Here is a little bit about some of the most common recreational illegal drugs used in the UK. I feel there is a real need for more people to stand up and say yeah I use or have used these drugs sometimes and I feel great, my life is great, I haven't hurt anyone, I haven't robbed anyone , I didn't go crazy, I didn't become a heroin addict. All we ever hear in the media is the negative side, the deaths, the destruction of lives that severe drug addiction can bring. I used to smoke marijuana regularly until I gave up tobacco, when I first gave up I had a pipe very occasionally, now I never smoke anything.
When I was younger I used all of the other drugs listed below infrequently, some only once or twice, with no bad experiences. Some of my friends however have not been so fortunate so please be careful. Remember it's supposed to be fun and if it isn't stop it before it stops you!
Taking drugs like marijuana, LSD and mushrooms can really expand your mind, it can open a whole new consciousness. it can also close your mind if you begin using these drugs daily or feel like you 'have' to have them to get by, to have fun or to relax.
Drugs like speed, ecstasy or cocaine can help you party all night and make you feel sociable. now and again that is fine, but again when you find you 'have' to take one of these drugs to go out or start taking these drugs whatever you are doing problems can start. Bad come-downs and psychosis can be a very real problem to regular users.
Heroin is not a recreational drug as it is extremely unsociable. Heroin takes all your troubles away until it wears off. People that get addicted to heroin are usually trying to escape from problems in their life. It can start off for people to use this occasionally, but cane very soon become a daily habit, it is usually all or nothing.
Marijuana comes from the plant cannabis saliva, a relative of the hop plant, used for making beer. It has a leaf made up of 4-8 smaller lance shaped leaves with saw-toothed edges. It comes in 3 forms, resin, grass or oil. The bit that gets you stoned is a substance called delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana varies greatly in strength depending on the concentration of THC. Marijuana is not physically addictive but a minority of users can become psychologically dependant. Smoking marijuana brings the problems associated with smoking tobacco. The effects can sometimes bring out anxiety and unease in the user and these may be heightened for people with mental health problems.
Magic mushrooms, (liberty caps) are hallucinogenic mushrooms. In the UK magic mushrooms are normally psilocybin mushrooms, which contain traces of psilocin, a hallucinogenic drug. The use of mushrooms dates back thousands of years to when ancient peoples took them in search of a ‘heightened state of consciousness and spiritual insight’. Several different species of mushroom have hallucinogenic properties, but the most commonly used mushroom in Britain is the psilocybe semilanceata or liberty cap. Mushrooms are not physically addictive and they do not have the potential for psychologically dependence. When taken they may produce feelings of sickness which are rarely severe. The most serious problem in taking mushrooms is picking the wrong kind. A good guide would be a wise precaution. People taking poisonous mushrooms in the UK have died. If you have any doubt about identification, it is best not to take them.
LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) is a powerful hallucinogenic drug which usually comes either in the form of small pills (microdots), or as ‘tabs’ of impregnated paper. Only a very small amount of LSD is necessary for the drug to have its effect, nevertheless it is difficult to gauge how intense the experience will be as strength varies from batch to batch. A trip can last anything between 5 and 24 hours. LSD powerfully changes perceptions. Familiar objects and people may at one moment appear inexplicably funny, in another frightening. Sense of time can become distorted, music can be heard more acutely and strange patterns seen. LSD use is often an intense experience, the effects are to some degree dependant on the mood of the person taking it and the surroundings in which is it taken. LSD is not physically addictive and it is not usually associated with dependency problems. The problems associated with the use of LSD are mainly psychological. Serious anxiety problems can occur. For some vulnerable individuals it may precipitate a more serious psychological problem, but this is usually as a result of LSD aggravating an existing problem rather than creating a new one. If you feel anxious, depressed or suffer from mental health problems, taking LSD is likely to be an unpleasant experience.
Ecstasy is a drug called MDMA. It is a stimulant drug with some of the properties of LSD, but it doesn’t cause hallucinations. The effects can include an increase in heart rate, loss of appetite, feelings of serenity and calm, emotional closeness and understanding with people around. There is often an increase in the sensitivity of both touch and hearing.. Ecstasy isn’t physically addictive, but a psychological dependence can occur. With frequent use tolerance can build up so that more has to be used to get the same effect. On stopping it some people feel depressed and tired, but this eases with time. Most people who take ecstasy on an occasional basis have few problems.
Cocaine and Amphetamine
Cocaine and Amphetamines are stimulant drugs. In general your whole nervous system is excited and speeded up. This produces an increase in heart rate and breathing, and in the size of your pupils. Hands may become sweaty as the body heats up, and you lose your appetite. Generally you feel energetic and talkative. Both have the potential to be addictive and powder can be cut with a variety of other substances. 'Coming down' can be quite an unpleasant experience, some users may want to do more to avoid the 'come down' or take a 'downer' e.g. heroin or Valium for a pleasant 'come down'.
"No, I don't do drugs any more, either. But I'll tell you something about drugs. I used to do drugs, but I'll tell you something honestly about drugs, honestly, and I know it's not a very popular idea, you don't hear it very often any more, but it is the truth: I had a great time doing drugs. Sorry. Never murdered anyone, never robbed anyone, never raped anyone, never beat anyone, never lost a job, a car, a house, a wife or kids, laughed my ass off, and went about my day.
I feel there is basically, (and this is a big generalisation here) two types of drug user. One type uses drugs such as marijuana, mushrooms, ecstasy, LSD or amphetamines for recreational purposes, just like someone might like going skydiving or canoeing some weekends. This type of drug use is not without risks (but then nor is skydiving or canoeing) but is fundamentally different from the other sort of use. The other type uses drugs such as heroin or crack cocaine. This type will often end up using needles and are addicted. This type of drug use is out of control and has taken over a person’s life.
Deaths from drug use (figures from 2002)
It is estimated that each year in the U.K. over 120,000 people die from tobacco-related diseases, particularly from cancer, respiratory diseases and heart disease.
Estimates of annual alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales vary from 5,000 to 40,000. This includes deaths from cirrhosis of the liver and other health problems from long-term drinking, deliberate and accidental overdose, traffic deaths, fatal accidents while drunk etc.
A national register of solvent-related deaths recorded 63 deaths associated with volatile substance abuse in 2001. This number is similar to previous years, and deaths have remained stable at 75 per year since a peak of 152 in 1990.
Deaths associated with different illegal drugs are also difficult to judge accurately. One exception is ecstasy with over 200 ecstasy-related deaths being reported from 1987 to the present day. In 2001 and 2002 there was 55 deaths both years.
In 2001 there was 83 registered deaths and 93 in 2002.
In 2001 there was 96 registered deaths and 139 in 2002.
Opiates (heroin, morphine & methadone)
In 2001 there was 1106 registered deaths and 1006 in 2002.
Deaths from AIDS among injecting drug users who have contracted HIV by sharing injecting equipment are also difficult to judge exactly. However, by March 1999 in the UK almost 3,500 drug injectors had tested positive for HIV and over 1,000 had been diagnosed with full-blown AIDS.
In relation to the whole range of problems which can happen to those who use drugs, death is by far the least likely outcome, but one which, not surprisingly, attracts most attention and causes most concern. Like all data about illegal drug use, information about deaths comes from a variety of sources that combine to present a patchy and incomplete picture.
This page is dedicated to the memory of those loved ones that have passed away due to legal and illegal drugs.