Drugs Facts and Useful Information

The effects of illegal drugs will depend on:

  • How much you take (difficult to establish)
  • How strong the drug is (difficult to establish)
  • How the drug is taken (e.g. orally or injected)
  • Your size, weight and health
  • Your mood
  • Your experience with the drug(s)
  • If it is taken with other drugs


Cannabis is a depressant drug like alcohol. It slows down the central nervous system. Cannabis also has mild hallucinogenic effects.

Immediate effects:

  • Relaxed & less inhibited
  • Increased appetite
  • Affects perception
  • Reduced co-ordination
  • Thought process and memory
  • Confusion

Long Term effects:

  • Respiratory Illness
  • Less Motivation
  • Brain Function (memory & ability to learn)
  • Psychosis

Cannabis in the workplace and the community


Amphetamines belong to a group of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. They speed up the messages going to and from the brain to the body. It is commonly referred to as “speed”. A more powerful form of the drug is called crystal methamphetamine or “ice”.

Immediate effects:

  • Speeds up activity of body eg. heart rate, breathing & blood pressure
  • More energetic & alert
  • Reduced appetite
  • Irritability
  • Overdose can cause death

Long term effects:

  • Malnutrition
  • Psychosis
  • Less resistance to infection
  • Need to take other drugs
  • Violence
  • Hepatitis/HIV (shared needles)

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy is similar in structure to amphetamines and causes hallucinogenic effects.  A “hangover” effect may occur following its use which could include insomnia, depression, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

Immediate effects:

  • Feeling of wellbeing & increased confidence
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Risk of kidney failure
  • Convulsions & vomiting

Long Term Effects:

  • Heart Attack
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Overheating (hyperthermia)
  • Over-drinking (drinking too much water all at once) –  dilutional hyponatremia which results in death
  • Psychosis


Cocaine is a stimulant.  It speeds up the activity of the  central nervous system.

Immediate effects:

  • Increased body temperature and heart rate
  • Exhilaration and sense of wellbeing
  • Poor concentration and judgement
  • Unpredictable and/or violent behaviour
  • Feelings of great physical strength and mental capacity
  • Hallucinations and tremors
  • Heart attack leading to death

Long term effects:

  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Weight Loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Nausea


Heroin is one of a group of drugs known as opioids.  Other forms include morphine, codeine, pethidine and  methadone.  Heroin is made from morphine or codeine via a chemical process.  It is a depressant drug and narcotic (has a numbing effect).

Immediate effects:

  • Intense pleasure
  • Pain relief
  • Slowing down of breathing, pulse and blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Death

Long term effects:

  • Psychological dependence
  • Malnutrition
  • Infections
  • Death
  • Hepatitis/HIV (shared needles)

Drugs in the workplace and the community