Information on Drug Hazards

What are drugs?

Drug: (n) any article, other than food, intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.

What are the most common drugs on a college campus?

The most commonly used drugs on college campuses across the country can be broken into 4 major categories:

  1. Street Drugs
  2. Performance Enhancing Drugs
  3. Date Rape and Club Drugs
  4. Prescription Drugs

Street Drugs


Common or street names include: coke, C, blow, snow, and flake. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive, psychoactive, stimulant drug. Cocaine’s effect is described as euphoric with increased energy, reduced fatigue, and heightened mental altertness. Users may be talkative, extraverted, and have a loss of appetite or need for sleep. Cocaine’s psychoactive, pleasurable effects are shortlived without continued administration. The immediate physical effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Health complications associated with cocaine use include disturbances in heart rhythm and heart attacks, chest pain and respiratory failure, strokes, seizures and headaches


Common or street namesinclude: smack, H, skag, junk, brown sugar, horse, and black tar. Heroin is derived from the morphine alkaloid found in opium and is roughly 23 times more potent. A highly addictive drug, heroin exhibits a euphoric "rush". Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. Most illicit heroin is sold as a white or brownish powder and is usually "cut" with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, quinine, or other poisons. Heroin is metabolized to morphine and other metabolites which bind to opioid receptors in the brain. The shortterm effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (the "rush") accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user experiences an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects that heroin may have on users include respiratory depression, constricted "pinpoint" pupils and nausea. Effects of heroin overdosee may also include slow and shallow breathing, hypotension, muscle spasms, convulsions, coma, and possible death.


There are over 200 street names for marijuana including: weed, pot, herb, bud, dope, spliff, reefer, grass, ganja, 420, chronic, Mary Jane, gangster, boom, and skunk. Marijuana is a green, brown or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC. It is a psychoactive ingredient. Marijuana's strength is correlated to the amount of THC it contains and the effects on the user depend on the strength or potency of the THC. When marijuana smoke is inhaled, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream and is carried to the brain and other organs throughout the body. THC from the marijuana acts on specific receptors in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, starting off a chain of cellular reactions that finally lead to the euphoria, or "high" that users experience. Side effects of marijuana use will be variable from person to person, depending upon strength and amount of marijuana used and if the user is occasionally or chronically exposed to THC. The shortterm effects of marijuana use include problems with memory and learning; distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch); difficulty in thinking and problem solving; loss of coordination and motor skills; increased heart rate, anxiety, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth. Reaction time may be impaired while driving. Panic attacks, paranoia and psychosis may occur acutely and be more common in psychiatric patients. For chronic users, the impact on memory and learning can last for days or weeks after its acute effects wear off. When people smoke marijuana for years they can suffer negative consequences. For example, because marijuana affects brain function, the ability to do complex tasks could be compromised, as well as the pursuit of academic, athletic, or other life goals that require you to be 100 percent focused and alert. Marijuana also may affect mental health. Studies show that early use may increase the risk of developing psychosis (a severe mental disorder in which there is a loss of contact with reality) including false ideas about what is happening (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations), particularly if you carry a genetic vulnerability to the disease. Heavy marijuana abuse may show low achievement in important life measures including mental and physical health, and career. Marijuana affects memory, judgment and perception. Learning and attention skills are impaired among people who use it heavily. Research shows that drivers have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and problems responding to signals and sounds if driving while under the influence of THC.

Synthetic Marijuana

Common street names include: K2, Spice, Incense, Fake Weed, Yucatan Fire, Genie, Skunk, Moon Rocks, Zohai, and Black Mamba. Synthetic marijuana is a designer drug in which herbs, incense or other leafy materials are sprayed with labsynthesized liquid chemicals to mimic the effect of THC. Popular belief is that synthetic marijuana is safe, nontoxic, and elicits a psychoactive, or mindaltering, effect similar to regular marijuana. However, the chemicals synthesized for the production of synthetic pot can be more potent than natural THC found in marijuana, and may have more dangerous side effects.

Bath Salts

Common or street names include : Flakka, Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky, Cloud Nine, Blue Silk, Purple Sky, Bliss, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Zoom, Bloom, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, White Lightening, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, Drone, Energy1, Meow Meow, Sextasy, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Snow Leopard, Stardust, White Night, White Rush, Charge Plus, White Dove, plant fertilizer, and plant food. Psychoactive bath salts are a designer drug of abuse that has led to reports of dangerous intoxication from emergency departments across the US. Bath salts are not a hygiene product, as the name might imply. Bath salts are central nervous system stimulants that inhibit the norepinephrinedopamine reuptake system. The most commonly reported ingredient in bath salts is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Bath salts are noted for producing a high similar to methamphetamine and have been called legal cocaine. Reports from emergency departments note that bath salt use can lead to sympathetic nervous system effects such as tachycardia, hypertension, hyperthermia, and seizures. Altered mental status also occurs and may present as severe panic attacks, agitation, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and violent behavior including selfmutilation, suicide attempts and homicidal activity. Care of patients with an overdose may require admission to the intensive care unit, use of intravenous sedatives, antipsychotics, and/or restraints, or other measures to protect the patient and health care providers from harm.

Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)


Ephedra is an herbal drug used as an overthecounter energy enhancer and weight loss aid. People may use ephedra recreationally to enhance their energy and help them stay awake to party or study. It works by stimulating the nervous system, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Ephedra products may cause psychiatric disorders, dizziness, personality changes, memory loss, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, heart attack, stroke, angina, heart arrhythmia, and seizures

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are available by prescription to treat low testosterone levels. As a performanceenhancing drug, steroids are used illegally by athletes and others to enhance physical performance and build muscle mass. Taken orally or injected over the course of weeks or months, different types of steroids are often combined to maximize effectiveness, called “stacking.” Steroid abuse has many adverse consequences, including severe acne, liver tumors and cancer, high blood pressure, increases in cholesterol, kidney tumors, altered mood, irritability, increased aggression, and depression or suicidal tendencies. In addition, men who abuse steroids may experience shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, and increased risk for prostate cancer. Women may have gender specific side effects including growth of facial hair, malepattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and deepened voice. Adolescents who abuse steroids may have stunted growth and accelerated puberty; they may be of short stature for the rest of their lives as a result of abusing steroids in their youth

Date Rape and Club Drugs


Common or street names include: MDMA, E, Adam, XTC, Clarity, Essence, Hug Drug, and Love Drug. Ecstasy (MDMA, methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetic, psychoactive drug. Ecstasy acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic, producing an energizing effect, as well as distortions in time and perception and enhanced enjoyment from tactile experiences. Ecstasy has psychological effects include confusion, depression, anxiety, reduced inhibitions, sleep problems, hallucinations, drug craving, irrational behavior, and paranoia. These effects may last for weeks after taking the drug. Chronic use of ecstasy can lead to permanent damage to the parts of the brain that are essential to memory, thought, and pleasure. Additional risks exist due to the illegal nature of ecstasy. Because ecstasy production is unregulated, the drug is usually impure and may be laced with additives. Buyers of ecstasy may be given substitute drugs or adulterants, such as other hallucinogens, caffeine, ephedrine, or even heroin, that can have unknown effects on their bodies. Even if ecstasy does not contain adulterants, the concentration of the ecstasy can vary from dose to dose. All of these factors may lead to accidental overdoses, which may be fatal, and other untoward consequences.


Common or street names include: Liquid X, Liquid ecstasy, Georgia home boy, Oop, Gamma oh, Grievous bodily harm, Mils, G, Liquid G, and Fantasy. GHB or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that is commonly referred to as a club drug or date rape drug. GHB is abused by teens and young adults at bars, parties, clubs and raves and is often placed in alcoholic beverages. GHB is available as an odorless, colorless drug that may be combined with alcohol and given to unsuspecting victims prior to sexual assaults. It may have a soapy or salty taste. Use for sexual assault has resulted in GHB being known as a “date rape” drug. Victims become incapacitated due to the sedative effects of GHB, and they are unable to resist sexual assault. GHB may also induce amnesia in its victim. Immediate negative effects of GHB use may include sweating and loss of consciousness, nausea, auditory and visual hallucinations, headaches, vomiting, exhaustion, sluggishness, amnesia, confusion, and clumsiness. High doses of GHB, even without other illicit substances or alcohol, may result in profound sedation, seizures, coma, severe respiratory depression and death.


Common or street names include: K, Special K, K2, Vitamin K, Super K, Super C, Lady K, Ket, Kit Kat, Ketaset, Ketaject, Jet, Super Acid, Green, Purple, and Mauve. Ketamine is a dissociative general anesthetic that has been available by prescription in the U.S. since the 1970s for human and veterinary uses. Ketamine has become a drug of abuse and recreational drug. Ketamine for recreational purposes is sourced illegally via the diversion of the prescription products. Abuse of ketamine can lead to powerful visual hallucinations that are intensified by environmental stimuli. When higher doses of ketamine are abused, it is reported to produce an outofbody,or near death hallucinogenic experience, often reported as terrifying. Due to anesthetic effects, ketamine may be used as a date rape drug. Because the drug takes effect so quickly and its effects last for several hours, ketamine may be slipped into someone’s drink, rendering him or her unconscious and unable to resist sexual assault.


Common or street names includeforget me drug, roches, roofies, ruffles, date rape drug, la roche, R2, rib, roach, roofenol, rope, rophies, the forget pill, getting roached, lunch money drug, Mexican Valium, pingus, Reynolds, Robutal, wolfies. Rohypnol is an intermediate acting benzodiazepine with general properties similar to those of Valium. It is a sedative hypnotic drug used as a sleep aid in some countries, but is illegal in the United States. Like other benzodiazepines, Rohypnol's effects include sedation, muscle relaxation, reduction in anxiety, and prevention of convulsions. Rohypnol also causes partial amnesia in which individuals are unable to remember certain events that they experience while under the influence of the drug. This effect is particularly dangerous when Rohypnol is used to aid in the commission of sexual assault as victims may not be able to clearly recall the assault, the assailant, or the events surrounding the assault. While Rohypnol has become widely known for its use as a date rape drug, it is abused more frequently for other reasons. It is abused by high school students, college students, street gang members, rave party attendees, and heroin and cocaine abusers to produce profound intoxication, boost the high of heroin, and modulate the effects of cocaine.

Prescription Drugs


OxyContin (oxycodone) is an opioid pain medication. OxyContin is used to treat moderate to severe pain that is expected to last for an extended period of time. OxyContin is often used as a substitute for heroin, and produces feelings of euphoria and pain relief in abusers. OxyContin is medically dispensed in controlled release tablets to relieve pain, and when taken under the supervision of a doctor, is usually not addictive. However, abusers of OxyContin may crush the tablets before ingesting or snorting them, compromising the controlled release mechanism and dispensing potentially lethal doses of the drug. Misused in this way, OxyContin is highly addictive, and users may become tolerant or resistant to the drug’s effects.

Adderall and Ritalin

Adderall and Ritalin are both central nervous system stimulants. They affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. Both are used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used in the treatment of a sleep disorder called narcolepsy. Since prescription stimulants are prescribed by doctors and created in well regulated laboratories, they don’t have the stigma associated with street drugs. This leads many students to falsely believe Adderall and Ritalin are harmless, whether used recreationally for partying or for brief periods of intense studying, such as during finals week. However, there are many dangerous side effects of stimulant abuse. Improper, non medical use of these drugs may result in convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, headaches, malnutrition due to decreased appetite, and irregular heartbeat and breathing.