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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).

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