Having some information about drugs is vital for parents and families.
If you are concerned that a family member might be taking drugs, or you are looking for information to help you in talk to them about drugs, this section is a useful starting point.
Is a drug, and the most widely used drug in the country. Although it is quite legal to drink alcohol, that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful than other drugs.
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your body's responses in all kinds of ways.
Amphetamine is a cheap drug which makes people more alert and allows them to stay awake for longer.
There are many different types of minor tranquillisers, but the most common are the group of drugs called benzodiazepines and are often used by heroin users due to their relaxing qualities and because they help ease the symptoms of withdrawal.
Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug. It is smoked, usually with tobacco, and is used primarily for its relaxing effects.
Cocaine used to be a preserve of the rich due to its expense, but is much more common now. People use it to feel more confident, talkative and alert.
Crack cocaine is made by mixing cocaine with baking soda to make small rocks. It provides intense but short-lived feelings of euphoria, energy and talkativeness.
Ecstasy, a stimulant, makes people feel energised, happy, affectionate and awake. It is often used in nightclubs or other places where people dance and socialise for long periods of time.
Heroin is an extremely addictive drug derived from the poppy, like other opiates such as morphine. Due to its nature as a painkiller, heroin can make people forget about their problems and feel more comfortable.
Ketamine is a powerful anaesthetic and has been used in operations. It has become popular in the dance community and makes people feel detached from their surroundings; at higher doses it can make people hallucinate.
Mephedrone has only recently come to prominence because of media attention, but many parents and families are concerned about it. It is a stimulant with similar effects to ecstasy or cocaine in that it makes people feel energetic and confident.
Methadone is an opiate whose main use lies in the treatment of heroin addicts – it is prescribed to them as part of a treatment programme. However, it can be misused and is available on the black market.
Methamphetamine (crystal meth)
Crystal meth, a powerful and very addictive stimulant, has become more prominent and popular recently. It gives its users intense feelings of euphoria and also increases sexual desire.
These are refers to household goods and chemicals which can be used as drugs – for example glues, aerosols and lighter fluids. They are easy to get hold of and can pose real risk of harm, even on first use.