What are drugs?

Drugs are chemicals that change the way a person’s body works. There are legal and illegal drugs. Drugs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes you can take them in different ways as well. You can sniff some, you can swallow them or you can smoke them. Drugs can be addictive. Addiction means if you take a lot of them you can’t stop having them and it will continue to harm you.

Medicines are legal drugs

If you’ve ever been sick and had to take medicine, you already know about one kind of drugs. Medicines are legal drugs, meaning doctors are allowed to prescribe them for patients, stores can sell them, and people are allowed to buy them. But it’s not legal, or safe, for people to use these medicines any way they want or to buy them from people who are selling them illegally.

Cigarettes and alcohol

Cigarettes and alcohol are two other kinds of legal drugs. We have covered these already. If you want more information on these drugs, click on the links.

Gases, glues and aerosols (solvent abuse)

Products such as lighter gas refills, aerosols containing products such as hairspray, deodorants and air fresheners, tins or tubes of glue, some paints, thinners and correcting fluids. These are very dangerous and could really damage your health.

Illegal Drugs

When people talk about the “drug problem,” they usually mean abusing legal drugs or using illegal drugs, such as marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, and heroin, but can also often include solvent abuse.


Marijuana, draw, blow, weed, puff, hashish, hash, ganja, skunk, spliff, wacky backy. A solid, dark lump known as ‘resin’, leaves, stalks and seeds called ‘grass’, a sticky, dark oil – ‘hash oil’. Can be rolled (usually with tobacco) in a spliff or joint, smoked on its own in a special pipe, or cooked and eaten in food. Effects start after a few minutes, and last an hour or more. Cooking the drug then eating it delays the effects, and makes them more intense (stronger) but harder to control.

It may affect short-term memory and reduce concentration and coordination. Users feel relaxed, talkative and giggly. Smoking it over a long period of time may lead to respiratory (breathing) illnesses, including cancers. It can leave users tired and lacking motivation and energy and this can be severe if a lot is used over a long period of time. Use may be especially risky for people with mental illness such as schizophrenia.


Other names include speed, uppers, whizz, billy, amph and sulphate. They stimulate the nervous system and keep you awake. They speed up breathing and heart rate and make the user feel energetic and sometimes exhilarated. It can also give a feeling of self-confidence.

What can happen if you take them?

At low doses, they can cause mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability and restlessness. They can give you extra energy in the short term, but they can leave users feeling tired and depressed for one or two days afterward sometimes longer. High doses repeated over a few days may cause panic and hallucinations. Injection, when needles or syringes are shared, carries the risk of HIV, viral hepatitis and other infections.
Long-term usage can cause insomnia (not being able to sleep), paranoia and mental confusion. Users can become physically run down because of lack of sleep and food. Heavy users can also suffer from severe depression.

Short version of the interview with Drugsline Chabad.

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