Drug and Alcohol Jargon Buster

Addicted: see also Dependence. The term addiction and by inference, addict, is closely linked to society’s reaction to the user, and so medical experts try to avoid using it, preferring dependence instead.

Aerosols: see Solvents

Alcohol: the Government’s sensible drinking guidelines recommend no more than two to three units of alcohol per day for women and no more than three to four units per day for men. Women who are trying to conceive or are already pregnant should try to avoid alcohol altogether, although currently one to two units, once or twice a week is not thought to cause any significant risk to the baby. These allowances should be considered on a daily basis and not “banked” and used on one or two “big” nights out. The average 330ml bottle of beer, lager or cider is approximately 1.5 units, a 175ml glass of wine is approximately 2.1 units and a normal 25ml measure of spirits is 1 unit. However, it is important to note that some drinks are stronger than others and these figures are simply a guide.

Cannabis: also known as dope, grass, hash, marijuana, pot, wacky backy, weed. Made from parts of the cannabis plant, this is a naturally occurring drug. It has the effect of making a user feel very relaxed, sometimes even sleepy, but does also have slight hallucinogenic properties which can make the user perceive things differently from reality or even cause hallucinations. Cannabis can be smoked, either mixed with tobacco as a “spliff” or “joint”, or in a pipe. Some people will use it in cooking or baking making tea, cakes or cookies.

Class A drug: cocaine, heroin, crack and LSD are all examples of Class A drugs, meaning they are illegal to have, give away or sell. A conviction for possession carries a maximum term of seven years in prison, while supplying anyone else, even friends can get you a life sentence and an unlimited fine.

Cocaine: also known as C, Charlie, coke or snow in powder form. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant found in either powder, freebase or crack (small rocks) form. It acts as a stimulant and speeds up the body’s natural processes. It makes people feel “on top of the world”, confident and very alert, but the effects are short lived. Cocaine can be snorted (sniffed), smoked or injected.

Dependence: an overwhelming compulsion to continue taking a drug (or alcohol or solvent) in order to feel better about one’s self. In some cases this is to avoid the physical side effects of not taking the substance, in which case, it is physical dependence. At other times it may a psychological dependence brought about by the need to escape reality or feel pleasure, for example.

Drug: a habit-forming medicinal or illegal substance

Ecstasy: also known as E’s or pills. Ecstasy is frequently used in the clubbing or rave scene. It gives people a lot of energy so they can dance for hours. It often makes people feel very loving toward those around them and intensifies sights, colours and sounds. Ecstasy is usually found in tablet form, although it is now also found in powder form, often in a variety of colours with “designs” or pictures on them. They are usually swallowed, but can be snorted or smoked.

Gases: see Solvents

Glues: see Solvents

Heroin: also known as Brown, H, Horse, Gear, Smack. Heroin is a derivative of morphine which is extracted from the opium poppy. A strong pain killer, heroin reduces physical and psychological pain and can give a feeling of well-being. It can be smoked, dissolved in water and injected, or snorted.

LSD: also known as Acid, cheer, dots, L, Lucy or smilies. LSD or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide is a hallucinogenic drug which means it will distort objects and reality often in the form of hallucinations. Taking LSD is referred to as a “trip” which can last anything from 20 minutes to an hour. Sometimes it will be a “good” trip, or a “bad” trip, which one is unknown until you take the drug. The effects are random and often frightening and because it can take up to two hours to kick in, many people will think the first dose hasn’t worked and take much more than they can handle. LSD is most commonly found as tiny squares of paper with pictures on them; however it is also available in liquid or tiny pellet form.

Solvents: Usually inhaled, sometimes resulting in a red rash around the mouth. Solvents include items such as aerosols (of hair spray, deodorant or air freshener for example), glue, paint, thinners, cleaning fluids, petroleum products. They produce a similar effect as alcohol and can make people feel uninhibited and dizzy.

Tranquilisers: also known as benzos, downers, mazzies, roofies or vallies. Tranquilisers are manufactured, prescription drugs, intended to reduce anxiety and promote calmness in a patient. The most common type of tranquilisers are Benzodiazepines. They work by slowing the body down, relieve tension and can have a sedative effect. Usually in the form of tablets, capsules or even suppositories, they are popular on the club scene and some people use them to “come down” after an Ecstasy or LSD high.