The following quick facts are provided as a resource to learn about some of the more common drugs of abuse and not as a means of diagnosing substance abuse or addiction.
Alcoholism is a family disease touching not only the individual struggling with addiction, but their family as well. A standard drink is defined as containing 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking and drinking by pregnant women or young people under the age of 21. (Source: CDC)
Alcoholism is defined as the compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages or any other source of alcohol regardless of consequences. Alcoholism is classified as an addictive illness and treated as a disease.
Effects on the Family Include:
Suspicion —The alcoholic’s actions often lead to accusations and conflicts over whether or not he or she has been drinking.
Insecurity — Drinking puts jobs and financial security at risk.
Guilt—Family members blame themselves for the drinking and often believe their shortcomings are driving the alcoholic to drink.
Fear—Family members fear the unpredictable consequences of drinking: mood changes, irritability, anger, sometimes even violence. They also fear that matters will get worse and the family unit will disintegrate.
Disappointment—Family members are constantly disappointed by broken promises and unfulfilled expectations.
Isolation—Family members become isolated from one another by the unwritten rule against discussing the “problem.” Each is forced to find his or her way of coping with the pain. Normal family communications break down.
Embarrassment—Embarrassment often causes family members to avoid attending events where drinking is likely to occur, and to avoid bringing people into the house. It also prevents going outside the family to seek help.
Resentment—As more unfair demands are placed on the family, members become angry and resentful. This puts a strain on relationships and threatens to destroy the unity of the family.
Synthetic Cathinones, marketed as “Bath Salts” and sometimes as “Plant Food” synthetic stimulants are labeled “not for human consumption.” Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) is a psychoactive drug with stimulant effects similar to cocaine. It’s a “crystalline” powder that tends to clump to itself, resembling powdered sugar and color can range from pure white to a yellowish-tan. Bath Salts have a slight odor that strengthens as it colors.” (Source: Wikipedia)
The DEA issued a ban on bath salts in October, 2011, but like other designer drugs, MDPV has many variants making enforcement difficult. In 2012, Congress permanently placed 26 substances into Schedule I of the CSA. MDPV remains available for purchase on the internet, in convenient stores and in “head shops.”
Common Street Names: Plant Food, MTV, Magic, Super Coke, Cloud 9, Bliss, Blue Silk, Bloom, Blow, White Lightening, Ivory White, Pure Ivory, White Dove, Red Dove, Snow Leopard, Lunar Wave, Drone, Explosion, Gravel, Insect Repellant, M-Cat, Meow Meow, Ocean Burst, Phone Screen Cleaner, Recharge, Scarface, Stardust, Vanilla Sky , Energy One and White Knight
Effects: Extreme euphoria, increased alertness and awareness, increased energy and motivation, decreased concentration, increased sociability, sexual stimulation/aphrodisiac effects and a diminished perception of the requirement for food and sleep.
Other effects include agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, dizziness, depression, suicidal thoughts and seizures.
Flakka (alpha-PVP), also known as "gravel," is similar to bath salts and comes in the form of white or pink crystals. It can be eaten, snorted, injected or vaporized in e-cigarettes. Flakka can cause hallucinations and paranoia.
WHAT ARE BENZODIAZEPINES? Benzodiazepines are depressants that produce sedation and hypnosis, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and reduce seizures.
WHAT IS THEIR ORIGIN? Benzodiazepines are only legally available through prescription. Many users maintain their drug supply by getting prescriptions from several doctors, forging prescriptions, or buying them illicitly. Alprazolam (Xanax®) and clonazepam (Klonopin®) are the two most frequently encountered benzodiazepines on the illicit market.
WHAT ARE COMMON STREET NAMES? Common street names include Benzos and Downers. What do they look like? The most common benzodiazepines are the prescription drugs Valium®, Xanax®, Halcion®, Ativan®, and Klonopin®. Tolerance can develop, although at variable rates and to different degrees. Shorter-acting benzodiazepines used to manage insomnia include estazolam (ProSom®), flurazepam (Dalmane®), temazepam (Restoril®), and triazolam (Halcion®). Midazolam (Versed®), a short-acting benzodiazepine, is utilized for sedation, anxiety, and amnesia in critical care settings and prior to anesthesia. It is available in the United States as an injectable preparation and as a syrup (primarily for pediatric patients). Benzodiazepines with a longer duration of action are utilized to treat insomnia in patients with daytime anxiety. These benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax®), chlordiazepoxide (Librium®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®), halazepam (Paxipam®), lorzepam (Ativan®), oxazepam (Serax®), prazepam (Centrax®), and quazepam (Doral®). Clonazepam (Klonopin®), diazepam, and clorazepate are also used as anticonvulsants.
HOW ARE THEY ABUSED? Abuse is frequently associated with adolescents and young adults who take the drug orally or crush it up and snort it to get high. Abuse is particularly high among heroin and cocaine users. Additionally, opioid users often coabuse benzodiazepines to enhance euphoria.
WHAT IS THEIR EFFECT ON THE MIND? Benzodiazepines are associated with amnesia, hostility, irritability, and vivid or disturbing dreams.
WHAT IS THEIR EFFECT ON THE BODY? Benzodiazepines slow down the central nervous system and may cause sleepiness and relaxed mood.
WHAT ARE BENZODIAZEPINES OVERDOSE EFFECTS?
Effects of overdose include:
- extreme drowsiness
- impaired coordination
- decreased reflexes
- respiratory depression
- possible death
Overdose effects of combined use of benzodiazepines and opioids include:
- profound sedation
- respiratory depression
WHICH DRUGS CAUSE SIMILAR EFFECTS?
Drugs that cause similar effects include:
- sleeping pills
WHAT IS THE LEGAL STATUS OF BENZODIAZEPINES IN THE UNITED STATES?
Benzodiazepines are controlled in Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act.
Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Fact Sheet Benzodiazepines. April 2020. https://getsmartaboutdrugs.com. Accessed July 27, 2022. Retrieved from: https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/Benzodiaz...
The term “club drugs” refers to mostly illegal drugs that are popular among young people who frequent all-night dance parties or “raves.” Included in the club drug category are the commonly called “date rape” drugs, which are primarily strong sedative drugs that put the user into a very deep sleep. As the following information shows, use of any of these drugs is very dangerous. The dangers increase with how and where the drug was made, how much of the drug is taken, and whether the user ingests alcohol or other drugs along with the club drug.
See: MDMA, GHB, Rohypnol, Ketamine
Crack & Cocaine
Cocaine is making a comeback in popularity. Cocaine in its pure form is a white crystalline powder extracted from the leaves of South America’s coca plant. On the street, it is a mixture of the pure substance and various additives used to increase the quantity, and thereby, the seller’s profit. Cocaine can be inhaled (snorted) through the nose, smoked in the forms of free-base cocaine (which is particularly dangerous because the substance used to process it is highly flammable) or crack, and may also be injected.
The use of cocaine is very dangerous in all of its forms. Even small amounts can cause convulsions, heart and respiratory failure or death. Using free-base, crack or injected cocaine increases the risk of overdose because very large amounts of the drug reach the brain within seconds. Injecting cocaine also carries the additional hazards of HIV/AIDS infection, hepatitis and reactions to impurities in the drug.
Physical fitness or good health does not impact a person’s tolerance for cocaine. Sensitivity can also develop in those who have used the drug before, so prior use is no guarantee that a person will not be fatally affected by continued use.
Effects: Weight loss, chronic runny nose with damage to the nose and sinus, lowered resistance to infections and disease, high blood pressure, seizures, irritability, short temper, paranoia, memory loss, loss of sex drive, panic attacks, chronic depression, hallucinations, fast or irregular heartbeats, heart attack and death. Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include exhaustion, irritability, sleepiness, energy loss, depression and an intensive craving for more cocaine.
What to Look For: Frequent and extreme mood swings, from self-confidence and euphoria to depression and paranoia, what seems like a complete change in personality, compulsive behavior, anxiety, jitteriness, loss of interest in normal activities, constant lateness or absence from school or work, a new circle of friends, large withdrawals of money from the bank; frequent requests for loans, selling something of value with nothing to show for it, significant weight loss in a short time, constant stuffy or runny nose, nose bleeds, trouble sleeping, yet seems exhausted all the time, little interest in sex.
Cocaine paraphernalia may include a small mirror (provides a smooth surface for snorting), spoon, razor (for chopping the cocaine into “lines”), tooter, straw or rolled-up dollar bill, beaker or petri dish (to head the cocaine for free-basing), supply of ether (mixed with street cocaine and then evaporated to purify the drug), rounded water pipe with several layers of screens, syringes (for injection).
Other names for Cocaine: 777, Angel Powder, Angie, Aunt Nora, Baby Powder, Big C, Blast, Blizzard, Blonde, BMW, Gold Dust, Devil's Dandruff, Snow, Flour, Girlfriend, Heaven, Icing, Jeep, Lady, Rambo, Reindeer Dust, Rooster, Schoolboy, White T, White Powder, White Horse, Toot
Other names for Crack: 51's, 150's, 501's, White Sugar, White Tornado, Nuggets, Moon Rock, Nickel, Gold, Rock, Cloud Nine, Cookies, Bump, Black Rock, Blowout, Casper the Ghost, Dice, Ice, Ice Cubes, Great White Hope, Speed Boat, Top Gun
Dextromethorphan is common in over-the-counter cough suppressants and can be abused if used in doses higher than prescribed. It is a semi-synthetic morphine derivative and comes in the form of syrup, tablets, capsules or powder. The most commonly abused brands are RobitussinTM and Coricidin HBPTM in liquid, tablet or gel capsule. The typical abusers are adolescents and teenagers with DXM producing feelings of euphoria as well as auditory and visual hallucinations. Street slang for DXM use is “robo-tripping” or “skittling” and terms for the drug itself are DXM, DEX, CCC, Triple C, Skittles, Robo, Rojo, Velvet and Poor Man’s PCP. (Source: DEA)
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine. Developed in the late 1950's, fentanyl has been used for pain management and is available as a transdermal patch, tabs, lozenges and nasal spray. Since 2013, incidences of overdose deaths have increased significantly as a result of the use of pure fentanyl, fentanyl mixed with heroin, or fentanyl mixed with cocaine. Illicit fentanyl comes in the form of powder or pill and can be injected, snorted or sniffed, smoked, taken orally or absorbed from blotter paper. Fentanyl patches are sometimes frozen then cut into smaller doses. Common street names include: Apache, China Girl, China Town, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory, Murder 8 and Tango & Cash. Fentanyl produces feelings of relaxation, euphoria, sedation, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and respiratory depression. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous and can be accidently ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin or eyes. Exposure to the smallest amount can cause respiratory depression or death. (Source: DEA)
Other names: G, Liquid Ecstasy, Grievous Bodily Harm, Georgia Home Boy, Easy Lay, Goop, Liquid X, Scoop
GHB is often manufactured in homes or clandestine laboratories from recipes and ingredients found and purchased on the Internet. It is manufactured as either a clear liquid or a white powder that can be made into a tablet or capsule. It is typically sold by the capful or “swig.”
GHB is a central nervous system depressant. In low doses, it relaxes the body and relieves anxiety. As the dose increases, the sedative effect causes deep sleep, which is why GHB is grouped with the “date rape” drugs. Larger doses will result in dangerously slowed breathing and heart rates, as well as in coma and/or death. There is no way to tell how much GHB will cause adverse physical reactions that will lead to death—each person’s tolerance is different.
The drug is usually abused either for its intoxicating/sedative/euphoric properties or for its growth hormone-releasing effects, which can build muscles.
GHB’s intoxicating effects begin 10 to 20 minutes after the drug is taken. The effects typically last up to four hours, depending on the dosage.
GHB is cleared from the body relatively quickly, so it is sometimes difficult to detect in emergency rooms and other treatment facilities.
GBL and BD are sometimes substituted analogues for GHB and sold as “fish tank cleaner,” “ink stain remover,” “ink cartridge cleaner” and “nail enamel remover.”
Hallucinogens alter mood, thought, perception and brain function. This group of drugs includes such substances such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), ololiuqui (morning glory), psilocybin, mescaline (peyote) and PCP (phencyclidine). Ecstasy, MDMA, Spice, Ketamine, Marijuana, Steroids and Inhalants are classed by the DEA as hallucinogens. MDMA, or ecstasy, are tablets sold in many colors with a variety of logos to attract young abusers. LSD is sold as paper imprinted with colorful graphic designs.
The most commonly abused hallucinogens among youth are mushrooms, LSD, and MDMA or ecstasy. Hallucinogens can be taken orally, absorbed through the skin (LSD blotters) or smoked.
Use of hallucinogens produces changes in time and space perception, delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (experiencing unreal or distorted sensations) and the effect may be mild or overwhelming. Effects vary from person to person and use to use.
Many natural and synthetic hallucinogens exist. LSD, a synthetic, is the most potent and best studied. Mescaline (from the peyote cactus), psilocybin (from a mushroom found in Mexico), morning glory seeds, DMT, SOM (STP), PMA, MDA, and others have similar effects. Phencyclidine (PCP) is sometimes considered a hallucinogen, although it does not fit easily into any one category.
LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)
LSD was first formulated (from a fungus called “ergot”) in 1938. LSD’s psychoactive properties were discovered in 1943. Though some people who have taken these drugs say that they feel more creative, research has failed to show significant changes. New perceptions of the body and self have been reported, but these can be frightening as well as gratifying.
Nearly all LSD comes from illegal laboratories, both domestic and abroad. The quality of the drug varies. Some LSD is fairly pure, but most street samples contain impurities and adulterants. The user generally has no way of knowing the quality of LSD or any other street drug. Hallucinogens are extremely powerful drugs and taking them is a very risky proposition.
Under the influence of LSD, a person loses some control over normal thought processes. Although some perceptions are pleasant, others may cause panic or may make the user believe that he or she cannot be harmed. Either reaction may bring about behavior that can be harmful to the user. Longer-term harmful reactions include anxiety, depression or “breaks with reality” which may last from a few days to months. The exact cause-and-effect relationship between hallucinogens and emotional disruption is not known. When a person has experienced emotional disturbance before using, the drug may simply act to trigger the breakdown.
Common Street Names: Acid, Blotter, Blotter Acid, Cubes, Domes, Fry, Mind Candy, Boomers, Mellow Yellow, Window Pane, Yellow Sunshine, Angels in the Sky, Electric Cool Aid, Grape Parfait, Pizza, Potato, White Dust, Zen, Bart Simpson, Big D, Dots, Goofy, Pink Witches, Sugar Cubes, Sugar Lumps, Valley Dolls, Chinese Dragons, Blue Sky, Blue Chair, El Cid, Hawaiian Sunshine, Orange Haze, Lens, Newspapers, Paper Acid, Brown Bomber.
Effects: Effects vary widely according to dosage, personality of the user and conditions under which it is taken. Basically, LSD causes altered sensations. Vision alterations include changes in depth perception and in the meaning of a perceived object. Hallucinations are common. Sense of time and self are altered. Sensations may “cross over” (for example, music may be seen or color heard). Physical reactions range from such minor changes as dilated pupils, a rise in temperature and heartbeat or slight increase in blood pressure, to violent tremors. A user’s emotional response to LSD can vary widely. High does can significantly alter the state of consciousness.
PCP (Phencyclidine, 1-(1-phencyclohexy) piperdine
PCP is a synthetic drug that distorts sight and sound. It is available as a powder, crystal, tablet, capsule or liquid (with an apple juice appearance). PCP powder is water soluble and a common method of use is to dip a tobacco or marijuana cigarette in the PCP solution to smoke.
Common Street Names: Angel Dust, PCP, Embalming Fluid, Killer Weed, Boat, Tic Tac, Zoom, Shermans, Rocket Fuel, Hog, Ozone, Wack, Crystal, ACE, Angel Hair, Angel Mist, Aurora Borealis, Taking a Cruise, Peter Pan, Sherms, Shermstick, Spores, Columbo, Gorilla, Amoeba, Busy Bee, Butt Naked, Dummy Dust, Lemon 714, Green Tea, K-Blast.
Names for PCP combined with marijuana are: Zoom, Killer Joints, Supergrass, Fry, Lovelies, Wets, Waters
Wet Sticks refer to marijuana or tobacco cigarettes soaked in embalming fluid or ether and laced with PCP. Street names include: Amp, Wet, Sherm, Happy Sticks
Effects: PCP’s mind altering effects take effect within 5 minutes after smoking and may last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours depending on dose. PCP produces a feeling of numbness, slurred speech and loss of coordination and may also include feelings of strength and invulnerability. Severe side effects include violent behavior, seizures and coma. Wet Sticks induce blackouts, rage and violent behavior. (Source: DEA)
Other hallucinogens such as mescaline, peyote and San Pedro cactus have effects similar to LSD. Although they are generally not as strong, their effects on a user can be just as great, because the effect varies from person to person. In addition, street doses of these other drugs may actually be LSD itself, or may be contaminated with other drugs or adulterants.
Salvia Divinorum is a perennial herb which is often grown for its hallucinogenic effects. While native to Mexico, the plant can be grown in warm humid climates or indoors. Effects produced by chewing, smoking or vaporizing the plant include perceptions of bright lights, vivid colors and distortions of self or objects. Other effects include fear or panic, uncontrollable laughter, and hallucinations with a sense of overlapping realities. Adverse effects may include loss of coordination, dizziness and slurred speech. (Source: DEA Drugs of Abuse 2017).
More information about hallucinogens and other drugs of abuse, including photos, is available at Justice.gov.
Not only is heroin an illegal, highly addictive drug, it is also one of the most dangerous drugs for users to take. Heroin’s overdose rate is at epidemic proportions in many states. People of all ages are dying from heroin overdoses. Many were originally addicted to prescription opioids but have switched to heroin because it is cheap and easy to acquire. A recently identified high risk factor for heroin overdose is after a period of abstinence from the drug.
Addicts physically dependent on heroin develop tolerance to the drug’s effects and need higher doses to achieve the desired sense of euphoria. Eventually, the drug’s effects are no longer felt, and more is taken to simply avoid withdrawal symptoms. The dangers of addiction to this drug are very serious. Heroin is typically injected intravenously, and users run the risk of contracting HIV/AIDs from sharing needles or Hepatitis C from sharing cotton, water and other paraphernalia. A growing number of users are choosing to snort or smoke the drug. This method doesn’t lessen the dangers of addiction or overdose.
Common Street Names: Big H, H, Tar, Black Tar, Chiva, Hell Dust, Horse, Negra, Brown, B, Smack, Thunder, Dope, Boy, Bad Seed, Beyonce, Big Harry, Brown Crystal, Black Olives, Cement, Charlie Horse, Chocolate, Chocolate Balls, China White, Diesel, Coffee, Fairy Dust, Gato, Good and Plenty, White, White Boy, Witch, White Stuff, Turtle, Stufa, Mud, Nice and Easy, Joy Flakes, Hero, and Gravy.
Effects: While heroin users may feel an initial rush and feelings of euphoria upon use of the drug, these “positive” feelings are accompanied by many side effects which include: nausea, vomiting, severe itching, pupil constriction (“pinpoint” pupils), drowsiness for several hours. Mental functioning can be clouded by heroin’s effect on the central nervous system and slow the heart and breathing functions; resulting in death. Long-term side effects include: severe constipation, impaired vision, reduced sex drive and diminished fertility, menstrual irregularity, higher risk of heart problems, nightmares and hallucinations, mood swings and mental instability. Infections are the most common complication of heroin use, ranging from skin infections to infections of the heart and lungs. High risk of HIV/AIDS, tetanus, viral hepatitis, abscesses and collapsed veins as well as serious illnesses due to the blocking of pain messages may occur.
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal are comparable to those associated with a severe case of the flu. The process generally begins around the time the body expects the next dose of the drug and can last up to 10 days. Initial withdrawal symptoms include: muscle cramps and spasms, chills, fever and sweating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, watery eyes, runny nose, persistent yawning or a period of deep sleep.
What to Look For: Sticky, black tar heroin is usually found on paper. White powder heroin is typically sold in small aluminum foil folds or in tiny baggy ends tied shut. The ends are clipped off with a pair of scissors to use the contents. Small wax paper type bags are also sold with branded heroin which is stamped with a variety of names which vary based on area. Branded names include: Diesel, Kiss of Death, Ghost Busters, Outlaw, Game Over, Batman and Robin and Monster Powder to name a few.
Discarded aluminum foil with black residue is indicative of smoking heroin. A straw or other tube can be used to snort heroin. Those injecting heroin typically have a drug kit which includes scissors, a spoon, a water vial, needles, lighters, cotton and a bandana or other item to use as a tourniquet.
Inhalants are a group of chemicals including solvents, aerosols, adhesives, gases, cleaning agents, food products, anesthetics and volatile nitrites. These legal substances, most of which are found in everyday household products, are not normally thought of as drugs, but have drug-like effects on the user. The most familiar substances are paint and glue. But include nearly 600 common household, workshop and office products that are dangerous when inhaled. Those products include keyboard aerosol cleaners, felt-tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane and aerosol cooking sprays.
Inhalants are most often (though not exclusively) abused by young people, especially between the ages of 7 and 17 because inhalants are found in common household products, are inexpensive and easy to hide. Sometimes children unintentionally misuse these products. Parents need to be extra alert and see that these substances, like medicines, are kept away from children.
Inhalants are legally available for legitimate purposes, so regulating them to prevent misuse is difficult. Anything in an aerosol-propellant spray container can be abused. Other misused products are gasoline, transmission fluid, model and other glue, fingernail polish and remover, paint thinner, butane, disinfectant, furniture polish as well as, lighter fluid, oven cleaner, insecticide, hair spray, aerosol deodorant, turpentine and rust remover. Substances abused by inhaling also include nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and dry cleaning fluid. Some organic nitrites marketed as “room odorizers” appear to be packaged and distributed specifically for their abuse potential. Any nitrite, an inhalant with a legitimate medical use in treatment of heart patients, also is often abused.
Effects: During and shortly after inhalant use, the sniffer usually experiences dizziness, loss of muscle coordination, inability to think and behave normally, and, sometimes, abusive or violent behavior. Solvents and aerosol sprays also decrease the heart and respiratory rates and impair judgment. Amyl and butyl nitrite cause rapid pulse, headaches and involuntary passing of urine and feces. Long-term use may result in hepatitis or brain damage. Deeply inhaling the vapors or using large amounts over a short time may result in disorientation, violent behavior, unconsciousness or death.
What to Look For: There are many physical and emotional symptoms of inhalant abuse. One of the most evident symptoms is difficulty and problem behavior in school: failing grades, increased absences and general apathy. Other signs of inhalant use include hand tremors, drunk, dazed or dizzy appearance, red or running eyes or nose, unusual breath odor, excessive sweating, spots or sores around the mouth, paint or stains on the hands or clothing, chronic headaches, anxiety, excitability, irritability, nausea and loss of appetite.
Other names: K, Special K, Vitamin K, Super K, Jet K, K-Hold, K-Ways, Keller, Kelly's Day, Cat Valium, Cat Tranquilizer, Kit Kat, La Coke, Super Acid, Blind Squid,Green, Honey Oil,
Ketamine is an anesthetic that has been approved for medical use with both humans and animals. About 90% of the Ketamine legally sold today is intended for veterinary use.
Ketamine comes in liquid or as a white powder that can be smoked with marijuana or tobacco. It also can be injected.
Powdered Ketamine is cut into lines known as bumps and snorted. Liquid Ketamine can be mixed into drinks.
Ketamine is found by itself or often in combination with MDMA, amphetamine, methamphetamine, or cocaine.
Large doses of the drug can cause dream-like states and hallucinations. At higher doses, it can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Lower doses of the drug can impair attention, learning ability and memory.
Khat’s botanical name is Catha edulis and is a flowering shrub native to the Middle East and East Africa. It has been widely used for centuries as a recreational drug in these areas. There are two main chemicals in Khat that effect the central nervous system, cathinone and cathine. Cathinone levels decrease once the plant has been harvested and cooling or dehydrating the plant material slows the decline of the drug.
Khat’s effects include euphoria along with energy, increased alertness and hyperactivity and loss of appetite. Users are often relaxed and talkative. Effects last from 1.5 to 3 hours and after-effects may include a lack of concentration, numbness and insomnia. Chronic abuse of Khat may lead to physical exhaustion, anorexia, periodontal disease and psychological changes.
Fresh khat is chewed until all the juices are extracted. To counter the bitter taste, users drink large quantities of water or sweet drinks. Dried khat can be brewed as a tea or made into a chewable paste. (Source: DEA)
Street names include Khat, Qat, Kat, chat, Miraa, Quaadke.
Kratom is found in leaf form which can be chewed or crushed and smoked, brewed with tea or placed into gel capsules. This drug can act as a stimulant in low doses or as a sedative if taken in high doses. The use of Kratom can lead to psychotic symptoms and psychological addiction. Low doses produce increased alertness, physical energy and talkativeness. Kratom's side effects may include nausea, itching, sweating, dry mouth, constipation, increased urination and loss of appetite. Long-term users can experience anorexia, weight loss, insomnia, dry mouth, frequent urination and constipation. Kratom can be easily purchased but has no known medical usage in the United States. Source: DEA 2015 Edition Drugs of Abuse
Krokodile is widely used in Russia as a cheap substitute for heroin. Reports of Krokodile use in the United States has circulated as the drug produces the same, albeit shorter, narcotic-like high. Krokodile is an extremely dangerous drug that destroys blood cells and vessels causing tissue to erode from the inside out. The average life expectancy is no more than three years if Krokodile use is consistent.
Marijuana’s botanical name is Cannabis sativa and it is called by many slang names by users. The chief psychoactive (mind-altering) ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinoil, or THC. Hemp (marijuana) plants also contain more than 400 other chemicals.
Marijuana cigarettes (joints) are hand-rolled and made from the dried leaves, stems, flowers and seeds of the plant, which are typically a dry, green and brown mixture. Marijuana may be smoked in pipes or water pipes known as bongs. Blunts are cigars filled with a mixture of tobacco and marijuana. Marijuana is also added to food products and beverages or brewed as a tea.
Plant strain, climate, soil conditions, time of harvest and other factors determine the potency of marijuana. In recent years, the strength of street samples of marijuana has markedly increased. Some samples have been found to have a THC content as high as 38%. The long-term use of marijuana, or the use of more potent mixes, increases the physical and mental effects and possibly increases health problems, including learning and memory issues for the user.
Common Street Names: MJ, Mary Jane, Pot, Ganga, Weed, Grass, 420, Aunt Mary, Bud, Dope, Hash, Herb, Reefer, Smoke, Gangster, Joint, Acapulco Gold, Acapulco Red, Mother, Little Green Friends, Loco Weed, Mexican Green, Mexican Red, Mexican Brown, African Black, African Bush, Panama Cut, Panama Gold, Panama Red, Yellow Submarine, Yen Pop, Homegrown, Fluffy, Dimba, Green Goddess, Green Skunk, OJ, Manhattan Silver, Mary Ann, Mary Jones, Mary Warner, Mary Weaver, Dry High.
Effects: Increased heart rate, reddening of the eyes, dryness in the mouth and throat, altered perception and sense of time, impaired short-term memory, reduced concentration, reduced reaction and coordination. Enhanced hearing, vision and skin sensitivity are reported. Euphoria, relaxation, altered sense of body image and bouts of exaggerated laughter, loud talking or animated behavior.
Some users may experience anxiety, paranoia, psychosis and lack of coordination, which wears off after the acute drug effects wear off. While marijuana’s addictivness continues to be debated, those who discontinue frequent high-dose use of marijuana exhibit symptoms of withdrawal including irritability, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite and weight loss, sweating and stomach upset.
Adverse effects on health for youth include interference with the growth process. Research shows marijuana use impairs thinking, reading, verbal and math skills. Clinicians also believe the drug may interfere with the development of social skills and may encourage psychological escapism.
What to Look For: Altered judgment and concentration. Sweet odor from smoke. Rolling papers, pipes, water pipes. Seed and stem residue.
The passage of legal marijuana use in several states has introduced a large amount of THC laced candy, capsules, cookies, chocolate products, sodas and other products which may be purchased in states with legalized sales. Cannabis beverages, including energy drinks, may be purchased on-line.
In some areas marijuana is laced with heroin or small samples of heroin are being given free with the purchase of marijuana.
Wax is a concentrated form of marijuana extracted from hemp plant leaves using butane and alcohol. Wax is more potent than standard marijuana as the butane extracts the oils containing high levels of THC. Consequently, Wax may contain 60% to 90% concentrations of THC. Appearance ranges from a light brown or buttery color to clear.
Wax has been in use for at least a decade however it has become more available in recent years. It can be eaten, vaporized or smoked in a bong or e-cigarette. Many users store Wax in lip balm jars. Use is often called “dabbing.” A dab of wax is placed on a hot metal surface and the smoke is inhaled. The user is often incapacitated for a few minutes. Wax may cause unconsciousness.
Common Street Names: 246, Wax, Ear Wax, Canna Wax, Canna Oil, Butter, Budder, Badder, SAP, Honeycomb, Shatter (prepackaged 1gram product considered clean or pure - may be clear in appearance.) Honey Oil, BHO (Butane Honey Oil) and Amber.
What to Look For: High that lasts for hours or several days. E-cigarettes and lip balm jars. Butane and marijuana leaves.
Warnings: High concentrations of THC may cause extreme high that can last for days. Self-extraction of wax has caused home explosions, injuries and death.
Hashish, or hash as it is commonly called, is made from the THC-rich parts of the cannabis plant and come in the form of cakes, balls, or cookie-like pieces. Sections can be broken off and smoked in pipes. Hashish can range in color from dark brown to light brown.
Hashish oil is obtained by using a solvent to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material. Color and odor vary based on the solvent used to extract the oil. A drop of oil is placed on the end of a tobacco cigarette and has the equivalency of one marijuana cigarette. (Source: DEA)
Common Street Names: Hashish, Hash, Fluff Hash, Hash Oil, Liquid Hash and Cannabis Oil.
Effects: Euphoria, relaxation, loss of appetite, impaired memory and concentration, enhanced sense of taste, smell sight and hearing, disorientation, psychosis and lung irritation.
What to Look For: Animated behavior, loud talking, distortion of depth and time perception, loss of coordination, bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils.
Other names: Speed, Ice, Chalk, Meth, Crystal, Crank, Christine, Accordion, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Hot Ice, Shaved Ice, Jug of Water, Fire Glass, Batu, Bikers Coffee, Black Beauties, Chicken Feed, Chicken Powder, Crank, Glass, Go-Fast, Hiropon, Methlies, Quick, Poor Man’s Cocaine, Shabu, Shards, Speed, Stove Top, Tina, Trash, Tweak, Uppers, LA Ice, LA Glass, Ventana, Vidrio, Yaba, and Yellow Bam, Lemon Drops, Light Beige, Spicy Kind, Walking Zombie, Peanut Butter Crank and Colorado Rockies. (Source: DEA)
- Methamphetamine is a toxic, addictive stimulant that affects many areas of the central nervous system.
- Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in beverages. It can be smoked, snorted, injected or orally ingested. The drug is often made in underground laboratories from relatively inexpensive ingredients and produces a “skunky” or cat urine odor.
- Crystal Meth resembles glass shards or rocks and can range from blue to blue-white in color.
- Methamphetamine use is associated with serious health consequences, including memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior and potential cardiac and neurological damage.
- Methamphetamine users typically display signs of agitation, excited speech, decreased appetite and increased physical activity.
- Methamphetamine users are less able to process dopamine, a chemical produced by the adrenal gland that naturally relieves stress.
- Methamphetamine use is associated with higher rates of transmission of infectious diseases, especially hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C.
- A hallmark of chronic Methamphetamine abuse is dental problems. Because meth is manufactured with corrosive substances like acids and lithium, chronic meth smokers have teeth rotted to the gum line. The drug users’ teeth literally corrode away.
“ONE POT” Meth Lab
“One pot” meth labs, referred to as a “shake and bake,” have grown in popularity over the last few years. Using two-liter soda bottles, glass tubes, thermos or any other capped container, ingredients, which include anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer), pseudoephedrine tablets, water and a reactive metal such as lithium, are poured into the container, capped, shaken, then left by the side of the road or in a remote location. After several hours, the mix is retrieved. There is a high incidence of flash fires resulting from the “one pot” method.
What to Look For: If Snorted: Methamphetamine use may cause irritation and nose bleeds. Residue may be seen inside the nose or dripping from it. If Injected: If a person injects methamphetamine, puncture wounds will be visible over blood vessels. Although one can’t tell from an injection site what kind of drug has been used, methamphetamine often causes a great deal of trauma and damage to skin tissue. If Smoked: If a person smokes “ice,” it’s not unusual to see burn marks on the lips, face and hands. This is caused by the hot pipe or the flame used to heat the pipe.
Other names: Ecstasy, XTC, X, Adam, Clarity, Lover’s Speed, Molly (pure), Baby Slits, Bean, Blue Kisses, Booty Juice, Candy, Chocolate Chips, Dancing Shoes, Decadence, Doctor, E-Bomb, E, Essence, Eve, Kleenex, Love Potion #9, Moon Rock, Rolling, Running, Scooby Snacks, Skittle, Sweets, Smartees
- MDMA was developed and patented in the early 1900s as an appetite suppressant, although it was never tested on people. MDMA is taken orally, usually in a tablet or capsule form.
- Because MDMA is similar to the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline, it can produce both stimulant and psychedelic effects in users. MDMA’s effects last approximately three to six hours. However, the confusion, depression, sleep problems and other associated effects can last weeks after the drug is taken.
- One’s sense of touch and sexual pleasure is reportedly greatly intensified when under the influence of MDMA, hence the origin of one of its street names—ecstasy—and one of the reasons it is cited as a “date rape” drug.
- Chronic use of MDMA can produce long-lasting, perhaps permanent, brain damage and memory impairment. MDMA use may lead to heart attacks, strokes and seizures. In high doses, it can be extremely dangerous, even fatal.
- The stimulant effect of MDMA enables users to dance or perform other physical activity for extended periods. This may lead to dehydration, hypertension and heart or kidney failure.
Also known on the streets as N-bomb, Smiles, 25I, 25C or 25B, this synthetic designer drug is sold online and on the streets as a hallucinogen similar to LSD. NBOMe can be found as a powder or liquid and is placed in edible items or infused onto blotter papers. The DEA reports small amounts can cause seizures, cardiac and respiratory arrest and death. (Source: DEA)
OxyCodone and Other Drugs
The abuse of prescription medications has become a serious issue leading to addiction and causing serious injury or death. Prescription drugs can be beneficial when used properly however some can be addictive and have a high incidence of abuse. Prescription opioids are the most desired, especially those that can be crushed, snorted or combined with other drugs.
Three types of drugs, opioids; prescribed for pain relief, depressants; typically used for anxiety or sleep problems and stimulants; used for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and obesity are the most abused. Commonly abused prescription medications include:
- Opana (oxymorphone) with street names such as Blue Heaven, Blues, Mrs. O, New Blues, Octagons, Oranges, Orgasna, IR, OM, Pink, Pink Heaven, Pink Lady, Pink O, Stop Signs and The O Bomb
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone) known as Dust, Juice, Smack, D, Footballs
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, OxyIR, OxyFast) commonly referred to as Oxycotton, Cotton, Blue, Hillbilly Heroin, Ox, O’s, Kicker, OCs Oxy, Heroin.10, Pills, 30s, 40s, 40-Bar, 80, Poor Man’s Heroin, Beans, Whites (Source: DEA)
Illicit prescription drug-seeking tactics include: Emergency calls or visits near the end of office hours, refusal to undergo appropriate exams, testing or referral, repeated loss of prescriptions, tampering with prescriptions and reluctance to provide prior medical records or contact info for other treating physicians. “Doctor shopping” to obtain additional prescriptions is also common. Other means of obtaining prescription drugs is by theft, through forged prescriptions or from internet pharmacies.
In Ohio, the average per capita rate of prescription opiate consumption was 66.7 doses in 2011 (Source: Ohio Department of Alcohol Drug Addiction Services). Youth use parent’s medicine cabinets as a source of opioid medications.
A list of commonly abused prescription drugs, including street names and their effects, is available through the National Institute on Drug Abuse at Drugabuse.gov
A mixture of prescription-strength cough syrup, codeine and promethazine (not DXM) with SpriteTM or Mountain DewTM and an optional Jolly RancherTM candy for flavor. Side effects include euphoria, impaired motor skills, slowed movements, lethargy, drowsiness and disassociation from the body. Purple Drank may also cause dizziness, blurred vision and hallucinations. Street references include ACT, Sizurup, Sizzurp, Lean, Southern Lean, Syrup, Drank, Barre, Oil, Purple, Purple Jelly, Purple Tonic, Texas Tea.
Other name: Roofies, Rophies, Roche, The Forget-Me Pill, The Date Rape Drug
- Rohypnol® (flunitrazepam) belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which include Valium®, Halcion®, Xanax® and Versed®. It is not approved for prescription use in the U.S., although it is approved in Europe and is used in more than 60 countries as a treatment for insomnia, as a sedative and as an anesthetic.
- Rohypnol® is tasteless and odorless, and it dissolves easily in carbonated beverages. It’s usually taken orally, although it can be ground up and snorted.
- The drug can cause amnesia. Individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the influence of the drug. This may be why one of the street names for Rhypnol® is “the date rape drug”—the drug has been used in sexual assaults.
- A dose of Rohypnol® as small as 1 mg. can impair a user for 8 to 12 hours. The sedative and toxic effects are intensified if taken with alcohol.
- Other adverse effects associated with Rohypnol® include decreased blood pressure, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances and urine retention.
Spice (Synthetic Marijuana)
Spice is a synthetic chemical developed when research was conducted to develop an alternative to medical marijuana. The main chemicals in Spice, a combination of synthetic cannabinoid compounds, have multiple variations and are typically sprayed onto herbal or tobacco mixtures to be smoked or used as an herbal infused drink.
Marketed as a “legal high,” Spice is easy to find and is sold on the internet, at gas stations, convenient stores and in “head shops.” In stores, Spice is sold as incense and labeled “not for human consumption.” Spice is also manufactured on the street by amateur chemists.
Common Street Names: K2, JWH or XLR (followed by two to three numbers which identify the variant), Smoke, Happy Shaman Herb, Skunk, Fake Weed, Yucatan Fire, Moon Rocks and Smacked
Effects: In lower doses Spice causes euphoria, relaxation, elevated mood, altered perception. In higher doses Spice may cause agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, vomiting, confusion, racing heart and increased blood pressure. Regular users may experience withdrawal symptoms.
What to Look For: Signs of intoxication, packaged herbal mixtures labeled as incense or herbal incense, herbal tobacco blends and rolling papers.
More information on Spice is available through the National Institute of Health.
Anabolic steroids are a synthetic testosterone used by both men and women to gain muscle, improve athletic skills or to achieve a muscular appearance. Steroids can be injected intramuscularly, absorbed through the use of gels, creams or patches, or ingested in caplet or tablet form. While steroids do not create an euphoric feeling when used, many people continue to use them despite adverse side effects. In males, side effects can include: acne, stunted growth, testicle shrinkage and enlarged breasts. In women, voices deepen, facial and body hair can increase, acne outbreaks and menstrual irregularities. Both men and women can experience mood swings including rage and hostility, impaired judgment and increased risk of heart disease or liver damage.
Common Street Names Include: Arnolds, Weight Gainers, Roids, Stackers, Juice, Gym Candy and Gear.
U-47700 (U4 or PINK)
U-47700, also referred to as U4 or PINK, is a fentanyl derivative synthetic opioid. Easily purchased online, the white powder produces a euphoric relaxation then respiratory depression. The powder can have a pink hue thus the name PINK. U-47700 can also be pressed into pill form and is sometimes made to look like oxycodone pills.