There are lots of different types of drugs. Some drugs are prescribed by a doctor for illnesses but when people talk about drugs they usually mean drugs that are illegal or unsafe.
There are the three main types of drugs – depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants. These all have different effects on your body and brain and you can never be completely sure how you will react to them which is what makes drugs so dangerous.
Generally, depressants (such as cannabis) slow you down making you feel chilled out and relaxed – potentially to the point where your breathing and heart rate slow down to a fatal level.
Stimulants (such as ecstasy) bring you up increasing your alertness and possibly the pressure on your heart risking heart failure.
Hallucinogens (such as LSD) distort your senses changing the way you respond to sights, sounds and touch which could be pleasurable or frightening resulting in negative psychological effects.
Each particular drug within the 3 broad categories has its own specific effects and risks.
New Psychoactive Substances
These drugs used to be called “Legal Highs” but they are no longer legal to produce, supply or import for human consumption. There’s not enough known about these to know about their potency, their effects on people, or what happens when they’re used with other substances or alcohol, but they have been linked to poisoning, emergency hospital admissions and, in some cases, deaths.
The effects of a drug can depend on the properties of the drug itself, the mood of the person taking it and their expectations and the environment within which the drug is taken.
If you’re going to take drugs, or you’re with people who are it’s important you know what to do in case of an emergency. There’s always a risk someone will have a bad time, fall ill, hurt themselves or even worse.
Here’s what you need to know should you ever have to help a friend or relative who’s having a bad reaction to a drug.
Want to know more about a drug, their effects and the law?
FRANK has compiled an A‑Z of drugs. Here you can find out each drug’s different names, the effects it has, the risks involved and what the law says.