Drug effects and signs



Marijuana is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. In a more concentrated, resinous form, it is called hashish, and as a sticky black liquid, hash oil. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC

Forms of the drug:

  • Marijuana is the most common and least powerful form of cannabis. It is made from dried plant leaves and flowers. The flowers, or ‘heads’, are the most potent forms of the plant. Marijuana resembles chopped grass and ranges in color from grey-green to greenish-brown. It is usually smoked in a pipe, a water pipe (bong) or in a hand-rolled cigarette (joint).
  • Hashish consists of small blocks of dried cannabis resin. Blocks range in color from light brown to nearly black. The concentration of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) in hashish is higher than in marijuana.
  • Hash oil is a thick, oily liquid extracted from hashish and ranges in color from golden-brown to black. It is usually spread on the tip or paper of cigarettes and then smoked. Hash oil is more powerful than the other forms of cannabis.

 Symptoms/ Signs of use:

Behavioral Signs of Marijuana Use:

  • Lack of motivation or ambition for activities that once excited the user.
  • In many cases, participation in sports, social groups, or other pursuits will wane or even cease entirely.
  • Performance in school or in the workplace will begin to decline, coupled with a sense of apathy towards this decline.
  • Withdrawal from the family system – This is most often the case with adolescents and young adults, but can be a warning sign for adults as well.
  • Drastic change in peer group – An addict will often abandon peer groups in favor of those who share similar desires and behaviors, namely those engaging in drug use.
  • Personal hygiene may begin to suffer as he or she is less concerned with their public appearance.
  • Depressive style of mood. Marijuana addicts manifest many of the same characteristics as those suffering from depression. An addict will have a flat affect and mood; he or she will appear lazy and day-to-day functioning will start to deteriorate on every major life level.
  • Aversive, avoidant behavior

Physical Signs of Marijuana Use:

Marijuana is a drug of convenience; for a relatively small amount of money, a person can buy enough that can be shared with several people but still transports easily in a pocket or bag. Furthermore, pot can be purchased in almost any neighborhood, thus contributing to the pervasive nature of the drug. It is also considered a drug of convenience because it is easily concealed, both for transport and use. This is why it has become widely popular with adolescents or young adults who have a lot of authority figures involved in their lives. Unlike alcohol, where the signs of use are often overt and overwhelming, a marijuana user can often conceal their use in the event that they are under scrutiny, often with such simple remedies as a quick shower or a few drops of Visine.

However, there are still some physical characteristics that can be used to identify if a loved one is using marijuana, available below:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slowed speech
  • Averting eye contact or an unsteady gaze.Finally, many people ask about the smell of marijuana and whether or not that can be used as a distinguishing factor. The sense of smell is very personal; one person’s perception of a smell could be dramatically different from a friend or colleague even if they are investigating the same smell. It is recommended that you concentrate on physical symptoms to identify marijuana use than speculating on the fickle nature of smells.



In its most common form, cocaine is a whitish crystalline powder that produces feelings of euphoria when ingested.

Now classified as a Schedule II drug, cocaine has legitimate medical uses as well as a long history of recreational abuse. Administered by a licensed physician, the drug can be used as a local anesthetic for certain eye and ear problems and in some kinds of surgery.

Forms of the drug

In powder form, cocaine is known by such street names as “coke,” “blow,” “C,” “flake,” “snow” and “toot.” It is most commonly inhaled or “snorted.” It may also be dissolved in water and injected.

Crack is a smokable form of cocaine that produces an immediate and more intense high. It comes in off-white chunks or chips called “rocks.” Little crumbs of crack are sometimes called “kibbles & bits.”

In addition to their stand-alone use, both cocaine and crack are often mixed with other substances. Cocaine may be mixed with methcathinone (a more recent drug of abuse, known as “cat,” that is similar to methamphetamine) to create a “wildcat.” A hollowed-out cigar filled with a mixture of crack and marijuana is known as a “woolah.” And either cocaine or crack used in conjunction with heroin is called a “speed-ball.” Cocaine used together with alcohol represents the most common fatal two-drug combination.

Behavioral Signs of Cocaine Use:

Does the individual leave the room and then return in a different mood, appearing more confident or upbeat? Do you notice the following:

  • Increased activity
  • Hyper behavior
  • Violence
  • Decreased desire to eat or sleep
  • Impulsive decisions, or high risk sexual choices
  • After-effects of cocaine use may be lethargy, intense sleepiness and often depression.
  • Large amounts of cocaine may intensify the user’s high but can also lead to changes of behavior. Some cocaine users report feelings of restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic, and paranoia.

Physical Signs of Cocaine Use:

  • Dilated pupils, increased light sensitivity, and traces of white powder around the nose are clues to recent cocaine use.
  • Regularly snorting cocaine can lead to a chronically inflamed, runny nose. Frequent nose bleeds or even damage to the nasal septum can also be signs.
  • People who inject cocaine have puncture marks called “tracks,” most commonly at their forearms.

Crystal Meth


Methamphetamine (“meth”) is an addictive stimulant that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. “Crystal meth” is a very pure, smokeable form of methamphetamine. Meth is a crystal-like powdered substance that sometimes comes in large rock-like chunks. When the powder flakes off the rock, the shards look like glass, which is another nickname for meth. Meth is usually white or slightly yellow, depending on the purity. Crystal meth looks like clear crystal chunks, like ice. Methamphetamine can be taken orally, injected, snorted, or smoked.

Forms of the drug:

It can come in several different forms – including tablets, powder, or crystals. The tablets are sometimes referred to as ‘yaba’ and the smokeable crystals are often called ‘Crystal Meth’ or ‘Ice’. On average, a gram of Crystal Meth is £40 – £45 and £15 for one hit on the street. 4-methylamphetamine has been reported as looking like damp paste or putty.

Behavioral Signs of Crystal Meth Use:

Meth symptoms vary with amount of meth used, method of ingestion and the other factors. General, psychological methamphetamine symptoms during meth use include:

  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety, irritability, aggression, paranoia
  • Increased libido
  • Energy, alertness
  • Increased concentration
  • Self-esteem, self-confidence, grandiosity
  • Sociability
  • Hallucinations, psychosis

Physical Signs of Crystal Meth Use:

Methamphetamine symptoms are also common physically, and again vary by individual. Physical methamphetamine symptoms include:

  • Restlessness, hyperactivity
  • Twitching, tremors, numbness, repetitive and obsessive behaviors
  • Anorexia
  • Dilated pupils, flushing
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Increased body temperature, sweating
  • Diarrhea, constipation
  • Blurred vision, dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry and/or itchy skin, acne
  • Convulsions, heart attack, stroke, death

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Description: MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), popularly known as ecstasy, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception.

MDMA was initially popular among White adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene or at “raves” (long dance parties), but the drug now affects a broader range of users and ethnicities.

Forms of the drug:

Pure MDMA is a white powder but street ecstasy is usually pressed into pills, usually colored and stamped with different ‘brand logos’ such as Mitsubishi, Rolls Royce, etc.
Brands are meant to help users gauge what they are buying. Quality brands, however, are quickly imitated by inferior pills.

Behavioral Signs of Ecstasy Use:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Increased aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Short term memory loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of inhibitions

Physical Signs of Ecstasy Use:

  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Faintness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Liver and kidney failure
  • Increased tolerance and dependence



Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy. It is a “downer” or depressant that affects the brain’s pleasure systems and interferes with the brain’s ability to perceive pain.

Forms of the drug:

Usually a powder containing heroin (diacetylmorphine) hydrochloride and some kind of filler. This can be snorted or injected, sometimes it is heated on foil to create vapors to inhale, rarely it is eaten.

Other forms containing heroin hydrochloride are available. There are many differently colors, consistencies, and potencies of powder heroin.

Black tar or tar heroin is a less refined form of heroin hydrochloride that is sticky like opium.

Sometimes heroin base is found which is often smoked on foil but can be injected if combined with acid.

A new form targeted at children is cheese which is a powder with a small amount of heroin mixed with over the counter pills, often cold remedies.

Behavioral Signs of heroin Use:

  • Distancing from family and friends, spending more time “out” without reason
  • Decreased performance in work of school
  • Decreased personal care, such as not showering or changing clothes
  • Unexplained expenses

Physical Signs of heroin Use:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dropping in and out of wakefulness
  • Vomiting
  • Flushing of skin
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Restlessness (during withdrawal)



Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. It is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. A standard drink equals 0.6 ounces of pure ethanol, or 12 ounces of beer; 8 ounces of malt liquor; 5 ounces of wine; or 1.5 ounces (a “shot”) of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey).

Forms of the drug:

The three major categories of alcohol are beer, wine, and spirits. Other forms include Vodka, Rum, Bourbon, Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, Tequila, Irish Crème, Liqueurs (Coffee, Raspberry, Orange, Peach, etc.), Schnapps, Gin. The list goes on and on.

Behavioral Signs of alcohol Use:

  • Skipping class, declining grades, getting in trouble at school
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work-  loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise-  decreased motivation
  • Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates
  • Missing money, valuables, prescription or prescription drugs, borrowing and stealing money
  • Acting isolated, silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Clashes with family values and beliefs
  • Preoccupation with alcohol and drug-related lifestyle in music, clothing and posters
  • Demanding more privacy, locking doors and avoiding eye contact
  • Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities)
  • Using incense, perfume, air freshener to hide smell of smoke or drugs
  • Using eyedrops to mask bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils

Physical Signs of Cocaine Use:

  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Poor balance and clumsiness
  • Delayed reflexes
  • Stomach pains, vomiting or nausea
  • Loss of consciousness or blacking-out
  • Redness of the face during or after periods of consumption