Drugs: The Facts

We’ve all seen loads of anti-drug campaign ads on TV (like the one below) and posters pinned up at school. However, nearly all of us at some stage in our lives will know someone that takes drugs, and that someone may end up being you.

It’s important to have an understanding of why people use drugs in the first place, what different types of drugs are out there, and what their effects are. All drugs have have risks that can have big impacts on your life, so it’s important to know the facts, how to party safe and how you can say no.


People take or use drugs for a many different reasons; to relax, to have some fun, to stop feeling pain, to experiment, to rebel, to fit in or to stand out!

Whatever the reason if you do decide to take drugs it should ALWAYS be YOUR choice to do it, no one else’s, so make sure you know all about the drug, how it could affect you and what to do if things go wrong so you can make an informed choice.

Different types of drugs and their effects

So there are heaps of drugs out there, and they have so many different names, let’s break ‘em down into three groups:

UPPERS: These types of drugs act as stimulants, that means they affect and speed up our bodies most basic functions such as body temperature, heart rate and breathing. They also decrease feelings of hunger and thirst, so dehydration is a very common side-effect of these drugs. In some people uppers can temporarily increase energy, confidence and alertness, while others may experience aggressiveness, increased anxiety or restlessness. Uppers also affect our brain’s pleasure center which is why these drugs can be really addictive. Uppers include cocaine, amphetaminesspeed, mephedrone and meth/ICE.

DOWNERS: Like uppers, downers affect our basic body functions, but instead of speeding up processes they slow them down a lot, some functions even stop. This is why people on downers experience sedation (or calmness), little control over their emotions and actions, muscle relaxation and drowsiness. Downers include alcohol, heroin, GHB, and many addictive prescription drugs like Valium, Xanax, Oxycotin and Ketamine.

ALL-ROUNDERS: These drugs can be either stimulants or depressors but they are in this category because they are all hallucinogens. All-rounders alter a person’s perception of reality by affecting the part of the brain that detects senses such as sight, sound and touch. When this section of the brain is mixed up people can see or hear things (hallucinations), and not surprisingly their reasoning and judgment skills are often affected too. All-rounders include marijuana, ecstasy, mushrooms and Acid/LSD.

How to Say No

Plucking up the courage to say no to using drugs can be really hard, especially if it’s your friends who are using and doing the offering. After all, wanting to belong to the group is a totally normal part of being a human being!

If you find you are being pressured by friends or family to try drugs and you don’t want to, here are some tips on how to say no:

Just say ‘No’: While it sounds simple, saying ‘No’ can be really difficult. But more often than not telling the truth and sticking to it is the best way of getting out of this situation. Remember it is pretty hard to argue with someone who says ‘No, I don’t want to.’

If you make up an excuse, people can often use it to add more pressure and try even harder to convince you.

If saying ‘No’ isn’t working:

Avoid: If you have said no and the person trying to convince you to take drugs is being pushy, it can be a good idea to remove yourself from them and the situation.
Go and talk with some other friends, have a dance or if you are feeling a bit over-it call a taxi and head home to your comfy bed! Try telling them “Not tonight, thanks” or “I’m not in the mood.” Another option may be to tell the person that you are sticking to alcohol tonight and then pretend to go off to buy another drink, or you could pretend you have gotten an important phone call, or that you are feeling a bit sick and are heading home.

Another way to avoid situations where you feel pressured to take drugs is to hang around with friends who share your values. Becoming friends with people who share similar interests as you may help you avoid situations where you may feel pressured into doing things you don’t want to.

Remember true friends should respect and accept your decisions, not make you feel uncomfortable.

Important things to remember if you are thinking about taking drugs
  • Remember that people are effected by drugs differently, just because one person is having a good high doesn’t guarantee that you will.
  • This is pretty obvious but important to remember, illicit drugs are illegal and you can face tough punishments for using, carrying and selling.
  • A drug’s effects depends on many things including your body type, your mental state, the source of the drug, it’s quality, strength, amount of drug taken and the way it is taken.
  • Do not take drugs if you are drinking alcohol or taking any medication as they can mix together and have very serious effects on your health.
  • Don’t take drugs if you are feeling upset, angry or sad, as the drug may cause these feeling to grow stronger. There are much better ways to help yourself when you are feeling like this.
    Beyond Blue
    has some great info on how you work through issues, without relying on drugs or alcohol.
  • If you do choose to use a drug, make sure you know what drug you are taking and what it contains. Other good things to know are where the drug was made and who the person is that is selling it to you. Let a friend know what you have taken too so that if anything goes wrong they can tell the doctor or ambulance workers if you are unable to.
  • Finally, if something does go wrong, call 000. If you need to call an ambulance they will not get the police involved, or get you in to trouble. They are only there to help so don’t be afraid to call an ambulance if you need one.

Have a look around this site to find out all the street names for different drugs so you know what you are being offered.

Get the Effects by Text 0439 TELL ME -SMS the name of any drug and they will send you a message back with the drugs details and effects. Standard network costs apply, messages received are free!

Click here for more details on some of the most commonly used drugs in Australia.