Drugs of Abuse

Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant drug. It slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body

Alcoholism can also be in the form of binge drinking. This is a manner of drinking where the person doesn’t drink daily, but only on occasions. Sometimes these occasions are on weekends only or during holidays, special celebrations, etc. A binge occurs when a person drinks 5 or more drinks per ‘sitting’ or cannot stop, even when he tries to limit or control himself. Forms of alcohol, beers, ciders, wines, shooters, cocktails, home brew concoctions, spirits etc.

Withdrawal

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

Sweating, tremors, nausea, anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping, seizures/fits, delusions & hallucinations, depression, headache, eye sensitivity, tired/lazy etc.

Effects of Alcohol

There is no safe level of alcohol use, Alcohol affects every differently.

The following effects may be experienced:

Feeling relaxed, trouble concentration, slower reflexes, poor balance, increased confidence, red eyes, blurred vision, frequent urination, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, inappropriate behaviour, aggression/violence, emotional outbursts, anxiety, cravings, passing out, etc.

Long Term Effects

High blood pressure, stroke, heart related diseases, liver disease, nerve damage, sexual problems, permanent damage to the brain, malnutrition, ulcers, gastritis, cancer of the mouth and throat, alcohol poisoning, diabetes, mental problems, insomnia etc.

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CAT (Methcathinone)

 CAT is a stimulant drug. It speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the rest of the body

Also known as Methcathinone or the ‘poor man’s cocaine”. It comes in different forms, including: white powder, crystals, capsules and pills. Other names include: plant food, drone, kitty cat, bubbles or catnip. CAT is most commonly snorted, taken orally (mixed in a liquid) or smoked in either a crack pipe or added to tobacco.

Effects of CAT

There is no safe level of drug use, CAT affects everyone differently.

The following effects may be experienced:

Feeling happy & energetic, increased alertness, anxiety, paranoia, jerky eye movement, blurred vision, insomnia, hallucinations, rage psychosis, dilated pupils, memory loss, muscle tension (face & jaw) dizziness, nose bleeds, chest pain, tremors, skin rashes, sweating, rapid pulse etc.

Withdrawal

Symptoms usually start around 1 to 2 days after last use and can last for approximately 10 weeks. These symptoms include:

Cravings, increase appetite, stuffy nose, tiredness, feeling anxious, depression, tearful & emotional, irritability, difficulty concentrating, etc.

Long Term Effects

Permanent brain damage, amnesia, psychosis, mood irregularities, behavioural and cognitive impairment, uncontrolled shaking, delusions & hallucinations, elevated body temperatures etc.

Cocaine / Crack

 Cocaine/ Crack is a stimulant drug. . It speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the rest of the body

 Cocaine comes from the leaves of the Coca Bush. The leaf extract is processed to produce 2 different forms: Cocaine Hydrochloride (white crystalline powder often mixed with other substances) & Crack (crystals ranging from white, cream to transparent with ping/yellow hue. Other names: Coke, Powder, Snow, Rocks, Zoom

Paraphernalia

Cocaine: (mostly snored or rubbed on gums) Powder on mirror, glass, small plastic bags, rolled up money, tubes/pens, powdery resin on nose.

Crack: (Smoked by heating and inhaling fumes) Glass/ metal tubes, thin burnt wire/cigarette filter.

Effects of Cocaine / Crack

There is no safe level of drug use, Cocaine/Crack affects everyone differently.

The following effects may be experienced:

Feelings of happiness & excitement, elevates alertness & self-confidence, dry mouth, talkative, dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased sex drive, unpredictable or aggressive behaviour, indifference to pain, reduced appetite, hallucinations, improved concentration etc.

Cocaine ‘crush’ – severe depression after 3 days of use

Long Term Effects

Permanent brain damage, malnourishment, toxic effects on the heart & cardiovascular system, increased risk of strokes, movement disorders, impaired memory, decision making & motor functions, loss of smell, lung damage, poor dental health, frequent nose bleeds, etc.

Withdrawal

Symptoms usually start around 1 to 2 days after last use and can last for approximately 10 weeks. These symptoms include:

Agitation, derision, anxiety, intense hunger, cravings, restless sleep, tired, outbursts, inability to feel pleasure, etc.

Dagga

 Dagga (cannabis) is a depressant drug. It slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Dagga is also a hallucinogenic substance.

 Dagga is usually eaten or smoked and comes in 3 different forms: Marijuana (dried plant usually smoked) Hashish (dried plant resin usually added to foods and baked), Hash oil (liquid that is added to tip of cigarette and smoked). Other names include: Marijuana, Pot, Weed, Hash, Dope, Ghanja, Joint, Stick, Dabs, Zol, Boom, Skyf, Spliff, Grass

Paraphernalia

Rixla, Rasla-like clothes/jewellery, broken bottle necks, bank bags/crumpled news paper with bits of dagga. Dagga is sold in different forms, i.e thin cigarettes, large package wrapped in paper called an arm.

Effects of Dagga

There is no safe level of drug use, dagga affects everyone differently.

The following effects may be experienced:

Feeling relaxed/sleepy, spontaneous laughter, increased appetite, dry mouth, quiet/reflective mood, trouble concentrating, blurred vision, clumsiness, bloodshot eyes, hallucinations, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, mild anxiety and paranoia etc.

Withdrawal

Giving up Dagga after using if for a long time is challenging because the body has to get use to functioning without it. These symptoms can include:

Anxiety, irritability, aggressive and angry behaviour, cravings, loss of appetite, upset stomach, sweating, chills, tremors, restless sleep & nightmares, etc.

Long Term Effects

Memory loss, brain damage, learning difficulties, mood swings, low immune system, asthma, cancer, some psychiatric disorders, low sex drive, low fertility in males & females, depression, toxic psychosis, etc.

Nyaope

 Also known as Whoonga/Wunga is highly addictive street cocktail of Dagga and Heroin

Heroin

Heroin is a depressant drug. It slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body

Heroin belongs to a group of drugs know as ‘opioids’. Heroin comes in different forms, including: fine white powder, coarse off-white granules, tiny pieces of light brown ‘rock’. Other names include: smack, dragon, dope, H, white dynamite, china white, Dr Harry.

Heroin is usually injected into a vein, but its also smoked and added to cigarettes and dagga (nyaope). Smoking or inhaling is called “chasing the dragon”

Sometimes heron is snorted- the effects take around 10-15 min to feel if its used in this way.

Paraphernalia

Rizla, dagga, injection and needle, burnt spoon, tinfoil, lighter/candle, pieces of plastic bug cut into squares

Crack: (Smoked by heating and inhaling fumes) Glass/ metal tubes, thin burnt wire/cigarette filter.

Effects of Heroin

There is no safe level of drug use, Heroin affects everyone differently.

The following effects may be experienced:

Intense pleasure and pain relief, relaxation, drowsiness, clumsiness, confusion, slow breathing & heartbeat, dry mouth, tiny pupils, drooping eyelids, reduced appetite and vomiting, itchiness, cold clammy skin, passing out. Sharing needles may cause Tetanus, Hepatitis, HIV etc.

Withdrawal

Symptoms usually start around 6 tot 12 hours after last use and can last for about a week. These symptoms include:

Restlessness & irritability, depression & crying, diarrhoea, stomach & leg cramps, vomiting, Goosebumps, runny nose, rapid pulse, excessive sweating, insomnia etc.

Long Term Effects

Liver and kidney damage, lung infections, abscesses, bacterial and viral infections, bad dental health, brain damage due to lack of oxygen, excoriated skin from scratching, malnutrition, psychosis, poor immune system, etc.

Inhalants

 Inhalants is a depressant drug. It slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body

 Inhalants are common household, industrial and medical products that produce vapours. Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth. Common inhalants are: Aerosol spray, Chrome-based paint, Paint thinners, Felt-tipped pens, Correction fluid, Gas from lighters, Cleaning fluid, Glue, Petrol, Nitrous oxide. Other names: Sniff, Huff, Chroming, Poppers.

Paraphernalia

Empty aerosol cans, containers smelling of glue/petrol/paint/benzene, mess of solvents on clothing, smell of solvents on breath.

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Effects of Inhalants

There is no safe level of drug use, inhalants affects everyone differently.

The following effects may be experienced:

Intoxication, nausea, headaches, injuries, delirium, seizures, Pneumonia from inhaling vomit, abnormal heart rhythm, asphyxiation, runny nose, chest pains, hallucinations, blackouts, emotional outbursts, aggressive behaviour, etc.

Withdrawal

Symptoms usually start 24 to 48 hours after last use and can last for 2 to 5 days. These symptoms include:

Headache, nausea, stomach pain, tiredness, tremors, muscle cramps, hallucinations/visual disorders such as seeing spots, chills, irritability, aggressive outbursts, etc.

Long Term Effects

Depression, Memory loss, reduced attention span, pimples around the mouth and lips, pale appearance, loss of smell and hearing, problems with blood production which may result in Anemia, heart conditions, stomach ulcers, liver & kidney damage, brain damage, etc.

Crystal Meth or Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug. . It speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the rest of the body

Other names: ICE, Glass, Shabu, TIK, Crystal Meth, Speed, Globes, Straws. In South Africa it is most commonly smoked by heath the crystal up in a light bulb. It creates a fume/smoke which is inhaled. It usually comes as small chunky clear crystals that look like ice. It can also come as white or brownish crystal-like powder with a strong smell & bitter taste.

Paraphernalia

Small plastic bags, TIK looks like Epsom salts, Broken light bulbs, small pieces of straws with melted ends.

Effects of Methamphetamine

There is no safe level of drug use, methamphetamine affects everyone differently.

The following effects may be experienced:

Increased heart rate, enlarge pupils, poor appetite, increased activity, alertness, palpitations, depression, restlessness, paranoia, inability to sleep, seizures, stroke, continuous talking, rise in body temperature, aggression, violence & agitation (fight or flight) etc.

Withdrawal

Giving up Methamphetamine after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. These symptoms can include:

Cravings, increased appetite, confusion, irritability, aches and pains, exhaustion, restless sleep, nightmares, anxiety, depression, paranoia, etc.

Long Term Effects

Blood vessel damage, weak immune system, heart & kidney problems, depression, muscle stiffness, breathlessness, dental problems, low concentration, increased risk of stroke, e

Over the Counter Medication ( OTC)

 

Abusing over-the-counter medicines can lead to addiction or use of more dangerous drugs in search of a better ‘high’.

Some commonly abused OTC medications include: Cough medicines, Cold medicines, Motion sickness pills, Pain relievers, Diet pills/Appetite suppressants, etc.

Signs & Symptoms

A person who is abusing opiates will have constricted pupils, will appear tired and drowsy. A person early in their abuse of these drugs may get itchy and nauseated. As the drug kicks in, he or she may begin to vomit frequently.

Other signs & symptoms of general drug dependency of overdose may include:

  • Pre-occupied with obtaining the medication
  • May seem confused / experience memory lapses
  • May demonstrate poor balance and clumsiness
  • Eyes may be red and glazed.
  • May go for days without sleeping
  • The person’s breath, skin or clothing may emit a foul smell. The smell is a result of the chemical interaction between the person’s body and the drug.
  • Drug use often results in physical clumsiness, awkward movement, or visual alternation.
  • Uncontrollable shaking or tremors
  • May have difficulty forming words / slurred speech
  • Lost interest in work / school
  • Increased level of secrecy
  • Changes in personality or mood

 

Did you know?

 Most painkillers, cold and cough medication, contains codeine. Codeine belongs to the opioid family (which includes heroin, opium and morphine). If used as instructed it will benefit the person, but if abused it can cause dependency and have harmful physical consequences. Opiates are highly addictive; misuse can lead to painful and all-consuming dependency.

While taking a pill may be easier than to make a lifestyle change, it comes with risks