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Frequently Asked Questions

What are drugs?

A drug is any substance (with the exception of food and water) which, when taken into the body, alters the body’s function either physically and/or psychologically. Drugs may be legal (e.g. alcohol, caffeine and tobacco) or illegal (e.g. cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin).

Psychoactive drugs affect the central nervous system and alter a person's mood, thinking and behaviour. Psychoactive drugs may be divided into four categories: depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens and 'other'.

The effects of drugs will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

Some people become depressed, angry, aggressive, sleepy, unmotivated, paranoid, anxious or talkative. Drug use can also lead to social and emotional problems and negative effects on relationships with family and friends.

Ice and Methamphetamine are different names for the exact same drug.

There is a common misconception that Ice is the more pure form; this stems from the principal that more pure chemicals form larger crystals. This doesn’t match with what Perth Laboratories see coming through the lab. In terms of the percentages, in recent Perth laboratory testing, the average purity of methamphetamine that is analysed is approximately 65%. 

Whether it is in crystal form or powder form is more dependent on how the drug is manufactured rather than its purity. Therefore, the appearance of the drug has very little correlation with the purity. 

A user is taking the risk of not knowing how much, or even what exactly they are taking.

A bad trip is when people experience negative feelings while using hallucinogens. This may include feeling like they are losing control as well as anxious and paranoid. It can lead to panic attacks and extreme risky behaviours’ like jumping off high places or running across a busy road. It can feel like it will never end.

In Western Australia it is illegal to use, possession, cultivate, manufacture, sell or supply an illicit drug. Penalties can range from a $2,000 fine and/or two years in prison to a $100,000 fine and/or imprisonment for 25 years. In addition, any person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record, which can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel. Police can issue a Cannabis Intervention Requirement (CIR) or a Drug Diversion Notice  when small quantities of a drug are detected. For more information about the laws, we would recommend you contact WA Police or visit their website www.police.wa.gov.au.

The sale and supply of alcohol in Western Australia is governed by the Liquor Control Act 1988 which is administered by the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor. For more information about these laws, we would recommend you contact the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor or visit their website  www.rgl.wa.gov.au/.

Psychoactive drugs may be divided into four categories:

Depressants: Drugs that decrease alertness by slowing down the activity of the central nervous system (e.g. heroin, alcohol and analgesics).

Stimulants: Drugs that increase the body's state of arousal by increasing the activity of the brain (e.g. caffeine, nicotine and amphetamines).

Hallucinogens: Drugs that alter perception and can cause hallucinations, such as seeing or hearing something that is not there (e.g. LSD and 'magic mushrooms').

Other: Some drugs fall into the 'other' category, as they may have properties of more than one of the above categories (e.g. cannabis has depressive, hallucinogenic and some stimulant properties).

Depressants, sometimes referred to as downers, are drugs that decrease alertness by slowing down the activity of the central nervous system (e.g. heroin, alcohol and analgesics).

Stimulants, sometimes referred to as uppers, are drugs that increase the body's state of arousal by increasing the activity of the brain (e.g. caffeine, nicotine and amphetamines).

People use drugs for a variety of reasons. Some of these include:

- To have fun, relax, forget problems or as a form of escapism

- To gain confidence and socialise

- Out of curiosity

- To lessen inhibitions

- To remove personal responsibility for decisions

- To celebrate or commiserate

- To relieve boredom and stress.

- Self-medication to cope with problems.

 

Friends, parents, older brothers and sisters and the media can also have some influence over a young person's decision to use drugs.

The street price of drugs change depending on availability and market trends. The cost of purchasing drugs can lead to financial problems for both occasional and regular users.

As humans, it is in our nature to take risks and experiment.  People have experimented with drugs for centuries in rituals, for cultural, social and medical reasons.  Young people today will experiment with drugs for a number of reasons. 

Drug use can impact on your physical and mental health. It can also lead to social problems and have negative effects on relationships with family and friends. As some drugs are illegal, there can also be legal ramifications associated with drug use.

A drug is any substance (with the exception of food and water) which, when taken into the body, alters the body's function either physically and/or psychologically. Drugs may be legal (e.g. alcohol, caffeine and tobacco) or illegal (e.g. cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin).

Depending on the drug, how it functions will affect everyone differently depending on a person’s (size, gender, mood, expectations), the drug (amount used, strength, purity) and what environment the drug is used in.

If there is a particular drug you are enquiring about, or are after any specific information, please let us know. You can do this by submitting a new question.

Drug Aware is a program that targets young people with messages about illicit drug use that focus on the prevention of use and associated harm.

Caffeine is one of the most popular drugs, with average consumption estimated to be 70mg per person per day (54% of this is from coffee, 43% from tea and 3% from other forms).

The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey reported that in Western Australia alcohol and tobacco were more commonly used than any illicit drug in the last 12 months.

There is no safe level of illicit drug use. The user can never tell exactly what an illegal drug contains, or what effect it will have, and this puts people at serious risk.

There is no safe level of illicit drug use. The user can never tell exactly what an illegal drug contains, or what effect it will have, and this puts people at serious risk.

Drugs can be used in different ways, such as being ingested, snorted, injected or smoked, but will depend on the drug itself. There are also dangerous effects and risks associated with a way a drug is used.

For more information, or if drug use has become a problem for you, contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on (08) 9442 5000 (or 1800 198 024 toll-free country callers). ADIS is a 24hr confidential service that can help with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs.

While anyone can be at risk of drug use, teenagers and young adults are most at risk of deciding to try illicit drugs. Therefore, the Drug Aware program targets 12-29 year olds in Western Australia with education and information with the aim of preventing and/or delaying drug use and reducing associated harms.

Additionally, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey for 2013 found that Males were more likely than females to use illicit drugs (18.1% compared with 12.1%), and people aged 20–29 were more likely to use illicit drugs than those in any other age group (27%). View the survey results. 

With regular use, tolerance to and dependence on drugs can develop.

- Tolerance: when a person needs more of a drug to achieve the same effects they felt before with smaller amounts.

- Dependence: when the use of the drug becomes central to a person's life and they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it.

Polydrug use, also known as mixing drugs, occurs when two or more drugs are used at the same time or on the same occasion. Mixing drugs can also occur when the manufacturer combines different drugs to achieve a specific effect or to save money by mixing in cheaper chemicals. This results in users combining drugs unintentionally.

 

There is a greater chance of harm if more than one drug is used at a time, especially when drugs of unknown content and purity are combined. This includes mixing over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs and illegal drugs.

 

Addiction is a complex issue and affects everyone differently. This can depend on the type of drug used, amount used and the length of time the drug(s) have been used for. Some drugs are more physically addictive while others are mentally or socially addictive. Drug use can lead to tolerance and dependence.

Tolerance – This means that a person needs more of the drug to achieve the same effects they experienced previously with smaller amounts. 

Dependence – This means that the drug becomes central to a person’s life and they feel they cannot function properly without it.

For more information or if drug use has become a problem and you would like to talk to someone about it, please call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service confidentially, 24/7 on (08) 9442 5000 (country callers toll-free on 1800 198 0247).

Effects & Harm

Drugs affect people differently. Some become depressed, angry, aggressive, sleepy, unmotivated, paranoid, anxious or talkative. Drug use can lead to social and emotional problems and negative effects on relationships with family and friends.

With regular use, tolerance to and dependence on drugs can develop.

- Tolerance: when a person needs more of a drug to achieve the same effects they felt before with smaller amounts.

- Dependence: when the use of the drug becomes central to a person's life and they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it.

Non-prescription medicines can be dangerous if they are misused. All medicines contain drugs that can lead to a variety of health problems when they are taken in doses above what is recommended, too often, or for purposes for which they are not suitable. For example, the use of minor analgesics (such as aspirin or paracetamol) over the long term can lead to a variety of health problems, including kidney disorders, anaemia and gastric ulcers.

The misuse of drugs can result in social, mental, physical and legal consequences.

For example, drug-use can lead to emotional problems and affect relationships with family and friends. When people are under the influence of drugs, changes can occur in their behaviour depending on how they feel (for example, sleepy, euphoric or sick). Friends may not be able to rely on the person as the user?s moods can change depending whether they are using or not. Long-term use can lead to serious health and financial problems, which can also affect relationships.

Drug use has also been associated with mental health issues such as psychotic episodes, depression and paranoia.

In Western Australia, it is illegal to use, possess, manufacture or supply illict drugs. Penalties can range from a $2000 fine and/or two years in prison, to a $100 000 fine and/or imprisonment for 25 years. In addition, any person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record. This can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.

A number of drugs are associated with antisocial and violent behavior. Some drugs, particularly when used to excess and/or used illegally, significantly increase the risk for aggressive behavior and the commission of acts of violence. Alcohol, anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines, methamphetamine and cocaine are key drugs that can escalate the development of aggression and violent behavior.

For more information call ADIS confidentially, 24/7 on (08) 9442 5000 or country callers freecall 1800 198 024.

The effects of alcohol and other drugs will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the alcohol and/or drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

Some people become depressed, angry, aggressive, sleepy, unmotivated, paranoid, anxious or talkative. Alcohol and other drug use can lead to social and emotional problems and negative effects on relationships with family and friends.

If alcohol and/or other drug use has become a problem for you, you  can contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS). ADIS is a 24hr confidential service that can help you with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs. You can contact ADIS on (08) 9442 5000 (or 1800 198 024 toll-free if you live outside the metropolitan area within Western Australia).

Please let us know if there is anything we can help you with. You can do this by submitting a new question.

The effects of drugs will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

Drug use can impact on your physical and mental health. Some people can become depressed, angry, aggressive, sleepy, unmotivated, paranoid, anxious or talkative when using drugs. Drug use can also increase the risk of mental health problems, especially in people who have a vulnerability to mental health conditions. Drug use can also lead to social and emotional problems and negative effects on relationships with family and friends, which can be detrimental to someone’s health.

If drug use has become a problem for you, you can contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS). ADIS is a 24hr confidential service that can help you with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs. You can contact ADIS on (08) 9442 5000 (or 1800 198 024 toll-free if you live outside the metropolitan area within Western Australia).

Please let us know if there is anything we can help you with. You can do this by submitting a new question.

Addiction is a complex issue. Some drugs are more physically addictive while others are mentally or socially addictive. Drug use can lead to tolerance and dependence.

Tolerance – This means that a person needs more of the drug to achieve the same effects they experienced previously with smaller amounts.

Dependence – This means that the drug becomes central to a person’s life and they feel they cannot function properly without it.

For more information or if drug use has become a problem and you would like to talk to someone about it, please call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service confidentially, 24/7 on (08) 9442 5000 (country callers toll-free on 1800 198 0247).

The effects of drugs will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the alcohol and/or drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

Some people become depressed, angry, aggressive, sleepy, unmotivated, paranoid, anxious or talkative. Drug use can increase the risk of mental health problems, so people with an existing mental health condition should be even more cautious about using this drug. For these reasons, there is no safe level of illicit drug use.

Drugs effect everyone differently. There are many signs that you may notice if someone is using drugs. These can include changes in their behaviour,  a change of friends, withdrawal from family, suspicious activity, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, or deterioration in health. However, everyone responds differently to drug use and these type of changes can sometimes be a normal part of development (e.g., during adolescence)and not related to drug use at all.

If you are concerned about someone using drugs, you can contact the Parent and Family Drug Support Line (PFDSL) on 9442 5050 or 1800 653 203 (country callers toll-free) or email . PFDSL is a 24hr confidential service that can help you with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs.

Not taking drugs is the safest option. Most people who are offered drugs don't accept. If you are in a situation you are pressured to take drugs the best thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation and surround yourself with people who don't take drugs.

If you do take drugs or know people who do and want to know how to reduce harms see the Staying Safe section of our website: http://drugaware.com.au/Stay-Safe.aspx

The effects of drugs will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the alcohol and/or drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

Drug use can impact on your physical and mental health.  Some people become depressed, angry, aggressive, sleepy, unmotivated, paranoid, anxious or talkative. Drug use can increase the risk of mental health problems, so people with an existing mental health condition should be even more cautious about using drugs.

It can also lead to social problems and have negative effects on relationships with family and friends. As some drugs are illegal, there can also be legal ramifications associated with drug use.  For these reasons, there is no safe level of illicit drug use. 

There is no safe level of illicit drug use. The effects of drugs will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the alcohol and/or drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

If drug and/or alcohol use has become a problem for you, or a loved one, you  can contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on (08) 9442 5000 (or 1800 198 024 country-callers toll-free). ADIS is a 24hr confidential service that can help you with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs.

The effects of drugs will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics, such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health, the drug itself such as the amount used and its purity, and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug. 

Some people become depressed, angry, aggressive, sleepy, unmotivated, paranoid, anxious or talkative. Drug use can

lead to social and emotional problems and negative effects on relationships with family and friends.

As it is illegal to possess, manufacture, supply or use illicit drugs in Australia, a person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.

If drug use has become a problem for you, you  can contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on (08) 9442 5000 (or 1800 198 024 toll-free for country callers). ADIS is a 24hr confidential service that can help you with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs.

Getting Help

There are a variety of treatment pathways available for people with drug -related problems. The drug(s) used and the availability of services, as well as the user's health, desired outcome, support network and unique circumstances need to be taken into consideration.   

Deciding on the best treatment pathway, or combination of pathways, is best done in consultation with a drug and alcohol counsellor. Call the Parent and Family Drug Support Line for more information on (08) 9442 5050 or email alcoholdrugsupport@mhc.wa.gov.au.

We recommend you contact the Alcohol and Drug Support Line (ADSL). ADSL is a 24hr confidential service, and they can help with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs. The can be contacted directly on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024 (country callers toll-free) or alcoholdrugsupport@mhc.wa.gov.au.

Alternatively you can speak with them confidentially via the live chat function on the Drug Aware Website.

The Meth Helpline is a free confidential, non-judgemental telephone counselling, information and referral service for anyone concerned about their own or another person’s meth use.

Call the Meth Helpline on 1800 874 878.

 

Drug Driving

In Western Australia, it is against the law for anyone to drive under the influence of a psychoactive drug (a drug that affects the mind or behaviour), and this includes alcohol.

The Road Traffic Act 1974 section 63 is the relevant legislation, and breaking this law carries penalties including disqualification from driving, fines and/or imprisonment.

For more information regarding the law in WA, we would recommend you contact Office of Road Safety (www.ors.wa.gov.au) or WA Police (www.police.wa.gov.au)

In Western Australia the Road Traffic Act 1974 states that “A person who drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or alcohol and drugs to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle commits an offence, and the offender may be arrested without warrant”. A person convicted of an offence against this is liable for the following:

Offence: Driving with the presence of a prescribed illicit drug and/or Failure to comply with requirement for sample of Oral Fluid or Blood for drug testing. Penalties: First offence – Maximum fine $500 and 3 demerit points*. Second or subsequent offence: fine of $500 - $1000 and minimum 6 months licence disqualification.

Offence: Driving while impaired by a drug and/or Failure to comply with requirement for driver assessment or provision blood or urine for drug analysis. Penalties: First offence – fine of $900 - $2500 and minimum 10 months licence disqualification. Second offence: fine of $2100 - $3500 (or 9 months imprisonment) and minimum 30 months licence disqualification. Subsequent offence: fine of $2100 - $5000 (or 18 months imprisonment) and licence disqualification for life.

As you are enquiring about the law, we would recommend you visit the Office of Road Safety website (www.ors.wa.gov.au) or the WA Police website (www.police.wa.gov.au).

* Demerit points are doubled on long weekends and other prescribed holiday periods.

Thank you for your enquiry however we are not sure which drug you are referring to.

Drugs affect every person differently. The drug you use (strength, dose, how and how often you use it and other drugs) can affect how long it stays in your system. It can also be affected by you as an individual depending on your tolerance, age and gender, overall health, metabolism, mood and environment you are in.

In Western Australia, it is against the law for anyone to drive under the influence of a psychoactive drug (a drug that affects the mind or behaviour), and this includes alcohol.

For more information regarding the law in WA, we would recommend you contact Office of Road Safety (www.ors.wa.gov.au) or WA Police (www.police.wa.gov.au)

Alternatively, if there is anything else we can help you with please let us know. You can do this by submitting a new question.

Drugs & Pregnancy

Drugs can affect an unborn child. It is safer not to use any drugs during pregnancy unless under medical supervision. Psychoactive drugs cross the placenta (the barrier between the mother's and baby's blood) so a baby is exposed to the same chemicals as the mother. These chemicals can affect the growth and development of the baby and cause miscarriage, premature birth and birth defects.

Drugs can affect an unborn child. It is safer not to use any drugs during pregnancy unless under medical supervision. Psychoactive drugs cross the placenta (the barrier between the mother's and baby's blood) so a baby is exposed to the same chemicals as the mother. These chemicals can affect the growth and development of the baby and cause miscarriage, premature birth and birth defects.

Drug Testing

Amphetamines can generally be detected 72-96 hours in a urine test and 4-8 hours in a blood test. However these figures should be used as a guide only, and are based on averages in the population.

No. This is a myth. Drinking a lot of water does not work to cheat a drug test, or get rid of the drug faster from your body.

 

There is no way to mask drug use in a drug test. To test negative on a drug test, other than not taking drugs, you need to make sure your body has eliminated all of the drugs you have taken by metabolising them.

Drugs affect every person differently. The drug you use (strength, dose, how and how often you use it and other drugs) can affect how long it stays in your system. It can also be affected by you as an individual depending on your tolerance, age and gender, overall health, metabolism, mood and environment you are in.

Drug testing is rarely conducted when someone presents to the hospital, as medical staff treat the symptoms a person presents to the hospital with. On the rare occasion that drug testing is done, the hospital would not send the information to the police.

The only case in which Police are able to access these results is through the court subpoena system. Ambulance, hospital and medical staff are there to help the patient and act in the patients best medical interests.

It is important to remember that Ambulance and Medical staff are there to help, not to dob. Police are only notified if there is a death or if staff feel threatened.

The only way to test negative on a drug test, other than not taking drugs, is to make sure your body has eliminated all of the drugs you have taken by metabolising it. However, with hair drug tests, whilst your body might have eliminated the drug, there may still be residues in the hair follicle that could still show up tests, therefore is different to a urine/saliva/blood test. Drugs can still show up in the hair because hair growth is fed by a blood stream, therefore anything in the blood stream could lodge in the hair follicle (information provided by ChemCentre).

Saliva testing is used in random roadside drug testing. It is used to detect the presence of THC (the active component in cannabis) and amphetamine type stimulants including methylamphetamine (‘speed’ or ‘ice’) and MDMA (‘ecstasy’), which are, after alcohol, the drugs of greatest concern in relation to road safety.

A roadside saliva screening test takes around five minutes. Where a positive result is obtained, the driver is required to undertake a second saliva test or provide a blood sample to confirm the presence of the prescribed drug. In most cases, the confirmatory saliva test takes around 30 minutes.

Ecstasy is the name given to methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). MDMA can be detected in saliva for approximately 24 hour after use, cocaine can be detected in the saliva for up to 1 day after use and Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (the active component in cannabis) can be detected in saliva for up to 4 hours after use. However this all depends on the amount and potency used, and a person’s metabolism rate.

It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (blood, urine and saliva) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies but individual results may vary.

The detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (blood, urine and saliva) is dependent on the drug used  (type, strength, dose, how and how often you use it and other drugs ) and can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors.  It is also important to note that most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies but individual results may vary.

The only way to ensure there are no traces of drugs in your blood, other than not using drugs or being exposed to drugs, is to make sure your body has eliminated all of the drugs in your body by metabolising it.

A simple saliva or urine drug test can be purchased at a pharmacy or online. These tests will indicate if a person has a range of illicit drugs in their system; usually testing for ice (methamphetamine), cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), amphetamines, opiates (heroin) and marijuana. These tests only work if a person has the drug in their system at the time of testing.

It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (blood, urine and saliva) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies but individual results may vary.

If alcohol or other drug use has become a problem for you – you can contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on (08) 9442 5000 (1800 198 024 country callers toll-free). ADIS is a 24hr confidential service that can help with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs

Unfortunately Drug Aware cannot recommend a specific testing kit. Home testing kits can be purchased at a pharmacy, therefore we recommend you contact a pharmacist for advice.

For  information and support on alcohol and drugs call the Alcohol and Drug Support Line confidentially, 24/7 on (08) 9442 5000 (country callers toll-free on 1800 198 024).

Withdrawal

Withdrawal describes a series of symptoms that may occur when a drug on which a user is physically dependent is stopped or significantly reduced. The symptoms vary depending on a range of factors and tend to be opposite to the effects produced by the drug.

It is important that a person speak to their prescriber about the process and any questions they have. The amount of time it takes to withdraw off methodone depends on many things, such as the person, what dose they are starting from, urgency about coming off and also what supports a person has in place. Methadone withdrawal tends to require about 3 weeks, with the peak of the withdrawal occurring about a week after last dose.

For more information call ADIS confidentially, 24/7 on (08) 9442 5000 or country callers freecall 1800 198 0247

Treatment

There are a variety of treatment pathways available. The drug(s) used and the availability of services, the user's health, desired outcome, support network and unique circumstances need to be considered. Deciding on the best treatment pathway/s is best done in consultation with a drug and alcohol counsellor.

Dexamphetamine is not a registered treatment for ice addiction (i.e. dependence to methamphetamine). According to the Australian Drug Strategy, there is ongoing research into several medications (including dexamphetamine) as possible treatment options, but no medications have yet proven to be more effective than others in treatment e.g. for withdrawal or to prevent relapse.

For more information call ADSL confidentially, 24/7 on (08) 9442 5000 or country callers freecall 1800 198 024

Drug testing is rarely conducted when someone presents to the hospital, as medical staff treat the symptoms a person presents to the hospital with. On the rare occasion that drug testing is done, the hospital would not send the information to the police.

The only case in which Police are able to access these results is through the court subpoena system. Ambulance, hospital and medical staff are there to help the patient and act in the patients best medical interests.

It is important to remember that Ambulance and Medical staff are there to help, not to dob. Police are only notified if there is a death or if staff feels threatened.

Addiction is a complex issue. Some drugs are more physically addictive while others are mentally or socially addictive however there is support available for people wanting to make changes to their drug use.

As you are enquiring about treatment, we would recommend you contact the Alcohol and Drug Support Line (ADSL) on (08) 9442 5000 (or 1800 198 024 toll-free country callers). ADSL is a 24hr confidential service that can help with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs.

There are a variety of treatment pathways available for people with ecstasy-related problems. The drug(s) used and the availability of services as well as the user’s health, desired outcome, support network and unique circumstances need to be taken into consideration. Deciding on the best treatment pathway or combination of pathways is best done in consultation with a drug and alcohol counsellor, so we encourage you to call ADIS on the number above to discuss your specific situation.

There are a variety of treatment pathways available for people with amphetamine-related problems. The drug(s) used and the availability of services, as well as the user's health, desired outcome, support network and unique circumstances need to be taken into consideration.  Deciding on the best treatment pathway, or combination of pathways, is best done in consultation with a drug and alcohol counsellor.

ADSL is a 24hr confidential service that can help with information, counselling, referral and advice on alcohol and other drugs.

You can contact ADSL directly on (08) 9442 5000 (or 1800 198 024 toll-free if you live outside the metropolitan area within Western Australia). You can also chat with a counsellor on the computer, via www.drugaware.com.au Click on the Live Chat button on the home page.

Cocaine

Cocaine is manufactured from the coca plant and is a stimulant drug which affects the central nervous system by speeding up the activity of certain chemicals in the brain, producing a feeling of increased alertness and reduced fatigue.

It is usually sold as a white powder. Freebase and crack are stronger forms of cocaine and look like small, yellow/white, oily rocks or crumbly, white flakes.

Coke, Crack, Rock, C, Charlie, Snow, White Lady.

Cocaine is usually snorted or swallowed, but can be injected or smoked in the form of crack or freebase. Smoking crack or freebase is uncommon in Australia.

There is no safe level of cocaine use. The effects of drugs will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

Cocaine is regarded by some as a chic, glamorous and the party drug of the rich. It has an undeserved reputation for being safe.

It is not legally available, and is extremely expensive as well as being very addictive. Regular users find the initial euphoria and heightened alertness produced by cocaine gradually gives way to restlessness, insomnia and suspicion. Many also suffer damage to the mucous membrane of the nose.

In high doses, cocaine will make the user feel extremely agitated, paranoid and aggressive. The consequences of overdose include seizures, brain haemorrhage, kidney failure, heart attack or stroke.

 

Some short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • Increased breathing rate and pulse rate
  • High body temperature and Increased blood pressure
  • Reduced appetite
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Increased alertness and suspiciousness
  • Feeling of wellbeing and exaggerated feelings of confidence and energy
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Inability to sleep.

Short-term effects of high doses of cocaine include:

  • When high doses of cocaine are used, short-term effects include:
  • Intense anxiety and cold sweats
  • Sleeplessness
  • Heart seizures
  • Uncontrollable tremors
  • Arms and legs may feel heavy
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Hallucinations
  • Overdose
  • Sensations of insects crawling on or under the skin
  • Burst blood vessels in the brain
  • Psychosis, a serious break with reality, hallucinations and delusions

 

Some long-term effects of cocaine include:

  • Dependence and Tolerance
  • Aggressive or violent behaviour
  • Loss of appetite, weight Loss and malnutrition
  • Irritability or emotional disturbances
  • Restlessness
  • Periods of psychosis and paranoia
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Convulsions
  • Reduced resistance to infection.

Cocaine use can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.

Cocaine can be detected in the blood from 40-90 minutes after use, and in urine for up to 1-2 days after use, but can depend on the amount and potency used, and a person’s metabolism rate. It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (blood, urine and saliva) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most time frames are based on scientific studies but individual results may vary

There is no safe level of cocaine use. During pregnancy cocaine use can cause bleeding, miscarriage, premature labour and stillbirth. If cocaine is used close to birth, the baby may be born intoxicated, showing symptoms of hyperactivity and agitation. Withdrawal symptoms can occur in the babies of mothers who use cocaine regularly. These include sleeplessness and lack of responsiveness.

Cocaine can reach the baby through breast milk. Symptoms may include the baby being irritable, unsettled and difficult to feed.

Illicit drugs are illegal in Western Australia. The use, possession, manufacture or supply of cocaine carries heavy fines and/or prison sentences. Penalties range from a $2,000 fine and/or two years in prison to a $100,000 fine and/or 25 years in prison. In addition, any person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record which can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit, or visas for overseas travel.

Coke is a name used for the drug cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant drug which affects the central nervous system by speeding up the activity of certain chemicals in the brain. It is usually sold as a white powder. Freebase and crack are stronger forms of cocaine which usually look like small, yellow/white, oily rocks or crumbly, white flakes.

Hallucinogens

A hallucinogen is a drug or chemical capable of producing hallucinations. A hallucination is a false perception through one of the senses (for example, seeing or hearing something that is not there).

Hallucinogens can be produced naturally or synthetically. LSD, Acid, Mushies, Mescaline, Tabs, Magic Mushrooms and Micro Dots are examples of hallucinogens.

The most commonly known hallucinogen is synthetic lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) which is usually sold on an absorbent tab or small square pieces of paper decorated with popular designs, such as smiley faces and cartoons. It may also be sold on sugar cubes, small squares of gelatine or in capsule, tablet or liquid form.

Natural hallucinogenic chemicals are found in plants such as the peyote cactus (mescaline) and some mushrooms (psilocybin).

Certain drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy may produce hallucinogenic effects at high doses or in other circumstances.

LSD, Acid, Mushies, Mescaline, Tabs, Magic Mushrooms and Micro Dots are examples of hallucinogens.

Hallucinogens are either swallowed or drunk.

There is no safe level of hallucinogen use. The effects of hallucinogens will vary from person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

When consuming hallucinogens, a person's perception of reality is affected, which can lead to people placing themselves in risky situations. There are also a range of harms associated with hallucinogen use that can be short-term (such as tension, anxiety, increased heart rare, body temperature and blood pressure) and long-term (such as impaired memory and concentration and psychological dependence). Hallucinogen use can also cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.

Short-term effects of hallucinogens include:

  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increase in body temperature and sweating
  • Seeing things in a distorted way or seeing things that don’t exist
  • Intense sensory experiences, bright colours, sharper sounds
  • Impaired coordination and tremors
  • Distorted sense of time. Minutes can seem like hours
  • Alterations in emotion
  • Distorted sense of space
  • Distorted body image
  • Tension and anxiety leading to panic attacks.

Long-term effects of hallucinogens include:

  • Flashbacks, a spontaneous and unpredictable recurrence of a prior drug experience (tripping) without taking the drug. Flashbacks may occur days, weeks or years after the drug was last taken. They can be triggered by the use of other drugs, stress, fatigue and physical exercise or for no apparent reason
  • Increase risk of developing severe mental disturbances in those who have a predisposition to the condition
  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Tolerance to the drug
  • Psychological dependence.

Hallucinogen use can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.

Regular, heavy hallucinogen use can lead to tolerance and dependence.

Tolerance to hallucinogens develops rapidly but is lost several days after use of the drug is ceased. Cross tolerance (when tolerance to one type of Hallucinogen makes a person tolerant to the effects of other hallucinogens) may also occur.

Depending on what type of hallucinogen is used, it can be detected in blood from 30 minutes after use to 2 days after use, and in urine from 1-5 days after use.

There is no safe level of hallucinogen use. The use of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and other Hallucinogens seems to be linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. There may also be a higher incidence of birth defects among babies born to women using LSD.

It is recommended that women check with their doctor (or other health professional) if they are using or planning to use drugs while pregnant or breastfeeding, including prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.

In Western Australia, it is against the law to possess, manufacture, supply, import or use hallucinogens. Penalties range from a $2,000 fine and/or a two-year prison term to a $100,000 fine and/or imprisonment for 25 years. In addition, a person convicted of a drug offence will acquire a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.

PIEDs

Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIED's), including steroids are a large group of compounds produced by the body of all animals, including humans. Steroids occur naturally or can be produced synthetically. Different groups of steroids include corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, androgenic steroids, oestrogenic steroids and anti-inflammatory steroids.

Industry workers (FIFO long shifts, military, security services etc.) athletes, body builders and some people may use steroids illegally to improve their appearance, athletic or work performance. The types of steroids used by people who wish to build muscle and increase their body size are usually anabolic steroids. These are a group of drugs that include the male sex hormone testosterone and its synthetic alternatives.

Anabolic steroids, roids, gear, juice.

Steroids are taken orally as tablets or injected into muscles. Each of these methods can increase the risk and harms of steroid use.

Using steroids may cause many negative physical and psychological side effects. The effects of steroids will vary depending on the person, their fitness, age, health, amount used and purity and whether the steroid was taken orally or injected.

Risks are especially high for young people. If steroids are taken while a person is still growing they can cause a number of problems including stunted growth. Steroid use can also cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.

While the side effects of steroid use is reversible in men this is not the case for women for whom the side-effects are more likely to be permanent. Many steroids are illegally made and can contain harmful, unknown substances that may increase the side effects. Often black market steroids are designed for animals and some may not contain any anabolic steroids at all.

 

The effects of steroids on both males and females include:

  • Acne
  • Bloating
  • High blood pressure and Increased cholesterol level
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Decreased immune function
  • Increased muscle size and strength
  • Damage to kidneys and heart, Liver Damage and Cancer
  • Insomnia
  • Urinary tract infections.

The effects of steroids on males include:

  • Shrinking testicles
  • Testicular cysts
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Pain when urinating
  • Development of breasts
  • Decreased testosterone production.

The effects of steroids on females include:

  • Growth of facial hair
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle (it may stop)
  • Enlargement of the clitoris
  • Deepened voice
  • Decreased breast size
  • Hair growth on the back and bottom.

Steroid use can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems.

Regular, heavy steroid use can lead to tolerance and dependence. People who use steroids may become dependent on the drug and continue to use it despite the side effects and health risks.

When a person stops using steroids they may experience withdrawal symptoms. While there is little medical evidence of withdrawal symptoms, anecdotal reports indicate some people experience symptoms including headaches, insomnia, cravings, decreased sexual libido, depression, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, restlessness, muscle pain, anorexia and dissatisfaction with body image.

 

Women are less likely to become pregnant if they are using anabolic androgenic steroids but if already pregnant these steroids may cause the development of male secondary sex characteristics in a female foetus.

In Australia, using steroids without a doctor's prescription is illegal. It is illegal to possess, use, manufacture, supply, import or trade steroids without a prescription or licence. Penalties range from a $2000 fine and/or a two-year prison term to a $100 000 fine and/or imprisonment for 25 years. Any person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, health insurance, credit or visas for overseas travel.

Frequent testing of athletes both in and out of competition increases the chance of athletes getting caught and being banned from competition, sometimes for life.

Cannabis

Cannabis is difficult to classify pharmacologically because it has a variety of effects. It is primarily a depressant drug, however, it can have hallucinogenic and some stimulant properties. Marijuana, hashish and hashish oil come from the cannabis plant.

Cannabis can also been known as mull, pot, dope, weed, leaf, gunja, marijuana, grass, smoke, green, hashish or hashish oil, amongst other street names.

Cannabis is usually smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or water pipes (bongs). The drug is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the lungs. Intoxication is felt when the drug reaches the brain which can take a few minutes and may last for up to 5 hours. When cannabis is eaten, the absorption of the drug is much slower, taking up to 3 hours to enter the bloodstream and the amount of food in the stomach and the user (e.g. weight, gender and other drugs used) will determine how quickly a person feels the effects.

Cannabis is primarily a depressant drug, which means it decreases alertness by slowing down the activity of the central nervous system. However, it can also have hallucinogenic (can alter perception and can cause hallucinations, such as seeing or hearing something that is not there) and some stimulant (increases the body's state of arousal by increasing the activity of the brain) properties.

The effects of cannabis can change from person to person as with any drug. This is because the effects of drugs change with person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

Short term effects of cannabis on your body can include loss of concentration, impaired balance and reduced coordination, increased heart rate, reddened eyes and increased appetite. Cannabis intoxication can also cause confusion, restlessness, a detachment from reality, hallucinations, anxiety and panic attacks.

Cannabis use can also cause problems later in life, not just while using the drug. There is a growing body of research that indicates cannabis causes significant harm to the community, particularly in relation to physical and mental health, and wellbeing. Long term effects of cannabis can include respiratory disorders (bronchitis, asthma and emphysema), risk of cancer (especially lung cancer), decreased concentration, memory and learning abilities and interference with sex drive and hormone production. Cannabis use can increase the risk of mental health problems, especially in young people. This risk increases the earlier a person starts and the more they use.

Frequent use of cannabis can affect the brain by decreasing the user's ability to concentrate and remember things and can also impact on learning ability. Research indicates that cannabis affects the frontal cortex of the brain, leading to less self-control.

Cannabis use can increase the risk of mental health problems, especially in young people. This risk increases with frequency and amount of cannabis use. The frequent or even occasional use of cannabis can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems. People who use cannabis in their teens may also have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. This risk also increases with frequency and amount of cannabis use.

Dependency is a complex issue. Some drugs are more physically addictive while others are mentally or socially addictive.

It has been suggested that cannabis use can lead to dependency. Research indicates that 1 in 10 people who try cannabis become dependent, with young people more at risk of dependence following cannabis use than older people.

Cannabis can be detected in saliva for up to 4 hours after use. It is suggested that a single joint can last from 18 hours to 5 days until it is no longer detectable in urine, and 20-36 hours until it is no longer detectable in blood. Heavy cannabis use can take 60-90 days until it can be no longer detectable in urine, and 20-36 hours until it is no longer detectable in blood.

It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (saliva, urine and blood) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies, but individual results may vary.

There is no safe level of cannabis use. Because cannabis is harmful, it is against the law for people in Western Australia to use, possess, cultivate or sell / supply cannabis, or to possess pipes and other smoking implements containing detectable traces of cannabis.

It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (blood, urine and saliva) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies but individual results may vary.

It is against the law to sell cannabis smoking paraphernalia (e.g. bongs) or to display them for sale in a shop or retail outlet. Selling cannabis smoking paraphernalia to a child under the age of 18 years attracts a higher penalty than selling to an adult.

A person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.

Using cannabis can also impact on your life in many ways. For example, the cost of purchasing cannabis can lead to financial problems and drug use can lead to social and emotional problems that affect relationships with family and friends.

We would recommend that you contact WA Police for any other questions on cannabis and the law (www.police.wa.gov.au).

Under the CIR scheme, police may issue a CIR notice to eligible people found in possession or use of small amounts of cannabis, and/or possession of a smoking implement containing traces of cannabis.

However, a person found in possession of a small amount of cannabis may still be charged with the more serious offence of possession of cannabis with intent to sell or supply, if police have relevant evidence.

The CIR scheme does not apply to offences involving the possession or cultivation of cannabis plants, or possession of any quantities of cannabis resin (hash), hash oil, or other cannabis derivatives. These offences will be prosecuted through the courts.

A person who has been given a CIR will be required to book and complete a Cannabis Intervention Session (CIS) within 28 days or elect to have the matter heard in court.

Police have the discretion whether or not to issue a CIR to an eligible person. A person is eligible for a CIR if they are aged 14 years or over, and is found using, or in possession, of not more than 10 grams of cannabis, and/or found in possession of a smoking implement containing detectable traces of cannabis.

An adult can only receive one CIR while a young person (aged 14-17 years) can be given a CIR on two separate occasions.

An adult who previously received a CIR, and commits a second or subsequent minor cannabis related offence, will be prosecuted through the courts.  A young person who commits a third or subsequent minor cannabis related offence however, will be referred to a Juvenile Justice Team where appropriate under the Young Offenders Act 1994, rather than being charged.

If a person had previously been convicted of a minor cannabis related offence and was an adult at the time of conviction, he or she would be ineligible to receive a CIR. Previous convictions for serious drug offences and offences of a violent and/or sexual nature may also preclude a person from being given a CIR.

The options are:

  • book and complete a Cannabis Intervention Session (CIS) within 28 days after being given the CIR; or
  • apply in writing to have the matter heard and determined in court.

If you are unable to complete a CIS within the 28 day period, you may apply in writing to police for an extension of time, however these are only issued in extenuating circumstances. 

If you book and complete a CIS you will not be required to appear in court. No further action will be taken against you for the alleged offence and you will not receive a criminal conviction.

If the 28 day period has expired and you have not completed a CIS or elected to have the matter heard and determined in court you will be prosecuted through the courts or, if you are a young person, the matter may be referred to a Juvenile Justice Team.

If cannabis is used in pregnancy the baby may be born smaller and lighter than other babies. Low birth weight can be associated with infections and breathing problems.

Little is known about the effects of cannabis smoking on breastfeeding. It is believed that some of the drug will pass through breast milk to the baby, with risks to the child.

It is recommended that women discuss their drug use with their doctor (or other health professional) if they are planning a pregnancy, currently pregnant or breastfeeding, including prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.

Cannabis use can increase the risk of mental health problems, especially in young people. This risk increases with frequency and amount of cannabis use. The frequent or even occasional use of cannabis can cause anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis in those people who have a vulnerability to mental health problems. People who use cannabis in their teens may also have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. This risk also increases with frequency and amount of cannabis use.

Heroin

Heroin is a depressant, which means it suppresses the activity of the central nervous system. Depressants affect the central nervous system by slowing down the activity of certain chemicals in the brain. This slows down the body, including breathing and heart rate.

Heroin can also be known as hammer, H, smack, horse, white or beige, amongst other street names.

Heroin is usually injected, but can also be smoked or snorted. The effects of heroin usually last from 2 to 4 hours.

The effects of heroin can change from person to person as with any drug. This is because the effects of drugs change with person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug. 

The short term effects of heroin generally include:

  • Pain relief
  • Shallow breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Feeling of wellbeing
  • Sleepiness
  • Loss of balance and reduced coordination. 

The short term effects of high doses of heroin generally include:

  • Breathing becomes even more depressed
  • Pupils narrow to pinpoints
  • Skin is cold to touch
  • The central nervous system can be depressed to the point where heart rate and breathing stop and possibly lead to death.

 The long term effects of heroin generally include:

  • Dependence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chronic constipation
  • Heart, chest and bronchial problems
  • Women often experience irregular menstruation and are susceptible to infertility
  • Men can experience impotence.

Heroin use can lead to dependency. Tolerance and dependence develop very quickly with heroin because of the short acting nature of the drug.

Heroin can be detected in urine for up to 1-2 days after use, and in blood from 30 minutes to 3 hours after use.

It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (saliva, urine and blood) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies, but individual results may vary.

There is no safe level of heroin use. Because heroin is harmful, it is against the law for people in Western Australia to use, possess, manufacture or sell/ supply heroin.

A person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.

Using heroin can also impact on your life in many ways. For example, the cost of purchasing heroin can lead to financial problems and drug use can lead to social and emotional problems that affect relationships with family and friends.

We would recommend that you contact WA Police for any other questions on heroin and the law (www.police.wa.gov.au).

Heroin can cross a mother’s placenta and cause her unborn baby to become dependent on the drug. Babies born to heroin-dependent mothers often have withdrawal symptoms like those of adults which may last for weeks or months. They can suffer withdrawal symptoms after they are born, and often require special care in hospital.

Babies born to women using heroin are usually underdeveloped and suffer from breathing problems and infections in the first few weeks of life.

Pregnant women who are dependent on heroin have a higher risk of spontaneous abortions, breech deliveries, premature birth (requiring intensive care) and still birth. Research indicates an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) among babies born to heroin-dependent mothers.

It is recommended that women discuss their drug use with their doctor (or other health professional) if they are planning a pregnancy, currently pregnant or breastfeeding, including prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.

Short-term effects of high doses of heroin include:

- Breathing becomes even more depressed

- Pupils narrow to pinpoints

- Skin is cold to touch

- The central nervous system can be depressed to the point where heart rate and breathing stop and possibly lead to death.

Ecstasy

Ecstasy is the name given to methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).  Ecstasy is a derivative of the amphetamine group and has both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. It is sometimes referred to as a 'psychedelic amphetamine'.

Ecstasy does not always contain just MDMA. Ecstasy pills are often mixed with a variety of other substances including aspirin, caffeine and ketamine (a veterinary anaesthetic agent). Sometimes drugs containing no MDMA are sold as ecstasy. This makes it difficult for people to know what they are taking.

Ecstasy can also be known as E, eccies, pills, XTC, bickies, love drug, disco biscuit, pingers, vitamins or MDMA, amongst other street names.

Ecstasy is generally taken as a tablet (‘pill’) which is swallowed. When swallowed, the effects become apparent within approximately 30 to 90 minutes and can last up to 6 to 8 hours.

Ecstasy may also be taken by suppository, snorting, smoking or injecting crushed tablets. As ecstasy usually comes in tablet form, it is not designed to be injected. The tablets are bound by a chalky substance, which if injected, can cause blocked veins or other unpleasant effects such as abscesses, blood poisoning (septicaemia) and gangrene.

There's no safe way to take an ecstasy pill, because the simple fact is that nobody taking it can possibly know what's in it. Even two pills from the same supplier can contain extremely variable levels of active substances, including several that can be highly toxic when combined.

Ecstasy pills are often made with no control over their manufacture, making it very difficult to know exactly what's in them without taking them in to get analysed. Ecstasy is often mixed with a variety of different drugs including MDEA, PMA, MDA, ephedrine, LSD and other harmful ingredients such as insecticides, ketamine (horse tranquillisers) and cough suppressants and many were found to contain other different substances of cheaper quality and varying toxicity.

The effects of ecstasy can change from person to person as with any drug. This is because the effects of drugs change with person to person depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

The short term effects of ecstasy generally include:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Dry mouth, jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • Feeling of wellbeing and exaggerated confidence
  • Anxiety
  • Increased pulse rate, blood pressure and temperature
  • Insomnia
  • Poor concentration.

The long term effects of ecstasy generally include:

  • Depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of concentration
  • Irritability.

There is the emerging evidence of serious long-term effects of stimulant use, including depression, anxiety, psychosis and memory disturbance from use of stimulant drugs. Ecstasy is a stimulant drug, and many ecstasy pills contain forms of amphetamines and methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) or ecstasy, has many similar characteristics to that of amphetamines. Also, most people who use ecstasy also use amphetamines, potentially without knowing they are, due to the contaminants in ecstasy pills.

Dependency is a complex issue. Some drugs are more physically addictive while others are mentally or socially addictive.

Ecstasy can be detected in saliva for approximately 24 hours after use, in urine for approximately up to 3-4 days after use and in blood from approximately 4-8 hours after use.

It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (saliva, urine and blood) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies, but individual results may vary.

Ecstasy affects the production of serotonin, a mechanism that regulates the body's temperature. It appears to cause a loss of control of normal body temperature.

There is no safe level of ecstasy use. Because ecstasy is harmful, it is against the law for people in Western Australia to use, possess, manufacture or sell/ supply ecstasy.

A person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.

Using ecstasy can also impact on your life in many ways. For example, the cost of purchasing ecstasy can lead to financial problems and drug use can lead to social and emotional problems that affect relationships with family and friends.

We would recommend that you contact WA Police for any other questions on ecstasy and the law (www.police.wa.gov.au).

Most drugs cross the placenta, and therefore have some effect on the unborn child. There is limited research on the specific effects of using ecstasy during pregnancy. However, there is potential to harm the child, especially if the ecstasy is combined with other drugs. It is also possible that miscarriage can result from using ecstasy.

Injecting ecstasy also increases the risk of HIV infection and other disease for both the mother and the baby.

Not much is known about the effects of ecstasy and other stimulants on the baby during breastfeeding. There is evidence that babies feed poorly and may be irritable. There are reports that it is likely that ecstasy can be transmitted via breast milk as it is similar in structure to methamphetamines.

It is recommended that women discuss their drug use with their doctor (or other health professional) if they are planning a pregnancy, currently pregnant or breastfeeding, including prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.

Ecstasy comes in tablet form and is usually swallowed. When swallowed, the effects become apparent within 30 minutes and last for up to 6 hours. The hangover effects can last up to 24 hours.

It is very dangerous to inject ecstasy. It is not designed to be injected, if injected, it can cause blocked veins or other unpleasant effects such as abscesses, blood poisoning (septicaemia) and gangrene.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines are a group of drugs that increase the activity of certain chemicals in the brain and are classed as stimulant drugs.

Some other names for amphetamine are ICE, speed, crystal meth, meth, whip, goey, shards, rock, uppers, whizz and dexies.

Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that increase the activity of certain chemicals in the brain. They refer to a number of slightly different chemical compounds with very similar activities.

Some examples of amphetamines include:

  • dexamphetamine, which is used for medical purposes to treat conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); and
  • amphetamine sulphate, known mainly as speed
  • methamphetamine, which is a more potent form of amphetamine, known mainly as 'crystal', 'meth', 'rock' or 'ice'.

Methamphetamine has four common forms – tablet, crystal (also referred to as ice or rock), base (also referred to as paste) and powder (also referred to as speed).

As such, ‘meth’ is the drug methamphetamine and ‘speed ‘ is the powder form of ‘meth’ and ‘ice’ is the crystal form of ‘meth’.

Methamphetamine ranges in colour from almost clear in its crystal form to white, pink, yellow, orange, blue, green or brown.

Amphetamine increases the activity of certain chemicals in the brain and are classed as stimulant drugs. Stimulant drugs increase the body’s state of arousal by increasing the activity of the brain.

People use drugs for a variety of reasons. Some of these include:

  • To have fun, forget problems or as a form of escapism
  • To gain confidence and socialise
  • Out of curiosity
  • To lessen inhibitions
  • To remove personal responsibility for decisions
  • To celebrate or commiserate
  • To relieve boredom and stress.
  • Self-medication to cope with problems.
  • To stay awake or alert.

The effects of amphetamines include anxiety, depression, paranoia, aggression and psychotic symptoms.

There is no safe level of illicit drug use. All drugs including amphetamines will affect each person differently depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug.

Short term effects at higher doses include:

  • Pale skin.
  • Feelings of being powerful or superior.
  • Repetitive movement.
  • Irregular breathing.
  • Very rapid or irregular heartbeat.
  • Jaw clamping/teeth grinding.
  • Panic attacks.

Long term effects in addition to the short term effects include:

  • Malnutrition and weight loss.
  • Reduced resistance to infection.
  • Violent behaviour.
  • Emotional disturbances.
  • Periods of psychosis.
  • Delusional thoughts and behaviour.
  • Mood swings.

The effects of methamphetamine include anxiety, depression, paranoia, aggression and psychotic symptoms. Methamphetamine also increases the risk of mental health problems, especially in people with an existing mental health condition or vulnerability to mental health problems.

As methamphetamine is more potent than dexamphetamine, users are likely to experience more severe side-effects.

Yes. Overdose or toxicity from amphetamines usually results from the drug’s stimulatory properties and can cause strokes, heart failure, seizures and death. The risk of overdose generally increases with a larger dose. As the strength and content of street amphetamines is unknown it can be difficult to judge the dose, increasing the risk of overdose.

A drug overdose is life threatening.  If you suspect bad effects from drugs every second counts, react fast and call an ambulance immediately (dial 000 from anywhere in Australia). Police will not normally attend unless ambulance officers are threatened or there is a death.

There are a number of signs and symptoms that point out someone is in trouble. Some of these include:

  • Hyperactivity, sweating
  • Rapid breathing or a feeling that you ‘can’t breathe’
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Shaking / Trembling / spasms
  • Chest pain, pounding heart
  • Raised temperature
  • Body chills
  • Disorientation
  • Severe Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Paranoid, delusional, agitated, irritable, anxious or psychotic behaviour
  • Convulsions

REMEMBER: It is not necessary for someone to have all of these signs or symptoms for them to be overdosing. Only a few could still mean they are in trouble and need emergency help (000).

There has been emerging evidence that amphetamine use is linked to serious long-term health effects, including depression, anxiety, psychosis and memory disturbance.

A pilot study was developed in Perth to determine if amphetamine users had brain abnormalities that neither they nor their doctors treating them suspected. People who presented to the Royal Perth Hospital Emergency Department with amphetamine-related symptoms were eligible to be recruited for the study. Brain abnormalities were detected using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and is defined when the brain has been injured by drug use resulting in an abnormality in the brain.

The results from this pilot study showed that one in five cases had an brain lesion or brain scarring. The most common MRI abnormality seen was an unidentified bright object (UBO), of which were mostly found in the frontal region of the brain. This finding is consistent with other reports of frontal abnormalities in methamphetamine users.

There has been emerging evidence that amphetamine use is linked to serious long-term health effects, including depression, anxiety, psychosis and memory disturbance.

Amphetamines can bring about psychotic features in people with no history of mental health issues (amphetamine-induced psychosis) or it can expose an underlying vulnerability to a mental health issue.  If you have already been diagnosed with a mental health issue, amphetamines can exacerbate the psychotic features of that illness and can also have a detrimental effect on medications used to control mental health issues.

Amphetamines can be inhaled (snorted), swallowed, smoked or injected.

As well as the dangerous effects associated with the drug the method of use can lead to additional harm.  Snorting can cause burns and sores on the membrane that lines the interior of the nose. Swallowing can damage the teeth, throat and stomach lining.  Smoking can lead to lung damage.  Injecting can result in major damage to the body’s organs, such as inflamed blood vessels and abscesses, blood poisoning, bacterial infections which may damage the heart valves, vein collapse, infection at injection site, as well as lead to the transmission of hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. If injecting, sterile syringes should be used at all times.

There is also a misconception that people will not experience mental health issues if they smoke the drug as opposed to injecting it, but this is false.

Addiction is a complex issue and is very often psychological. Amphetamine is potentially an addictive drug and there are many problems associated with its use. However, not everyone who takes amphetamine will become addicted to it. Some people, for varying reasons will become addicted and some won’t. This comes back to the psychological nature of addiction.

Like other drugs associated with addiction or dependency problems (alcohol, heroin, cannabis etc), amphetamines act in the brain to initially produce pleasurable feelings. Vulnerable individuals will be prone to repeatedly use the drug to experience these feelings. With repeated use the negative and damaging behavioural and psychological features of dependency start to develop. Once a dependency has developed, drug use is no longer enjoyable but becomes necessary to prevent the development of withdrawal symptoms – thus people become trapped and are unable to stop using the drug despite in many instances no longer wanting to.

Unlike regular and dependent users of other drugs such as alcohol and heroin, some regular users of amphetamines do not use every day. Rather, they are more likely to use continuously over several days to a week (sometimes called a binge). The effects of the drug may include feelings of euphoria, reduced appetite and inability to sleep. Of course, no-one can do without sleep indefinitely so this combined with inadequate nutrition results in exhaustion, paranoia, anxiety and depression. This is sometimes called a crash. To respond to the crash, the person might then start using again, and this can be commencement of the binge-crash cycle.

As with many drugs, the come down depends on how long, how frequently and how much of the drug has been used.

If someone has had a one-off binge, they may have severe fatigue, anxiety and depression for a few days until they catch up on rest and food. If a person has been using regularly, heavily and for a long time, withdrawal symptoms can last for up to 3 weeks.

It is important to remember that even once the physical addiction and withdrawal has ended, people coming off long-term stimulant use may also face a long period of dealing with altered mood, including anxiety and depression for some time after this. They may also experience cravings for methamphetamine and other psychological and emotional symptoms associated with not using anymore. This period of overcoming the psychological and emotional aspects of long-term drug use can last for long periods of time depending on the person’s situation.

Amphetamines affect everyone differently. The strength, dose, and how often it’s used can affect how long it stays in their system. It can also affect the individual depending on their tolerance, age and gender, overall health, metabolism, mood and environment they are in.

Amphetamines can be detected in blood from 4-8 hours after use, in urine for up to 3-4 days after use, and in saliva for approximately 24 hour after use, but can depend on the amount and potency used, and a person’s metabolism rate.

It is important to note that the detection of drugs and their metabolites in any biological sample (blood, urine and saliva) can change depending on the individual person and their biological factors and most suggested time frames are based on scientific studies but individual results may vary.

There is no safe level of illicit amphetamine use. 

There is research to suggest that amphetamine use can result in fertility issues for both men and women. 

There are also risks associated with amphetamine use during pregnancy. It has been linked with bleeding, early labour and miscarriage and can affect the baby's development before birth.  Amphetamines also cause the heart rate of mother and baby to increase.

If amphetamines are used close to birth, the baby may be born directly affected, and may be over-active and agitated.  Babies of mothers who regularly use amphetamines may also experience withdrawal symptoms in the first few weeks after birth.

It is not yet known whether children of mothers who used amphetamines during their pregnancy experience long-term problems in mental or physical growth, but initial studies give some cause for concern.

Yes. Amphetamines can impair driving ability by:

  • Giving the driver a false sense of confidence;
  • Rash decision making and exaggerated confidence can lead to increased risk taking behaviour; and
  • Greatly affecting drivers' reflexes, coordination and ability to concentrate on driving due to the tiredness and inability to sleep; which increases the risk of being involved in a crash that could result in fatality or serious injury.

In Western Australia, it is against the law for anyone to drive with the presence of an illicit drug prescribed within the Road Traffic Act 1974, or impaired by a drug. Penalties apply for those convicted.

There is no safe level of amphetamine use. Because amphetamines are harmful, it is against the law for people in Western Australia to use, possess, manufacture or sell/supply amphetamines.

A person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record and this can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel.

Using amphetamines can also impact on your life in many ways. For example, the cost of purchasing amphetamines can lead to financial problems and drug use can lead to social and emotional problems that affect relationships with family and friends.

We would recommend that you contact WA Police for any other questions on amphetamines and the law (www.police.wa.gov.au).

New Psychoactives

Drug Aware

Drug Aware is a program that targets young people with messages about drug use that focus on the prevention of use and associated harm. It aims to do this by providing credible, factual information that helps people make informed decisions.

The program also guides and develops strategies to create environments that support the prevention of drug related harm for young people where they may be at risk.

 

The Law

No, most drugs are produced and distributed legally. They are manufactured and distributed by large companies, and also distributed through commercial outlets. For two of the most widely used drugs, alcohol and nicotine, prescriptions are not needed.

In Western Australia it is illegal to use, possession, cultivate, manufacture, sell or supply an illicit drug. Penalties can range from a $2,000 fine and/or two years in prison to a $100,000 fine and/or imprisonment for 25 years. In addition, any person convicted of a drug offence will receive a criminal record, which can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel. Police can issue a Cannabis Intervention Requirement (CIR) or a Drug Diversion Notice when small quantities of a drug are detected.

Drug Aware is a program that targets young people with messages about drug use that focus on the prevention of use and associated harm.

As you are enquiring about the law in WA, we would recommend you contact WA Police (www.police.wa.gov.au).

Drug Aware is a program that targets young people with messages about illicit drug use that focus on prevention of use and associated harm.

In Western Australia it is illegal to use, possess, cultivate, manufacture, sell or supply an illicit drug. Penalties can range from a $2,000 fine and/or two years in prison to a $100,000 fine and/or imprisonment for 25 years. In addition, any person convicted of a drug offense will receive a criminal record, which can lead to difficulties in getting a job, credit or visas for overseas travel. Police can issue a Cannabis Intervention Requirement (CIR) or a Drug Diversion Notice when small quantities of a drug are detected. For more information about the laws, we would recommend you contact WA Police or visit their website www.police.wa.gov.au.

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Meth Helpline

Call the Meth Helpline on 1800 874 878*  for free professional counselling and advice.

* Free call from a landline and most mobile phones depending on the service provider.