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Cocaine

Is a stimulant with powerful, short-lived effects that can be highly addictive. ‘Coke’ or cocaine powder is usually divided into lines and snorted. ‘Crack’ and ‘Freebase’ is a form of cocaine made into small lumps or rocks that are usually smoked.

Street names
For powder cocaine: coke, Charlie, C, white, Percy, sow, toot.
For crack: rocks, was, stones, pebbles, base, freebase.

The law
Cocaine and crack are Class A drugs – illegal to have, give away or sell.

Fast fact
Risk of overdosing increases if cocaine is mixed with alcohol.

Health risks
Death from overdoses through convulsions and respiratory or heart failure, also anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, heart seizures, decreased sex drive, serious mental health problems and risk of HIV and hepatitis virus infections.

Heroin and opiates

A natural opiate made from morphine extracted from the opium poppy. Like many drugs made from opium, including synthetic opioids (for example methadone) heroin is a very strong painkiller.

Street names
Brown, skag, H, horse, gear, smack.

The law
Heroin is a class A drug. Possession can lead to a 7-year prison sentence and supplying can lead to a life sentence, both with unlimited fines.

Fast fact
The first dose of heroin can bring about dizziness and vomiting.

Health risks
Death from overdoses, convulsions, heart failure, anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, heart seizures, decreased sex drive, serious mental health problems and risk of HIV and hepatitis virus infections.

Cannabis

Made from parts of the cannabis plant, it’s a naturally occurring sedative and hallucinogen.

Street names
Blow, blunts, dope, draw, ganja, grass, hash, hashish, hemp, herb, marijuana, pot, puff, sensi, shit, skunk, smoke, soap, spliff, wacky backy, weed.

The law
It is an illegal Class B drug.

Fast fact
It’s the most widely used illegal drug in Britain.

Health risks
Increasing evidence of a link between cannabis and mental health problems such as schizophrenia, reduced sperm count and suppressed ovulation, can cause lung disease, cancer and heart problems.

Khat

An addictive drug used for recreational purposes – and a flowering plant native to tropical East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Street names
Quat, qat, qaadka, and chat.

The law
Its active substances, cathinone and cathine, are illegal Class C drugs.

Fast fact
Since 1980 the World Health Organisation listed khat as an addictive drug.

Health risks
Oral cancer, kidney damage, liver damage, gum damage, high blood pressure, aggression, impotence, low sperm count, depression and mental illness.