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FAQ

General

Are these new drugs, like herbals, weaker than other drugs?

No, generally they are more potent. The more powerful the drug does not mean you will have a better time. The opposite can be the case particularly with drugs like spice which have been associated with physical collapse and hospital admissions.

What is the difference between mephedrone and methadone?

These drugs are both powerful synthetic controlled drugs but could hardly be more different in the effects and their physical appearance. Mephedrone is a strong white powder stimulant. Methadone is a green liquid used by addicts as a heroin substitute.

Can any of these drugs be smoked?

The synthetic cannabis drugs (spice, mamba) are meant to be smoked.  Any drug which can be smoked gets into the blood stream much quicker than if it is snorted or bombed.

Where else can I go for information on drugs?

The Government advice centre for drugs is TalktoFrank

Dan247.org.uk is a Welsh drugs information site and helpline.

 Crewe2000 is a Scottish site which offers impartial advice.

Erowid is an US site with an encyclopedia of information on various drugs.

How does WNFO get to know about new drugs?

We are in touch other scientists across Europe who are aware of all the new drugs being circuated. They are also make great use of club and festival amnesty bins where people leave drugs they do not wish to take into a club.

Are Z -drugs safe to take it they are prescribed?

These drugs have legitimate medical use for the treatment of insomnia; they are only prescribed in medical cases where a medical examination has taken place. The prescribed dose is usually taken for a few weeks to prevent people becoming dependent.

Do SMART drugs make you smarter?

In short, no, they will not make you smarter. SMART drugs are taken by some students so they can focus for some lengthy periods, such as all night study sessions. Nevertheless the brain works best if it is used for 60 minutes followed by a 15-minute break. If you take a SMART drug to stay up and study then you might not retain information. The best way to learn is plenty of sleep, a balanced diet, time management and forward planning.

Is Ritalin A Safe Drug?

Most people who misuse Ritalin get hold of it through friends. It is illegal for them to be sold for non-prescription purposes. It is also a Class B drug.

How does Ritalin effect people who don’t have ADHD?

People with ADHD have lower dopamine levels, also known as the ‘a happy brain chemical’ it helps control behavior. Ritalin and Adderall are used to maintain correct dopamine levels helping people to maintain concentration and good behaviour. In undiagnosed people this drug, if taken in substantial quantities, can act like a stimulant: increasing blood pressures, decreasing appetite and flooding the brain with serotonin. In a small dose, it is sometimes misused as a cognitive enhancer to help people maintain concentration.

Is chewing khat cultural?

Yes, in Yemen, Somali and Ethiopian cultures men traditionally chew this plant as it is a social habit. In these tropical climates, the plant is widely grown and available. In some East African and Yemen communities who live in the UK khat is illegally consumed.

The Law

If I go to hospital will the doctor tell the police?

No. If something goes wrong and a friend of yours has a bad reaction or takes too much you must get medical help to them as fast as possible. You should not hesitate because you have to phone 999 for an emergency service. You should not think any doctor or paramedic is going to inform the police. Their only concern is helping the person who has passed out. You should be as honest with them as possible about what drugs the person has taken, including alcohol. It could make a big difference in a serious situation.

Can you be arrested for possession?

You can. A police officer can’t tell if a wrap or baggie of white powder is cocaine, mephedrone or a legal drug. He will probably arrest you in the first place and then the drug can be tested by a lab to show whether it was a controlled drug or not. The legality of the drug will determine whether you are charged with an offence or not. Not whether you can be arrested.

What powers do the police have?

The police have power to arrest you if:

  • You are under 18
  • If the officer suspects you may be in possession of a controlled drug

Once arrested you are taken to a police station. You will be presented to the custody desk sergeant with the arresting officer. You will be taken to an interview room (not a cell). You will be required to give a DNA sample (swab from inside of the mouth). You will be photographed. You will be interviewed by an officer who will complete details on several forms. If you are under 17, then a responsible adult (usually one of your parents) must be present. It is advisable to be as honest as possible. If the officer suspects you are not telling the truth then it will take much longer.

For young people under 18 you may get a reprimand, a final warning or even be charged. Those over 18 may get a caution or be charged. A caution means the drug is controlled (illegal) and you admit a possession offence with no fine. That does not mean you just been warned. It means you accept the offence; you now have a criminal record which will appear on the national police computer. You will be required to mention this criminal offence when applying for a job or a visa.

What happens when you get arrested?

Being arrested is always a stressful experience, particularly the first time and more so if you are feeling the affects of the drug. It often takes 3-4 hours from start to finish. You are photographed and have to give a sample of DNA. You are also interviewed and may be held in a cell. If you are under 17 your parent or guardian will be called to the police station.

Where can I get legal advice?

The organisation Release has been giving independent advice on drug law and your rights since the late sixties. Tel: 0845 4500 215

If I am carrying some for friends can I be done for dealing?

Yes, if it is an illegal drug. There are no set limits on how much of any drug is reasonable to possess and when it looks like you are dealing/supplying. But if you are caught with scales and little baggies then the police will be able to arrest and charge you with possession with intent to supply. You will be treated less harshly if you can convince the court you were not making money out of it.

Why is ecstasy class A?

Ecstasy was controlled in 1977 and its effects were equated with LSD which was already a Class A drug. All the most prevalent hallucinogenic drugs (hypnotics) were made Class A when the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was drawn up. This is at least in part because of international view of their harms at the time. They are now recognised by many scientists are considerably less harmful than addictive drugs like heroin.

Addiction

Are they addictive?

All drugs vary in addictiveness but most can be addictive if taken regularly and club drugs are no different.  Any level of addiction is dangerous to your long-term health. Addiction also changes your priorities where the drug becomes increasingly important over your work/study, friends and family. Addiction can have a strong association with crime.

Is cannabis addictive?

Yes. It is less so than many stimulants and any opium based drug. People can become psychologically dependent but they have to be very regular smokers. Physical addiction can build over some months and years but does not happen quickly. About five percent of people presenting for treatment, cite cannabis as their primary drug. Synthetic Cannabis is much more addictive than than the natural substance.

Is cannabis use increasing?

No. The British Crime Survey shows cannabis use has fallen slowly and steadily since 1996. Among 16-24 year olds it is down by about a third. There has been no proper research into this change, it may be a reaction against high strength skunk an attraction to other drugs or a general aversion to smoked products including tobacco.

How can I tell if I am developing a dependence?

The first signs of dependence are when you start making choices in life which are simply about getting hold of more of a particular drug. Then the choices you make begin to harm your work/study friends and family and yet you still continue. You may start lying to people close to you and even stealing to help you pay for your habit. You will probably have some big arguments about it with people close to you and your sleep patterns will change.

If you start taking the drug on your own you have probably reached another stage also when you dont get much pleasure from it any more but take it to stop feeling bad. Many of these drugs have strong side effects if you are becoming dependent on it and you will find your moods are dependant on whether you have taken any. There is likely to be physical signs as well. If you begin supplying to friends to pay for your own stash then you are not in a good place.

Where can I go for help?

There are many local centres where you could access some advice and/or treatment. Your GP may also be a good place to start. Even if they are a family doctor you have known for years they are obliged to keep your discussions confidential. Here are some useful links: http://www.drugsline.org http://www.addaction.org.uk/landing.asp?section=24ionTitle=Find+help

Are prescription opioids the same as heroin?

Some prescription opioids (like methadone) are produced in a laboratory setting with their chemical structure designed to replicate heroin. Others come from the same opium poppy as heroin; both work the same way by attaching themselves to the brains opiate receptor to numb pain. Pharmaceutical grade narcotics are used in end of life care; severe pain; terminal illness; after surgery; injury or severe pain. They can be misused like heroin for recreational pleasure and are addictive.

Are prescription opioids over prescribed?

Millions of American are abusing prescription opioids as doctors over prescribe this drugs for minor pain causing many to overdose. This isn’t the same picture in the UK as medical professionals are reluctant to prescribe opioids and only in severe cases.

Risks & Safety

Are they are less risky?

Risk is based on information so on that basis these substances are more risky because much less is known about them. The key information you need to measure risk is: dose, speed of action, degree of effect, duration of effects. You also need to ensure the right environment to be safe. Drugs can act faster, slower or more powerfully depending on whether they are swallowed or snorted, whether you have eaten, drunk alcohol, how tolerant you are to it, what mood you are in.

Do you know what you are getting?

You don’t. If they are just sold in a wrap or a bag they could be a mixture of several drugs and adulterants. You cant rely on the person selling the drug; his main motivation is for you to buy the substance not your safety. Regular dealers may try and give more accurate information so you keep buying from them but the truth is they dont know either.

Can you mix them with alcohol?

Alcohol can make a very big difference to the effects of the drug. GBL and GHB should never be taken with alcohol as it can quickly make you pass out. There has been a problem for many years with substances being offered around in pubs and clubs after friends have had a few drinks. It is not a good time to be making these kinds of decisions. You may not aware of what the effects are likely to be, you may take too much by accident, you may make a reckless choice if the effects are slow to start.

Can you overdose on them?

You can. Drug-related deaths usually involve more than one drug. Any drug can cause a very bad reaction. Some may be highly enjoyable for a time but that doesn’t mean taking more simply increases the amount of pleasure. It is easy to get to a critical point where your body or brain can’t cope and begins to shut down. Some drugs make your body temperature rise dangerously and in a club environment it is very hard to get it down. You may not even notice how much trouble you are in.

What are the particular harms of mephedrone?

It is a relatively new drug so there are not the same number of studies as you have for ecstasy and cocaine but we do know. As a new drug it is not possible to know much about its long-term use. But we do know amphetamine stimulants accelerate the heart rate. Prolonged use increases the risk of damage to the heart particularly if mostly taken with alcohol. Combining it with alcohol can lead to blackouts where there is no recall of events for long periods. Taking alcohol and M-Cat can also lead to aggressive behaviour.

Taking mephedrone can cause a deep feeling of agitation, heart palpitations, skin rashes, insomnia, vomiting and headaches. Users who snort the drug can expect to get bad nose bleeds and facial ulcers. Those who chose to bomb it may find they develop gastric burns in their stomach.

The link to mental health problems appears to be quite strong for heavy users. The down on MCat can be very intense and several suicides have been linked to heavy use. The few detailed studies on it indicate taking it more than just very occasionally can result in repeat dosing and heavy prolonged use eventually leads to severe addiction. Addicts are sleep deprived, often have ulcerated mouths and suffer significant weight loss.

What is the difference between mephedrone and methadone?

These drugs are both powerful synthetic controlled drugs but could hardly be more different in the effects and their physical appearance. Mephedrone is a strong white powder stimulant. Methadone is a green liquid used by addicts as a heroin substitute.

Why do people get so worried about skunk?

High THC levels in skunk mean it is not a mellow, giggly smoke. Smokers are more prone to paranoia and panic attacks. There is also a stronger relationship with schizophrenia and mental illness. Experts dispute how strong the link is but agree anyone with any mental health problem will not be helped by smoking any form of cannabis particularly skunk.

What if I thought I was snorting coke and got ketamine instead?

Rather than a simple euphoric buzz you may experience some dissociation where you feel detached from your surrounding. If you gave taken quite a lot this can be quite an intense feeling of remoteness and disconnection. It may be too much to take. But the effects should last for a couple of hours before subsiding. Let your friends know what is going on and ensure you look after each other.

After taking mephedrone, why do I feel a bit depressed the next day?

Generally speaking all stimulants can make you feel low after the high. Mephedrone appears to be associated with depression, particularly with people who have started taking it more regularly. Some try and recover their mood by taking more mephedrone which is a bit of a vicious circle. Heavy users risk developing clinical depression.

What does ketamine do to your bladder?

The occasional use of ketamine will, in all probability not harm your bladder. But regular use means you are taking a risk with addiction which can often lead to bladder problems. Over time ketamine, strips the lining of the bladder which is then passed out into the urine. This is very painful. If you find you need to go to the loo more often and it hurts or you pass blood then you should seek help to stop taking K. Those who persist find their bladders will shrink and harden and in some extreme cases become useless and a transplant is required.

Is it a horse tranquiliser?

No, not as such. Almost every media report uses the term so it has become the short hand description. Ketamine is an anaesthetic used before surgery. A tranquilliser are considered more like drugs such as valum. Ketamine is commonly used by vets for all sorts of animals, big and small. It is also used (rarely) in hospitals for severe and traumatic pain such as first degree burns or for amputation. It works because it is a dissociative which means it makes the person feel detached from what is happening to them

What are the risks with ketamine?

Firstly you find it a disturbing or distressing experience. It is a dissociative and a hallucinogen so you can lose all familiar boundaries which can cause panic.

Do some ketamine users really have their bladders removed?

A few, yes. Overall, compared to numbers of users, bladder removal is quite rare. But bladder damage isn’t. Heavy or regular use will bring it on, it is unavoidable. You should cut down to prevent this from happening or if there are any effects on your peeing such as increased frequency or pain you should try and stop. Each extra dose will worsen the problem.

If ketamine is so dangerous why do people take it?

Ketamine became a mainstream club drug about 10 years ago. One of its attractions, like many new drugs, is that has higher purity than other more established drugs like cocaine. It is taken at different two doses depending on your experience as a drug user; less experienced will take a relative small dose to feel the effects, people who take ketamine more regularly may take a bigger dose where they feel the full disassociation (out of body experience). It may sound an attractive and novel experience but it can be highly disturbing with morbid feelings. It is also an attractive drug to some because it is a relatively short lived experience (1-2 hours). It is also much cheaper than drugs like cocaine (about £20 a gram).

How can you stop yourself overheating?

Some stimulants, particularly MDMA, can cause the body’s temperature to soar. Often it is taken in a very hot club and it is not possible for you to control it especially if you are not used to the effects. If you do not manage to get it down, it is likely you will physical collapse require medical help. The drug also makes you naturally thirsty. The temptation is to drink huge amounts of water which can also be very harmful. Too much water affects the level of salts in your body and causes your brain to swell it can be fatal. Many deaths associated from E are from consuming too much water. Drink no more than a small bottle of water per hour. You have to get into a cooler environment out of the main dancing area. Splash your self with water, face, wrists, back of the neck.

Why is GBL so dangerous?

GBL is a solvent used for industrial purposes. It requires very precise dosing. 3ml can make you collapse. You really have to know what you are doing. Any excess from a strict dose risks collapse. It is also extremely dangerous to take it after any amount of alcohol which can lead to coma or in some cases death. There are some people who find they GBL is their drug of choice. After a few weeks they can develop a very high level of dependence. Treatment is very problematic, it is in some ways like treating extreme alcoholism.

Is GBL and GHB the same thing?

Essentially yes. GHB is a similar product and converts to GBL in the body once ingested. They are equally harmful are both controlled as Class C drugs. GBL is more available.

Is 251-NBOMe the same as LSD?

Thelaboratory-produced drug 25I-NBOMe was once a ‘legal’ alternative to another synthetically produced substance known as d-lysergic acid (otherwise known as LSD or acid). Both drugs are taken on a colorful tab with LSD often mis-sold as NBOMe. This substance is extremely potent and it has caused chaotic feelings and panic in users.

Are NBOMe overdoses common?

NBOMe is a powerful hallucinogenic drug. In some people, it has triggered unpredictable behavior leading to panic, occasionally a psychotic reaction and in a few cases death. When the drug first appeared on the market several people in the UK were hospitalised as the drug is incredibly powerful in small doses. This situation is an uncontrollable experience that can develop into confusion, agitation and loss of consciousness.