check the contents of discarded roll-ups for small green lumps or dust (which can be similar-looking to natural cannabis). * When observing people smoking spice, they will hold the smoke in for longer, compared to smoking just a regular tobacco roll-up or cigarette. * To disguise the strong smells, air fresheners and the constant use of Joshua sticks are commonly used. * Users will conceal the potent smell on their breath by sucking mints and/or brushing or eating toothpaste.
Interesting spice facts: When a country makes the chemical compounds of spice illegal, new legal synthetic cannabinoids are created which make it legal again. + Synthetic cannabinoid products are often labelled 'not for human consumption.
Speed - Amphetamines
“People who inject drugs will have a higher risk of developing and/or contracting blood infections, abscesses, skin inflammation, hepatitis B and C, HIV and AIDS”.
How to Tell if Someone is on Amphetamines - Speed
Introduction: Amphetamine, also called speed is a stimulant (upper). Its colour can be white to light pink. Amphetamine should not be confused with crystal meth 'methylamphetamine' or methamphetamine.
How do you get high on amphetamine? Speed can be smoked, snorted. Placed in rolling papers and eaten (known as bombing). Rubbed on gums. Added to liquids and drunk, and Injected.
Amphetamine street/slang names: Billy (Billy Whiz) - because users do everything quickly. Sulph, uppers and dexies.
Amphetamine paraphernalia - Items to look out for: Black underside of spoons. Needles. Rolling papers & tobacco.
The effects and highs of amphetamine - behaviour to observe: Dilated pupils. * Slight euphoric feeling. * Talking and doing things very quickly. * Hard to stay motionless. * No desire and unable to sleep. * Highly active, alert, focused and talkative. * More hyperactive and energetic than usual.
The comedown of amphetamine - withdrawal symptoms: Mood swings, depression, agitated. Unable to concentrate properly. Paranoia. Irritability.
How addictive is amphetamine? The longer the use, the higher the addiction and the psychological and physical craving for more.
How dangerous is amphetamine? An increase in heart rate and blood pressure can cause medical problems including brain damage, stroke and death. Overdosing is quite rare compared to heroin but still a reality.
More clues to find out if someone you know is taking amphetamines. (aside from above, look for the following). Needles. * Bags/packets of white power. * Needle marks on arms or legs. * small square pieces of paper (bindle/wraps) * This drug tastes bitter and is gritty in texture compared to cocaine.
Interesting amphetamine facts: It was developed in the 1800s and first used for medical purposes in the 1920s to dilate the bronchial sacs of the lungs and help those who suffer from asthma breathe easier — then used in various pharmacological formulations. + Some users take this drug, solely to help lose weight.
LSD (Acid) Magic Mushrooms
“The differences between a users high and comedown will depend on which drug was taken, how much was taken, and individual sensitivities to drug effects.”
How to Tell if Someone is on LSD - Acid - Magic Mushrooms
Introduction: LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), also known as acid, is a hallucinogenic drug that comes in a natural form of mushrooms (A psilocybin mushroom) aka, 'magic mushrooms' and the chemical (man-made) 'acid form' which is a tiny piece of cardboard laced with acid (acid tab). LSD is a powerful substance that can lead to some amazing inspirational ideas and experiences, and also extremely frightening experiences.
How do you get high on LSD? The mushrooms and acid tabs are both taken orally. Acid tabs are swallowed, and the raw mushrooms can be either chewed thoroughly and eaten, or drunk by making tea from the dried mushrooms.
LSD's slang/street names: Tabs (acid tabs) Microdots. Shrooms (mushrooms)
LSD's paraphernalia - items to look out for: Acid tabs and magic mushrooms.
The effects and highs of LSD - behaviour to observe: Extremely large (dilated) pupils. * Increased heart rate and blood pressure. * Energetic and excited. * Muscle twitches, sweating and loss of appetite.
The comedown of LSD - withdrawal symptoms: Depression, fatigue and feeling low. More psychological than physical.
How addictive is LSD? It is not addictive.
How dangerous is LSD? LSD is a harmless drug, but can be dangerous if someone is experiencing a 'bad trip'. For example, users will become confused and agitated if they think they can see things (hallucinations) that are not really there. Including the walls closing in on them or monsters trying to attack them, which cause users to panic and become extremely anxious and frightened.
More clues to find out if someone you know is taking LSD: (aside from above, look for the following). Extremely large (dilated) pupils. * Acting very strange.
Interesting LSD facts: Apple founder Steve Jobs said, "Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life." + The song I am The Walrus, by the Beatles was inspired by LSD.
“Most drug users are on a combination of drugs, resulting in a different high's, side effects and symptoms.”
How to Tell if Someone is on Ecstasy
Introduction: Ecstasy - MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) commonly known as ecstasy (the love drug) is a psychoactive drug primarily used by party-goers (ravers). However, you don't have to go raving or to parties to enjoy ecstasy. Many people take this drug because of its euphoric feeling.
How do you get high on ecstasy? Pills are swallowed, Some users will crush the pill, then mix with water to inject. Other users will crush the pills and snort.
Ecstasy slang names: E's. Letters. Jack and Jill's (pills) Sweets. Candy. Smarties.
Ecstasy paraphernalia - items to look out for: While under the influence of ecstasy, users tend to grind their teeth, so pacifiers including babies dummies are often used by ravers. Users will have very large pupils.
Ecstasy effects/highs - behaviour to observe: Extremely large (dilated) pupils. Happy, smiling, immense euphoric feeling and more confident than usual. * Teeth clenching/grinding. * Sweating. * Wanting to dance at the sound of any music. * Increased heart rate, heavy sweating and an increase in body temperature.
The comedown of ecstasy - withdrawal symptoms: The comedown is not too bad, as long as users have cannabis or sleeping pills to help counteract the comedown and help sleep.
How addictive is ecstasy? Ecstasy is one of the most euphoric feelings anyone can experience from taking drugs (aside from crack). However, it's one of the least addictive drugs.
How dangerous is ecstasy? Ecstasy is not dangerous as such, but can kill, especially if the pills have been tarnished or mixed/laced with dangerous substances (filler agents) including bath salts, rat poison and a dangerous form of amphetamine known as PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) which is associated with overdoses and death — or users have an adverse reaction. The increase in body temperature and heart rate can cause users to die of heatstroke (hyperthermia). 100% pure MDMA is less likely to kill users, providing they keep hydrated. The only way you'll know what ingredients are in an ecstasy pill is by buying from a reputable source and/or having it tested by 'free testing services' offered at some raves and concert events or by using 'online ecstasy testing services'. Injecting ecstasy is the most dangerous and can cause various medical problems including abscesses, blood poisoning and death.
More clues to find out if someone you know is taking ecstasy: (aside from above, look for the following). Large (dilated) pupils. * Ecstasy pills are very fragile and brittle compared to other types of pills and medications. * Ecstasy pills will taste bitter, compared to other pharmaceutical pills. * Ecstasy pills are not coated, as are professionally coated pills during manufacturing * Ecstasy users tend to grind their teeth, so pacifiers are used, so look out for babies dummies on a string.
Interesting ecstasy facts: If used correctly, ecstasy (MDMA) has been shown to help people with PTSD, anxiety, and other serious medical problems. + American singer Lady Gaga said, “A Little MDMA never killed anybody” (How wrong she was!)
“Opioids have killed the most people. They are a class of drugs that include heroin, fentanyl, and pain relievers, such as oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine and many others.
How to Tell if Someone is on Cocaine
Introduction: Cocaine (coke) is a stimulant (upper) and is extracted from the leaf of the Erythroxylon coca plant.
How do you get high on cocaine? Cocaine can be snorted (tooted), rubbed around the mouth, smoked in rolling papers with tobacco, and also injected.
Cocaine slang/street names: Coke. White. Base. Snow. Dust.
Cocaine paraphernalia - items to look out for: Snorting cocaine; Rolled-up money notes. Straws cut in half. Razor blades (used to turn lumps into dust to snort) Smoking cocaine; tobacco. Rolling papers. Injecting cocaine; needles.
The effects and highs of cocaine - behaviour to observe: Feeling on top of the world. * Confident, positive and more out-going than usual. * Constantly sniffing and rubbing the nose. * Some users can become aggressive and over-confident/cocky.
The comedown of cocaine - withdrawal symptoms: Users will become depressed and feel extremely low in mood. Runny nose and flu-like symptoms.
How addictive is cocaine? Smoking in a roll-up with tobacco is the least addictive. Snorting; is a more mental addictive than physical. Injecting; is highly addictive.
How dangerous is taking cocaine? Cocaine users suffer from loss of appetite and weight loss. Highly prone to seizures and strokes, and can cause cardiovascular complications. Long-tern snorting can damage the nasal septum. Long-tern injecting can cause a fatal overdose.
More clues to find out if someone you know is on cocaine: (aside from above, look for the following). Pupils are tiny (pinpoint). * Visible needle (track marks) on arms or legs * Constantly sniffing. * White power remains around the nose. * Search for small square-shaped (bindle) paper wraps used to hold the cocaine which may be discarded in the rubbish bin. * White powder remains on mirrors, credit cards or flat surfaces. * Open the contents of hand-rolled cigarette butts and see what's inside. * Cocaine is bitter to taste and if tastes, will cause the mouth/tongue/gums to become numb. Having said that, some white powders which are used to mix with the cocaine could be benzocaine or lidocaine (among others) which are used in the dental industry to cause numbness.
Cocaine interesting facts: Being in love and being high on cocaine activates the same portions of the brain. + Cocaine has been the showbiz drug of choice for years.
“People who live with mental health conditions are more likely to abuse drug, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming addicted.”
How to tell if someone is on crack cocaine
Introduction: Crack, a crystallised form of cocaine which is turned into crack by either heating (called washing) cooking cocaine on a spoon, in a glass bottle or microwave. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is added to the cocaine during the cooking process which forms a hard white, to a light yellowish hard substance.
How do you get high on crack? Crack can be smoked using rolling papers and tobacco or by using a pipe. Smoking (freebasing) crack using a pipe is far more addictive and potent than smoking crack with tobacco in a roll-up.
Crack slang/street names: White. Base. Rocks. White solids.
Crack paraphernalia - items to look out for: Cocaine. Black (underside of) spoons. Bicarbonate of soda. Lighter. Rolling papers. Plastic bottles with a hole in the side (used for piping/smoking crack) Pipes (of various sizes and styles) Silver foil (to place on the plastic bottle top to smoke/pipe it).
The effects and highs of crack - behaviour to observe: Dilated pupils. * Euphoric feeling (can take on the world). * The best high ever. * Crack addicts will lie through their eyes if they need to get money for more.
The comedown of crack - withdrawal symptoms: Depression. Paranoia. Constantly looking down for any dropped bits of crack. If they can't afford it, addicts will do, sell and steal anything for another hit. Inability to eat and sleep. Always desperate for another hit.
How addictive Is crack? Crack is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet. Users will stay awake for as long a possible piping or smoking crack, to the point of users whole life revolves around crack.
How dangerous is taking crack? Because crack is so addictive, and the high is so euphoric, it makes this drug very dangerous. It causes long-term addiction which users find hard to quit. Long-term use of crack can cause paranoia, aggression. It damages the heart, liver, kidney and lungs and causes tooth decay. Crack can destroy peoples lives and ruin family relationships.
More clues to find out if someone you know is on crack: (Aside from above, look for the following). Search for small pipes. * Check the cupboards for bicarbonate/baking soda - especially if they don't bake! However, most crack users buy it pre-washed (made) * Check the rubbish bins for empty plastic bottles with a makeshift hole in the side. * Search for the 'Blackened' underside of spoons or metallic objects used to cook crack in. * Open the contents of discarded rolling butts and look for white powdery lump remains (which could be crack or cocaine).
Interesting crack facts: I have never heard anything interesting or positive about crack, aside from dealers who make a lot of money profiting from crack addicts.
Solvents - Glues, Gases and Aerosols
“The long-term side effect and dangers from consuming any drug will vary from person to person depending on the characteristics of each user, and how long they've been taking any drug for, as well as how pure (untarnished) each drug is.”
How to Tell if Someone is on Solvents - Glues, Gases and Aerosols
Introduction: Solvents/inhalants come in all types. From paint strippers to glues to marker pens. All give users an instant high when inhaled.
How do you get high on solvents? Inhaling using plastic bags, or solvents can be sprayed or applied to the sleeve of clothing or rag to sniff/inhale.
Solvent Names: Huffing. Bagging.
Solvent Paraphernalia items to look out for: Glues. Paint stripper. Amyl Nitrate (poppers). Marker pens. Butane cans. Cleaning fluids. Hair sprays. Nail polish remover. Plastic bags (to inhale substances from).
Solvent effects/highs - things to observe: Sniffing any toxic solvents can cause users to experience a temporary high and euphoric feeling. * Hallucinations and delusional thoughts.* Mind-altering effects. * Heart rate increase. * Slurred speech. * Drunk-like state. * Rashes and sores around the mouth.
The effects and highs of solvents - behaviour to observe: Users are left in a world of fantasy and delusional state. * Head rushes and hallucinations.
The comedown of solvents - withdrawal symptoms: Depression, cold chills and headaches. Hard to focus and concentrate.
How addictive are solvents? Sniffing solvents is psychologically addictive. The longer the use, the harder it is to give up.
How dangerous is sniffing solvents? Solvent abuse can cause long-term damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, heart and liver. Long-term use kills brain cells and can cause severe brain damage. Solvent abusers can become unconscious and choke to death on their own vomit. The constant sniffing and abusing volatile and poisonous chemicals can cause users to die from 'sudden sniffing death syndrome.' Even first-time users are just as vulnerable to die as a result of sniffing solvents as the long-term and experienced.
More clues to find out if someone you know is sniffing solvents: (aside from above, look for the following). Remove markers and see how quickly they're replaced, especially if they don't write or draw. * Secretly mark butane canisters or other solvents to see how many they are going through * Smell their breath, does it smell of glue or other solvents? * Check users do not have a butane (lighter refill) can up their sleeve. * Look for plastic bags that have dried glue inside. * Look for any very small brown bottles which could be 'amyl nitrate' - this chemical liquid (when sniffed) will make the heartbeat really fast and raises one's temperature very quickly, so be careful if you need to smell it. * Smell their sleeve.
Interesting solvent fact: "Sniffin' Glue and Other Rock 'N' Roll Habits" was a monthly punk zine started by British writer and musician, and former fanzine publisher Mark Perry in July 1976.
“Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and energy drinks can be just as addictive and dangerous as illegal drugs”
How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin
Introduction: Heroin is an opioid made from the resin (seed pods) of poppies. Pure heroin is white but can be grey, brown and black (black tar), depending on how its 'cut' (mixed with low-quality substances).
How do you get high on heroin? Heroin can be taken in four ways. Snorted. Smoked in a roll-up. Injected. Placed on aluminium foil and smoked (chased) 'chasing the dragon'. Pure heroin is white. The more it's mixed (tarnished with other cutting agents to increase the volume, thus increase in earnings), the darker it becomes. Heroin also comes in capsules and tablet form.
Heroin slang/street names: H. Smack. Brown. Skag.
Heroin paraphernalia: Needles. Spoons. Aluminium foil.
The effects and highs of heroin - things to observe: Heroin can give users an immense high as it takes away all the misery and pain they have. * Users will look like they are unconscious (gouching) which looks like they're falling asleep, even while standing. * It causes users to itch, so they are constantly scratching themselves.
The comedown of heroin - withdrawal symptoms: Depression, loss of appetite, inability to sleep. Stomach and muscle pain, and strong cravings for more, and cold turkey is not an option for heroin addicts. The need for their next hit to take away the horrors of withdrawal is vital.
How addictive is heroin? Highly addictive, regardless of how one chooses to take it, although snorting and smoking in rolling papers with tobacco is not as addictive as injecting, but still addictive. Heroin can cause physical and psychological dependence.
How dangerous is heroin? Taking heroin can lead to serious physical and mental problems. It will make users appearance, skin and cause weight loss. The abuse and misuse of heroin will destroy relationships. Injecting heroin can cause damage to veins, arteries and cause serious infections including death.
More clues to find out if someone you know is on heroin: (aside from above, look for the following). Search for needles. * Look for fresh needle (track) marks on the arms or any part of the body. Look in their eyes. Heroin users will have tiny pin-pricked pupils. * Heroin users who don't inject will use aluminium foil to inhale (chase the dragon), so check the rubbish bins for aluminium foil with black thin streak marks running down it. * Check inside books or magazine or elsewhere for this foil. * Search for the 'Blackened' underside of spoons or metallic objects used to cook heroin in. * Addicts may be covered in sores, rashes and scabs from constantly scratching itches. * Search the rubbish bins for any of the above. + Heroin is bitter to taste. * Heroin users are known to lie through their teeth, even swearing on their mothers' life.
Interesting heroin facts: The English vocalist Sid Vicious from the punk band The Sex Pistols died of an overdose after being released from prison. + Musicians Yoko Ono and John Lennon were addicted to heroin.
For help and support for substance addiction, contact National Drug Helpline.
More by this author: