Street names: Marijuana, grass, weed, pot, dope, ganja, hashish, hash, hash oil, weed oil, honey oil
Cannabis is an illegal drug that comes from hemp plants with a high concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The drug has three common forms:
- • Marijuana: the dried leaves and flower buds of the cannabis plant;
- • Hash: a compressed resin that comes from the flower buds; and
- • Hashish oil: an oil that is produced by boiling the flower buds or hash resin in an organic solvent.
How it is used
Cannabis is often smoked, by being rolled into a joint on its own or mixed with tobacco. It is also sometimes smoked in a pipe. Less commonly if is sometimes cooked into foods, like brownies or added to a drink like milk.
While this drug is reported to be the most commonly used illegal drug in Canada, its use is typically infrequent and experimental.
The cannabis plant has a distinct appearance, with seven elongated leaves radiating out from a common centre, giving it an appearance much like an open human hand with the fingers spread apart. One of the most distinctive features of cannabis is its smell, which is very strong and recognizable.
The dried leaves look like a lumpy mix of green herbs, while hash can have a range of colours, from a lighter yellow to a darker brown, and looks somewhat like a bouillon cube with a smooth almost oil-like texture. Hash oil is a brown coloured oil that is normally stored in a small glass vial or sealed plastic bag.
Effects of cannabis
People who use cannabis regularly can develop a psychological and/or mild physical addiction.
When smoked or consumed, a person can have a range of experiences as well as intensity of experience, based on a number of factors. This can range from feeling relaxed, lively and giggly to tense, confused and anxious. The same person may have a different experience from one time they take the drug to another. When taken at high doses a person is much more likely to have a negative experience that in the most extreme cases can include pseudo or real hallucinations.
Chronic, heavy use of cannabis can have a number of negative long-term effects, which includes the possibility of developing cancer, bronchitis and reduced motivation at work and school.
There is also evidence that regular and heavy use of cannabis may impair memory, attention as well as the ability to process complex information and that these difficulties may continue anywhere from weeks to years after the person stops using the drug.
There may be a link between chronic heavy use of cannabis and the onset of schizophrenia, although it is not known heavy cannabis is the cause or a correlated coping mechanism. The current medical evidence indicates that people with schizophrenia who continue to use cannabis experience more acute psychotic symptoms and that this worsens the course of the illness.
Cocaine and Crack
Street names: crack, freebase, rock, work, base, iron, heavy
Cocaine is an illegal drug that is made from the leaves of the coco bush, a plant native to South America. The powder form of the drug is called cocaine and the rock crystal form is called crack or freebase.
Cocaine and crack act as powerful stimulants and are highly addictive.
The drug affects the central nervous system, creating an intense feeling of intellectual sharpness and physical strength. It also suppresses fatigue, curbs hunger and cuts back on the need for sleep. For thousands of years people living in the Andes Mountains, where the plant grows natively, would chew on coco leaves to lessen hunger and fatigue.
How it is used
The powder form of cocaine can be taken orally, snorted or injected. The crystal form of the drug can be smoked or snorted. The paste form, which is not commonly found in Canada, is smoked.
Recognizing Cocaine and Crack
The drug comes in three forms: a powder, a crystal solid and a paste.
Cocaine is the powder form. It is a fine, white crystalline powder and is a salt form of the drug.
Crack or freebase is the base form of the drug and is the purest form. It is white or off-white and looks like irregularly shaped rocks. This form of the drug makes a crackling sound when heated and smoked, which is why it is called crack.
Effects of cocaine and crack
As a stimulant, cocaine and crack affect the reward centre of the brain, creating a feeling of euphoria that starts within a few minutes of the drug being taken and can last for a few minutes up to an hour depending on how it is used.
A person using the drug may feel energetic, talkative and mentally alert. The person may also have an increased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as reduced fatigue, appetite and need for sleep.
The intensity of the effect, as well as the duration, will depend on which form of the drug is used and how quickly the drug is absorbed into the body.
The effect from smoking crack or injecting cocaine is more immediate and will typically last from 5 to 10 minutes. When the powder form is snorted it takes longer for the drug to take effect, but the experience will typically last from 15 to 30 minutes.
Individuals who use cocaine/crack also experience lowered inhibitions, which can lead the person to act dangerously and recklessly, committing acts such as violent crimes, sexual assaults or compulsively spending money.
Since the effect of the drug is felt for a very short time, when it wears off a person may feel depressed or anxious. This creates a tendency to reuse the drug immediately or "binge."
Regular use of cocaine and crack can result in:
- • Brain damage
- • Erratic moods, behaviours and possibly psychosis
- • Violent behaviour
- • Mental and physical exhaustion
- • Suicidal thoughts
- • Nose and sinus problems
- • Heart problems
- • Sleeping and eating problems
- • Severe breathing and lung problems ("crack lung")
- • Birth defects
- • Impotence
A cocaine overdose can cause a heart attack, stroke, seizures or respiratory arrest.
Cocaine and crack are highly addictive, with crack being the most addictive form of the drug. An addiction to cocaine or crack creates a powerful psychological dependence, which makes it difficult for someone to stop thinking about or using the drug. It also creates a physical dependence.
Street names: diamorphine, black tar, brown sugar, dope, hezza, horse, skag, dust, smack, junk, H, big H, hell dust, nose drops, thunder, China white
Heroin is an illegal drug that is synthesized from morphine, which in turn is derived from opium, the juice that is secreted by seeds of the poppy plant.
Use of heroin in Canada was first prohibited when the country's first narcotic drug regulation, The Opium Act, was introduced in 1908 to regulate opium produced, sold or possessed for non-medical reasons. The illegal drug is now governed by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), where it is listed as a controlled substance under Schedule 1, which contains the most dangerous drugs.
Heroin is often "cut" with other additives, which can change its appearance and reduce its purity. As with all illegal drugs, the manufacturing process and other chemicals used to produce the drug can vary significantly.
CAMH reports that the purity of heroin sold on the street can range anywhere from two to 98 per cent. In May 2013 the RCMP warned the public after two men died after being sold drugs that they believed to be heroin, but were actually Fentany.
How it is used
Heroin can be dissolved in water and injected directly into a vein or under the muscle or skin. It can also be smoked or snorted.
The purest forms of heroin are a white powder. As the drug is mixed with other substances its texture and colour can change, with less pure forms having colouration that can range from beige to brown depending on what other substance has been "cut" with. There is also a dark brown or black version of the drug that has a tar-like feel.
Effects of heroin
The body has opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and some internal organs. When an opioid like heroin is taken it activates these receptors, which create a euphoric feeling and analgesic effect, where physical pain is significantly reduced or not felt at all.
Heroin users will typically feel a brief rush, followed by a feeling of tranquility that lasts for up to an hour that is known as being "on the nod."
The initial rush is most intense when heroin is injected into a vein and will typically be felt within a few seconds and last from 45 seconds to a few minutes. (Heroin injected under the skin takes longer to take effect.) When smoked or snorted the feeling is not as strong and the effects are typically felt within 10 t0 15 minutes. While on the nod the person will alternate between a wakeful and drowsy state, where breathing slows down and there is the possibility of respiratory failure.
Whether injected, snorted of smoked the effects of heroin typically last for three to five hours, depending on the dose.
Heroin's short-term effects include a suppression of pain and a feeling of euphoria followed by a sense of tranquility. Negative effects include nausea, vomiting, itching, sweating, slower breathing, pinpoint pupils, dizziness, constipation, headaches, confusion and a lack of emotion.
Chronic use of the drug can lead to collapsed veins, abscesses, liver disease, infection of the heart lining and valves, decreased libido, missed periods in women, breathing difficulties and even change a person's gene expression and brain plasticity.
Overdose is a serious risk when heroin is used, with the purity of the drug, use by injection or the use of heroin with another drug being three of the biggest risk factors. Signs of overdose, which is extremely dangerous, include a bluish tinge to person's the lips and nails, stomach spasms, constipation, a dry nose/ears/mouth, tongue discolouration, extremely small pupils, a weak pulse and shallow breathing, difficulty breathing or no breathing. Medical help must be sought immediately.
Heroin is highly addictive, both psychologically and physically, and users can develop an addiction within several weeks of regular use. A tolerance to the drug can also develop with regular use, which leads to higher use of the drug. Once a person is addicted, the drug must be used every six to 12 hours to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction can be treated effectively with Methadone or Suboxone maintenance, which prevents heroin withdrawal and reduces cravings.
NB: Other drug abuse substances include: Ecstacy, Pecidine, Methadone & Suboxone, Methamphetamine, Opiate and all their treatments can be accessed at the YOUTH, ADULT and FAMILY