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Street Drugs

Street Drugs are drugs that are illegal and used for recreational purposes. They are not used for medicinal purposes and most, if not all, are highly addictive. The most common street drugs are marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamines. While street drugs are not taken for medicinal purposes, many people turn to drugs because they are trying to self medicate. The inabilities to confront a problem, or face different challenges in life are common reasons people turn to street drugs.

Drugs allow individuals to alter their mood and behavior, and effectively give them the ability to shut out parts of their life that they don't want to deal with. Many people think turning to recreational drugs allows them to fix problems they are dealing with, but the reality is that drugs only temporarily provide relief and those problems they are avoiding are still right there when recreational drug effects have worn off. In turn, drug abuse and drug addiction becomes a new problem and begins to overshadow the reasons individuals start using in the first place.

Street Drug Effects

Heroin - Heroin's immediate effects provide an euphoric feeling of comfort and warmth followed by an extremely drowsy period which is commonly referred to as "nodding out". In the long term, heroin users are at high risk of HIV and hepatitis C, because of the possibility of sharing needles, as well as kidney and liver disease.

Cocaine - Cocaine's immediate effects provide increased awareness and mental alertness as well as a physical burst of energy. Increased heart rate and dilated pupils are also common effects of cocaine use. Long term effects of cocaine include heart attacks, stroke, seizures and respiratory failure.

Marijuana - The immediate effects of marijuana are a relaxing sensation sometimes followed by slight auditory and visual hallucinations. While most people do not believe there are negative effects caused by smoking marijuana, there are some long term effects to be aware of. Cough and mucus production increase with daily use, risk of lung infection more common and marijuana contains more carcinogens than cigarettes which are extremely harmful to the lungs.

Meth - Meth's immediate effects are highly increased awareness and mental alertness followed by a physical and mental "rush" of energy. Meth also causes many people to become sexually stimulated so risky promiscuity is common among meth users. Long term effects of meth include stroke, seizures, respiratory problems and brain damage.

Ecstasy - Ecstasy's immediate effects are a very powerful euphoric rush, followed by visual and auditory hallucinations that last for hours. Ecstasy can be fatal on the first try, so death can also be an effect of ecstasy. Long term effects of ecstasy are liver damage, brain damage, anxiety, impaired memory as well as learning disorders and emotional instability.

Street drugs are similar to a tornado in the brain, leaving in its wake emotional and chemical chaos. This term is used for all drugs that are sold illegally. Street drugs are the worst and most dangerous because they are not regulated. They are illegal because of the harmful effects they have on the user. It is not a surprise that they are as "popular" as they are. Mankind has always explored different ways to achieve an altered state of consciousness. In the search for mood and mind altering substances, humankind has long experimented and taken risks.

Using drugs can be a temptingly easy way to change or control ones mood and psychological state. Advertising and marketing may enhance the appeal of substance use. There are fashions in drug use and the use of a certain drug may be associated with a particular (and perhaps desirable) lifestyle or subculture.

Street drugs are sometimes known as "recreational drugs". They can be classified as stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. Some drugs, however, can overlap these categories, for example ecstasy is both a stimulant and a hallucinogen. While low grade cannabis (hash) works as a depressant, stronger versions such as skunk may also have hallucinogenic properties.

Stimulants work by increasing neural activity in the brain. They have the short-term effect of making one feel lively, talkative, confident, and euphoric. They are attractive to club and party-goers because they enhance sensory experience and postpone the need for sleep. As their effect wears off, however, they can leave you feeling restless, irritable, or washed out. There may, therefore, be a temptation to avoid these "coming down" feelings by taking more of the drug. Long-term use or high doses can lead to extreme agitation, insomnia, delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia particularly in susceptible individuals.

  • The most common stimulants are:
    • Amphetamines (speed / meth)
    • Ecstasy (a hallucinogenic amphetamine)
    • Anabolic steroids (used illegally to enhance strength and performance in sports)
    • Amyl nitrite (poppers)
    • Cocaine
    • Crack cocaine

Depressants work by depressing the central nervous system. They can therefore induce a state of relaxation or sedation as well as reducing the intensity of pain of emotions such as fear, anger, or anxiety.

  • They can also have short term effects as follows:
    • Reducing intellectual ability and the ability to concentrate or retain information
    • Reducing motivation and energy
    • Reducing manual dexterity e.g. the ability to operate machinery, drive, climb, or swim.
  • Examples of depressants are:
    • Opiates such as heroin/diamorphine(smack), morphine, pethidine, and methadone
    • Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium and Temazepam). These may be prescribed for short-term use to combat anxiety but they also have an illegal market when sold on the street.
    • Cannabis (many street names such as hash, dope, weed, gear). Long-term use or high doses may lead to depression, increased anxiety, an inability to deal effectively with emotions, short-term memory loss, and insomnia

These drugs enhance sensory perceptions - sight, sound, smell and touch. On a pleasant "good trip," a person may experience increased self-awareness and mystical or ecstatic feelings. On a "bad trip," there may be unpleasant feelings of disorientation, panic, and/or paranoia. These effects may last several hours. People can also suffer "flashbacks" where they re-live experiences when tripping. This can be intensely disorientating and anxiety provoking. A bad trip is more likely in someone who is already anxious, depressed or unstable, or who takes the drug in an insecure environment. It may not be affected by previous experience of the drug or by dosage.

  • Hallucinogens include:
    • LSD
    • Hallucinogenic stimulants such as Ecstasy (see above)
    • Magic mushrooms
    • High potency cannabis such as "skunk".