All drugs carry risks and you never know how you’ll react to a drug so it’s a bit of a lottery.
Drugs can be broadly divided into three categories based on their main effects. They may act solely as stimulants, as depressants or as hallucinogens (aka psychedelics).
Quite a few drugs have mixed effects. Many show two effects at the same time, and can then be described either as stimulant hallucinogens (for example, ecstasy) or as depressant hallucinogens (for example, cannabis).
Stimulants make you feel alert and like you have lots of energy and confidence. However, they can put pressure on your heart and there is a risk of heart failure. They include cocaine, speed, ecstasy, and mephedrone.
Depressants make you feel relaxed and chilled out but they can slow down your heart rate and breathing which can be fatal. They include alcohol, tranquillisers, heroin and cannabis.
Hallucinogens can make you view reality in a distorted way - your sense of movement and time can speed up or slow down and you might see vivid distortions, illusions or hallucinations (seeing things that are there). They include LSD and magic mushrooms.
In addition to these 3 broad categories, each particular drug has its own specific effects and risks.
Some drugs are quite new and their harms may not yet be fully known. Sometimes drugs don’t contain what you think they do, for example, PMA and mephedrone have been sold as MDMA/ecstasy. Information on the known effects of drugs is available in the A-Z of drugs (http://www.talktofrank.com/drugs-a-z).
If you're feeling pressure to take drugs, here's how to deal with it:
Read the top tips provided by 'Talk Frank':
- You’re not alone! It’s easy to think you’re the only one who has not experimented with drugs. The reality is that most people your age don’t take drugs and you’re in the majority.
- Work out where you stand on issues like sex, drugs and alcohol. Knowing your own mind makes it easier to stay true to yourself.
- Prepare yourself now by thinking through how you want to respond and behave. It may help to share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust.
- Try to understand who is offering you the drugs and why – friends should understand if you say no, people you don’t know very well may expect something in return.
- Say no firmly but clearly and without making a big deal about it. If they try to persuade you, don’t feel like you have to change your mind.
- They may not show it, but your mates will respect you more if you’re assertive and clear about what you do and don’t want to do.
- Take a look around – it might not seem like it, but you’re not the only one worrying about what other people think of you. Try to focus on your own opinion of yourself – in the end, that’s all that matters.
- Watch out for your mates - if you’re worried about a friend, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to them, or someone you trust.
- If you’re finding it hard to be yourself within your group, take a step back, and think about whether it’s time to find a new crowd to hang out with.
Worried about a friend?
Not all drugs are addictive, but some drug users do develop a dependence. People who are dealing with addiction usually:
- Feel the need for the drug regularly.
- Have a constant supply of it.
- Have failed to stop using.
- Will do things they normally wouldn't do (such as stealing).
Sometimes people who have a problem don’t think they have or refuse to believe that they are addicted or dependent. So if you think your friend has a problem and you want to help them, think about how you're going to approach it and what you’re going to say. It could be a sensitive subject for them and you don’t what to looking like you’re nagging them. They may not listen to you at first but don’t let this put you off. The best thing that you can do is to be there for them, to support and encourage them to change.
A good thing to do is keep your friend away from situations or places which might entice them - like say the pub or a mate's house. Rather, show them some other things to do to keep themselves busy.
With the proper help and support, many drug users are able to overcome their drug use before any serious harm has been done to them, or their family and friends. Other drug users have to hit rock bottom before they can see the harm and damage they are doing and start addressing their drug use.
There are a number of ways to get the information you need to help your friend. You may want to know more about the drug by exploring our A-Z of drugs, read about treatment or to find out what services are available to you locally. And of course, you or your friend can call FRANK anytime on 0300 123 6600 for confidential advice.
Advice leaflet for parents - Drugs: Does Your Child Know More Than You?
Call: 0300 123 6600