PART OF college life is about discovering new experiences. For some this may involve trying drugs. UCAS says don't. The Institute for the Study of Drug Dependency has produced an excellent booklet giving information on the types of drugs you may be offered, their effects, their dangers and what to do in an emergency. For copies, call 0171 928 1211.


Effects: Contains ethanol which depresses your nervous system and makes you feel less inhibited. Large quantities cause nausea, disorientation and exaggerated moods.

Dangers: Imbibing can lead to violence, unsafe sex and accidents. Heavy drinking can cause heart disease and brain damage.


(also known as marijuana, hash, blow, gear, ganja, weed)

Effects: A relaxant that changes the way you experience the world, depending on how you feel when you take it. Causes bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth and slow reflexes.

Dangers: Can lead to feelings of paranoia. Smoking cannabis could contribute to lung cancer. Habitual users talk about feeling generally lethargic.


(speed, whizz, billy, sulph)

Effects: A stimulant that works like an adrenaline rush. Keeps you awake and alert One dose can last 6-8 hours.

Dangers: Makes your body work faster and use up resources. A come-down leaves you tired and hungry, and probably anxious, panicky and depressed for a couple of days.

Cocaine or crack

Effects: Powerful stimulant that increases heart rate and raises blood pressure. Increases your confidence and self esteem.

Dangers: A come-down leaves you tired, hungry and possibly paranoid. Temptation to avoid this by bingeing until money runs out. Long term use linked with malnutrition, heart conditions, damage to nasal passages if snorted, or lungs if smoked.


(E, MDMA, smarties, jubes, doves)

Effects: A stimulant and a drug which alters how you experience the world. Makes you lose your appetite, feel hot and sweaty and may have a laxative effect.

Dangers: Some people feel anxious and paranoid. It's easy to become dehydrated, but drinking too much water can cause death as the drug stops the kidneys working effectively. Possible mental health problems in the long term.

Heroin, methadone and other opiates

(H, smack, brown, junk, skag)

Effects: A powerful painkiller which depresses the nervous system, producing insular feelings of safety and warmth. High doses bring on stupor.

Dangers: Difficult to keep use under control. Can affect your motivation to study and your sex drive. Risk of hepatitis and HIV if injected. Death by overdose is common.

LSD and magic mushrooms

Effects: Contain hallucinogens which affect the way you see things and feel about the world. Familiar objects and people appear strange.

Dangers: LSD can cause "bad trips" lasting up to eight hours and may cause flashbacks later. Danger of eating poisonous mushrooms. Can cause confusions if you are an anxious type.