Alcohol and Drugs

Overdose:
Mixing drugs like heroin or methadone with alcohol is really risky. Heroin and alcohol both can stop breathing but in different ways. Combine the two and it can be fatal. Now you may think this doesn’t apply to you because you are in treatment and on a script. Research shows that it’s people who are on a script for are far more likely to drink and therefore be at risk of overdose,

No matter how good a drinker or heroin user you think you are, never underestimate the effect of combining alcohol with opiates. Because of the way the two substances interact, you may only need a small amount of heroin to go over.

Benzodiazepines (benzos):
Alcohol is one substance that uses part of the brain which the benzodiazepines use. Benzodiazepines include drugs such as diazepam and nitrazepam.  Alcohol will boost the effect of benzos. Although overdoses of benzodiazepines alone are rarely fatal, combinations of benzodiazepines with alcohol are dangerous and toxic and may make you feel really out of it, a touch forgetful, slightly wobbly (to say the least), confused for sure, and tired (surprise, surprise). It’s not uncommon for people to get aggressive and lose all sense of reality especially if they try to force themselves not to sleep. Some people have been known to wake up in a police cell for doing something they cannot remember

Antidepressants:
More drug users are being treated with antidepressants these days.. If you do take antidepressants and drink, you need to be careful. This is because alcohol and medicines like Prozac act upon similar chemicals in the brain. The concern is that Prozac will increase the effects of alcohol. Therefore you may get drunk more easily and more likely to pass out quickly too. Alcohol will knock out the effects of the antidepressants, leaving you back in that depressed state – and so it’s back to the beginning again

Because they work in different ways it puts more pressure on your liver when it tries to process the two together.

The best advice (again) is not to drink at all while on antidepressants. If you do – then drink moderately – that’s about 1 pint or glass of wine PER DAY. If you decide to drink alcohol in moderation while on Prozac, it is recommended you do not drink alcohol when you actually take your medication

New Psychoactive Drugs

These chemicals, sold under names such as spice and black mamba, are designed to give users the same effect as drugs like cannabis and cocaine.

As technology develops so does the production of drugs. There are more drugs appearing on the market than ever before.

This section aims to give you an oversight of what is currently out there

To make things simple we have grouped the various legal highs into the type of categories you would expect to see for illegal drugs. That way you can get some idea of the effects of these drugs.

Amphetamines:

There are psychoactive substances that have been produced to produce speed type effects. Although now illegal and is a Class B drug, probably the most famous legal high is Mephadrone. These type of drugs speed up the heart, reduce appetite and cause sleeplessness and generally come in a white powder form. Some people say Mephadrone is more like ecstasy or cocaine than speed, producing that “loved up” feeling where people just want to be nice and hug anything that moves.

There’s another speed like drug that has come on the market called Benzo Fury – this should not be confused with benzodiazepines, drugs which make you drowsy. Benzo Fury varies in appearance and can come in the form of tablets, capsules or powder. The effects from this drug are also similar to Mephadrone

The Risks:
The effects of drugs like meph can last up to an hour. The stress this puts on your heart is enormous and can lead to heart problems. If you use too much there is a possibility of cardiac failure.

Meph has been known to make people quite sick, anxious and paranoid. With other compounds effects such as dizziness and short term memory loss may be experienced.

If these aren’t bad enough there have been reports of people suffering from their fingers turning blue, because of the way meph affects the circulatory system. Tooting meph up the nose is likely to cause nose bleeds.

There is a risk of death with mephadrone and since 2010 there have been 6 deaths in Wales and England

The Law:
If you are caught with Meph or NRG 1 then you are in possession of a class B drug which is illegal! Benzo Fury does not come under the Misuse of Drugs Act

Cannabinoids:

As you’d expect, these are drugs that have been produced to mimic the effects of cannabis. People think that these drugs are plants that are similar to cannabis, but that is totally incorrect. These drugs have been produced by spraying a plant with a chemical that mimics the effect of cannabis. The most common chemical to date is a substance called JWH.

Drugs sold that give the effects of Cannabis are neatly packaged and include the following “brands – Amsterdam Gold, Black Mamba, Devil’s Weed, Ecsess, Spice, and X.

The effects you get from these drugs are pretty similar to Cannabis and can alter your moods, sometimes making you happy, sometimes they may make you feel quite depressed and paranoid.

The Risks:
The risks are pretty similar to cannabis – paranoia, and mental health problems are one of the most commonly reported issues. The biggest risk with this stuff is that you don’t know what plant you are smoking, nor what drug that’s been sprayed onto it. Subsequently the effects may be unpredictable and you won’t know, like any illegal drug, the strength of what you are taking. You won’t know how long these effects may last and the risks may therefore be increased.

As with cannabis these drugs are addictive and stopping after using for a long time may cause withdrawal symptoms such as intense cravings, mood swings and irritability

The Law: Beware. You may think these drugs are legal but some of the chemicals used in these so called legal highs are actually Class B drugs

Ecstasy:

Legal highs that come under this category include substances sold as A2, Blast, Bolts Extra Strength, BZP, Cosmic Kelly, ESP, Euphoria, Exodus, Fast Lane, Frenzy, Happy Pills, Legal E, Legal X, Nemesis, Party Pills, pep, Pep Love, Pep Stoned, Pep Twisted, Rapture, Silver Bullet, Smiley’s, The Good Stuff. These products contain chemicals known as Piperazines that produce effects similar to Ecstasy

The effects of these types of drugs last for about 6-8 hours but are not as strong as Ecstasy and create feelings of euphoria, alertness and energy

The Risks:
Although the effects are not as potent as Ecstasy the risks are quite significant and include:

  • Hangover type effects for about 24 hours
  • Increase in blood pressure, which can be fatal
  • Vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea
  • Fits or heart attack

Avoid these drugs if you have any heart condition or suffer from high blood pressure

The Law:
Although these compounds were made to get around the law, these have now been outlawed and are Class C drugs.

KHAT:

This is a natural plant that, when chewed, produces effects like amphetamines, creating alertness and insomnia. It may also suppress the appetite.

The Risks:
Khat is known for inflaming the mouth and damaging teeth. As mentioned above it causes insomnia and lack of appetite which will suppress the body’s immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infections and illnesses

Because khat increases blood pressure it places extra strain on the heart, and creates risks of heart problems. There is also the possibility of Khat causing aggression and triggering mental health problems

The Law:
Khat is not illegal to possess or supply

LSD:

Salvia is a Mexican plant that produces effects similar to LSD or acid. Legal highs that are sold using Salvia are more commonly known as Eclipse, holy sage, Mexican Magic and Mint and can be chewed or smoked.

Like LSD Salvia can produce mild or quite severe hallucinations or “trips” depending on how much is taken and these can be pleasant. It is really difficult to predict what you will expect, though it is advisable not to take salvia if you aren’t in a good state of mind. Effects kick in very shortly after about a minute and last about 30 minutes.

The Risks:
People get shocked and quite scared at the fact that the effects of Salvia come on so quickly. If you are doing Salvia for the first time it’s advisable to have people around you in case you do panic or anything goes wrong – such as experience a bad trip

Like LSD Salvia can trigger mental health problems, so if someone already suffers from these it is advisable not to use

The Law:
It is not illegal to possess Salvia but selling it for humans to use is.

Laughing Gas:

It’s not uncommon now to see inhaling balloons at festivals. Inhaling nitrous oxide, or hippy crack as it’s known, causes people to go into giggles for about 30 seconds. Inhaling a couple of balloons is believed to have no effect, but after 5 or so balloons it seems your memory can be affected and make you feel sick. It’s called hippy crack because the hit or rush is quite intense, leaving the user wanting more – and so yes it can be addictive. The rush is caused by starving the brain of oxygen that can cause you to collapse

The Risks:
in addition to the risks highlighted above, long term use of nitrous can lead to  vitamin B12 deficiencies that causes anaemia, a condition that makes you tired and faint.

The Law:
Nitrous does not come under the Misuse of Drugs Act

Ketamine:

Methoxetamine is a relatively new drug on the market which mimics the effects of ketamine but is believed to be much stronger. Little is known about this drug because it is so new.

Like ketamine it distorts reality, produces hallucinations and can create an out of body experience. In some cases it causes a form of paralysis where the person is awake but doesn’t respond to any form of stimulus or signal.

This drug can takes between 10-15 minutes to come on, but in some cases it may take up to an hour. It is advisable therefore to give it an hour before taking extra doses to avoid overdosing and experiencing severe hallucinations. Initial effects include feeling chilled out, but in some cases there have been reports of people feeling quite agitated.

The Risks:
As with LSD hallucinations can be good or bad, and the problem is you won’t know which sort you will get.

Long term use of ketamine produces bladder problems which may result in the removal of this organ. It is not clear whether this drug causes similar problems.

This drug is also reported to cause slurred speech, involuntary eye movements, lack of co-ordination and loss of balance. Because it’s effect of speeding up the body there is a risk of heart problems
The Law:
In April 2012 the Government made it illegal to possess and supply this drug

To get more information on legal highs and illegal drugs please go to the national Drugs Website DAN: http://dan247.org.uk/DrugsAtoZ.asp

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