Drugs and new trends - Drug awareness fact sheets

Warning

The effects experienced by users may vary based on their physical and mental health, size, weight, sex, age, the amount taken, the degree of purity of the substance, how it is taken and the context of use (mixed with other drugs or alcohol, where the drug is taken, psychological and emotional state, etc.).

Depressants (Downers)

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants are drugs that slow down brain activity by reducing arousal of the brain's cerebral cortex. They have a calming effect.

Benzodiazepines (AtivanMD, XanaxMD, ValiumMD)

Benzodiazepines

  • Description: Tablets, capsules.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested
  • Common names: Downers, Nerve pills, Sleepers, Tranks, Bars, Z-Bars, Barbs
  • Desired effects: Disinhibition, muscle relaxant effects, reduced anxiety, sedation, sleep.
  • Side effects: Fatigue, lethargy, altered judgement/mood, decreased awareness, anterograde amnesia (occurring during drug use), blurred vision, vertigo, depression, hostility, aggressiveness, sexual disorder. In case of overdose: Stupor, deep sleep, coma. Withdrawal symptoms: Anxiety, tachycardia, palpitations, visual hallucinations, convulsions.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Irritability, disorientation, psychomotor disorder, confusion, dry mouth, skin rash, nausea and vomiting.
  • Legal status: The possession of this substance without a prescription is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: The first benzodiazepine was introduced in medicine in 1961. Since then, benzodiazepines have been widely used in medicine to treat anxiety and insomnia. These substances are normally produced by the pharmaceutical industry and take the form of tablets, gel caps and, occasionally, injectable solutions. Benzodiazepines act by weakening the central nervous system.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • Tolerance to therapeutic and toxic effects can occur, particularly in the case of significant dose escalation.
  • Benzodiazepines present a high pharmacodependence potential, affecting 40 to 80% of users. Pharmacodependence can develop after as little as four to six weeks of daily use. It is characterized by the need to increase doses and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to relieve anxiety and insomnia.
  • Abuse of prescription drugs can lead to addiction and be just as harmful as illicit drugs.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl

  • Description: White to brown powder, patches, tablets of different shapes and colours.
  • Usual consumption methods: Topic, ingested (chewed) snorted, inhaled, injected
  • Common names: China white, China girl, Persian girl, Egg White, Synthetic heroin, Patch, Sticky, Sticker
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, pain relief, relaxation, sedation, control of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Side effects: Dizziness, depression, anxiety, decreased breathing, blurred vision, decreased libido, loss of appetite, constipation. In case of overdose: Dropping blood pressure, slow breathing, clammy, cold and bluish skin, deep sleep, stupor, coma, death by respiratory depression (very quick).
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Constricted pupils, sweating, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, itching, injection marks.
  • Legal status: The possession of this substance without a prescription is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: In 4000 BC, poppy was already used for its analgesic effect. Opium use later spread to the Middle-East and North Africa. In the 16th Century, after thousands of years of oral use, the practice of smoking opium with or without tobacco started and the first opium-based pharmaceutical preparations were synthetized. At the beginning of the 19th century, morphine and codeine are extracted from opium. From 1935, several analogues of morphine are developed.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • The effects of fentanyl are unpredictable. Users have no idea of the level of purity or the potency of what they take.
  • Fentanyl is a synthetic product that is part of the same family as morphine. However, it is fifty to one hundred times more potent.
  • Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or by inhalation and cause damage to health. It is prescribed to relieve chronic pain.
  • In the form of powder, fentanyl is sometimes sold as heroin. In the form of tablets, it is sometimes sold as OxycontinMD or any other opiate.
  • When mixed with antidepressants, fentanyl is potentially mortal.
  • Abuse of prescription drugs can lead to addiction and be just as harmful as illicit drugs.

GHB

GHB

  • Description: Clear liquid, sometimes odourless, sometimes with light salty and soapy taste.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested
  • Common names: GH, Liquid ecstasy, petit jus, Date rape drug
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, reduced inhibition, decreased anxiety, relaxation.
  • Side effects: Slurred speech, sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, urinary incontinence, muscular spasms, tremors, lack of coordination, general anesthesia, amnesia. In case of overdose: Seizures, hallucinations, decreased heart rate, hypotension, watering eyes, respiratory depression, unconsciousness, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Physical dependence.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Sleepiness, confusion, amnesia, slowness of movements, decreased muscle strength.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: In the 1970s, GHB was used for medical purposes. Then, in the 1980s, it was sold as a food supplement in North America and Europe. The over-the-counter sale of GHB was prohibited in 1990 because of the many health problems associated to its use. In April 1998, GHB officially became a prohibited substance in Canada.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • Made mainly from a powerful industrial solvent (GBL), GHB is a drug often associated to parties.
  • GHB is more and more popular, especially among young people.
  • Contrary to popular belief, GHB is mostly taken voluntarily for personal pleasure.
  • GHB also comes in a white powder form.

Heroin

Heroin

  • Description: Powder varying from white to brown.
  • Usual consumption methods: Smoked/inhaled, injected
  • Common names: Smack, China white, Hard stuff, Point, Jazz
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, overall sensation of well-being, sedation.
  • Side effects: Apathy (suppression of emotions), mood disruption, agitation or slowness of movements, lack of concentration, slurred speech, blurred vision, drowsiness. In case of overdose: Stupor, coma, respiratory depression, cardiopulmonary arrest, death.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Constricted pupils, respiratory rate reduction, injection marks, slowed speech and movements, reduced appetite, itchiness and clammy skin, dry mouth, excessive sweating.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Heroin was first synthesized from morphine by a British chemist in 1874 and was subsequently used as an analgesic. In 1920, the first cases of heroin injection were reported. In Canada, heroin was added to the list of prohibited substances in the Opium Act in 1923.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • In most cases, heroin dependence develops rapidly. In many users, it can even set off a process of social marginalization.
  • Heroin is a powerful drug and its effects are unpredictable. Users do not know the actual strength or the purity of drug that they are using.

Opiates - Oxycodone (OxycontinMD, OxyNeoMD, PercocetMD)

Oxycodone and hydromorphone

  • Description: Tablets, capsules or liquid.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested, snorted, injected
  • Common names: Oxy, OC, Hillbilly heroin, Percs
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, pain relief, relaxation, sedation, control of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Side effects: Dizziness, depression, anxiety, decreased breathing, blurred vision, decreased libido, loss of appetite, constipation. In case of overdose: Decreased blood pressure, slow breathing, clammy, cold and bluish skin, deep sleep, stupor, coma, death by respiratory depression.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Injection marks, constricted pupils, sweating, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, itching.
  • Legal status: The possession of this substance without a prescription is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: In 4000 BC, poppy was already used for its analgesic effect. Opium use later spread to the Middle-East and North Africa. In the 16th Century, after thousands of years of oral use, the practice of smoking opium with or without tobacco started and the first opium-based pharmaceutical preparations were synthetized. At the beginning of the 19th century, morphine and codeine are extracted from opium. From 1935, several analogues of morphine are developed.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • Oxycodone is a product that is part of the same family as morphine.
  • It is prescribed to relieve chronic pain.
  • •Abuse of prescription drugs can lead to addiction and be just as harmful as illicit drugs.

Opiates - Hydromorphone (DilaudidMD, Hydromorph ContinMD)

Oxycodone and hydromorphone

  • Description: Tablets, capsules or liquid.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested, snorted, injected
  • Common names: Dilos, Hydro, Juice, Dillies, Dust
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, pain relief, relaxation, sedation, control of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Side effects: Dizziness, depression, anxiety, decreased breathing, blurred vision, decreased libido, loss of appetite, constipation. In case of overdose: Decreased blood pressure, slow breathing, clammy, cold and bluish skin, deep sleep, stupor, coma, death by respiratory depression.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Injection marks, constricted pupils, sweating, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, itching.
  • Legal status: The possession of this substance without a prescription is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: In 4000 BC, poppy was already used for its analgesic effect. Opium use later spread to the Middle-East and North Africa. In the 16th Century, after thousands of years of oral use, the practice of smoking opium with or without tobacco started and the first opium-based pharmaceutical preparations were synthetized. At the beginning of the 19th century, morphine and codeine are extracted from opium. From 1935, several analogues of morphine are developed.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • Hydromorphone is a product that is part of the same family as morphine.
  • It is prescribed to relieve chronic pain.
  • Abuse of prescription drugs can lead to addiction and be just as harmful as illicit drugs.

Morphine

Morphine

  • Description: Tablets or gel caps, drinkable solution, injectable liquid.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested, snorted, injected
  • Common names: M, Morph, Red rockets
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, pain relief, relaxation, sedation, control of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Side effects: Dizziness, depression, anxiety, decreased breathing, blurred vision, decreased libido, loss of appetite, constipation. In case of overdose: Dropping blood pressure, slow breathing, clammy, cold and bluish skin, deep sleep, stupor, coma, death by respiratory depression.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Constricted pupils, sweating, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, itching, injection marks.
  • Legal status: The possession of this substance without a prescription is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: In 4000 BC, poppy was already used for its analgesic effect. Opium use later spread to the Middle-East and North Africa. In the 16th Century, after thousands of years of oral use, the practice of smoking opium with or without tobacco started and the first opium-based pharmaceutical preparations were synthetized. At the beginning of the 19th century, morphine and codeine are extracted from opium. From 1935, several analogues of morphine are developed.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • Morphine is prescribed to relieve acute pain.
  • Abuse of prescription drugs can lead to addiction and be just as harmful as illicit drugs.

Volatile substances - Volatile solvents

Volatile solvents

  • Description: Liquids that evaporate readily at room temperature (fuel, cleaning products, glue, aerosol, solvent and others).
  • Usual consumption methods: Inhaled
  • Common names: Air blast, Glue, Moon gas, Hippie crack, Whiteout, Sniff
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, alcohol-like intoxication, perceptual distortion, hallucinations (auditory, visual and tactile), lightheadedness, disinhibition.
  • Side effects: Partial or total amnesia of events that occur during intoxication, headaches, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, stomach cramps, ringing in the ears. In case of overdose: Ataxia, muscle weakness, arrhythmia, anesthesia, convulsions, respiratory depression, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Drowsiness, slurred speech, ataxia, agitation, aggressiveness, hypersalivation, sneezzing, cough, redness in the face, disorientation, confusion.
  • Legal status: These substances are legal and available over-the-counter.
  • History: Volatile substance abuse in Western countries is common since the early 1900s. Adolescent glue sniffing was first noted in the United States during the 1940s, while gas sniffing subsequently appeared during the following decade. Footnote 2
Important messages
  • Volatile solvents are potent psychotropic drugs.
  • They can cause sudden sniffing death syndrome, usually resulting from cardiac arrest. Butane and propane are the most commonly used substances.
  • Volatile solvent abuse can lead to sometimes irreversible damage to the kidneys, liver, muscles and brain.

Volatile substances - Volatile anesthetics

Volatile anesthetics

  • Description: Substances in gas or liquid form used to induce general anesthesia (ether, chloroform, nitrous oxyde, etc.).
  • Usual consumption methods: Inhaled
  • Common names: Laughing gas (nitrous oxyde), Whippets
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, laughing, alcohol-like intoxication, stimulation, loss of inhibition.
  • Side effects: Headaches, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea. In case of overdose: Motor dysfunction, paresthesia, altered perceptions, convulsions, respiratory depression, arrhythmia, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Drowsiness, irrational or aggressive behaviour, disorientation, confusion, slurred speech, impaired coordination, general muscle weakness.
  • Legal status: These substances are legal and available over-the-counter.
  • History: Volatile substance abuse in Western countries is common since the early 1900s. Adolescent glue sniffing was first noted in the United States during the 1940s, while gas sniffing subsequently appeared during the following decade.Footnote 2
Important messages
  • Volatile anesthetics are mainly used in hospitals and laboratories. However, nitrous oxide is also found in whipped cream dispenser chargers. These chargers are also sold separately in hardware stores and stores selling small appliances.
  • The greatest risk of using volatile anesthetic gas is death by asphyxia or respiratory depression.

Stimulants (Uppers)

Stimulants activate the psychic functions by increasing wakefulness and general brain activity. They accelerate the thinking process.

Amphetamine/methamphetamine (tablets)

Amphetamine/methamphetamine

  • Description: Tablets of different shapes, colours and logos
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested
  • Common names: Speed, Peanut, Pills
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased energy and mental awareness, reduced appetite, sense of well-being.
  • Side effects: Anxiety, irritability, impaired judgment, increased heart rate and body temperature, tactile hallucinations, reduced appetite, aggressive thoughts, anger, paranoia, insomnia. In case of overdose: Hypertension, chest pain, kidney failure, convulsions, toxic psychosis, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Agitation, dilated pupils, sweating or chills, dry mouth, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, tremors, confusion, necrosis of the skin.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 by an Italian chemist. In 1920, amphetamine is used for the treatment of asthma. At the same time, methamphetamine was synthesized by a Japanese chemist. In 1937, amphetamine is recommended in the treatment of narcolepsy and depression. The large-scale production of the crystallized form of methamphetamine started around 1980. In 2005, methamphetamine was added to the list of prohibited substances in the Controlled Drugs and Other Substances Act in response to growing concerns about its negative consequences.
Important messages
  • Methamphetamine is at least twice as powerful as amphetamine. In addition to being toxic for the nervous system, it can cause permanent brain damage.
  • Use of methamphetamine and amphetamine can rapidly lead to abuse and dependence problems.
  • Methamphetamine is one of the substances most commonly found in designer drug pills sold in Quebec.
  • The risk of dependence is ten times greater when the drug is inhaled or injected (faster effect).

Amphetamine/methamphetamine (powder)

Amphetamine/methamphetamine

  • Description: White powder also found in various colours
  • Usual consumption methods: Smoked/inhaled, injected, snorted
  • Common names: Meth, Speed
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased energy and mental awareness, reduced appetite, sense of well-being.
  • Side effects: Anxiety, irritability, impaired judgment, increased heart rate and body temperature, tactile hallucinations, reduced appetite, aggressive thoughts, anger, paranoia, insomnia. In case of overdose: Hypertension, chest pain, kidney failure, convulsions, toxic psychosis, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Agitation, dilated pupils, sweating or chills, dry mouth, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, tremors, confusion, necrosis of the skin.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 by an Italian chemist. In 1920, amphetamine is used for the treatment of asthma. At the same time, methamphetamine was synthesized by a Japanese chemist. In 1937, amphetamine is recommended in the treatment of narcolepsy and depression. The large-scale production of the crystallized form of methamphetamine started around 1980. In 2005, methamphetamine was added to the list of prohibited substances in the Controlled Drugs and Other Substances Act in response to growing concerns about its negative consequences.
Important messages
  • Methamphetamine is at least twice as powerful as amphetamine. In addition to being toxic for the nervous system, it can cause permanent brain damage.
  • Use of methamphetamine and amphetamine can rapidly lead to abuse and dependence problems.
  • Methamphetamine is one of the substances most commonly found in designer drug pills sold in Quebec.
  • The risk of dependence is ten times greater when the drug is inhaled or injected (faster effect).

Methamphetamine (crystal)

Amphetamine/methamphetamine

  • Description: Fine glossed transparent crystals
  • Usual consumption methods: Smoked/inhaled, injected
  • Common names: Crystal meth, Glass, Ice, cristal, Tina
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased energy and mental awareness, reduced appetite, sense of well-being.
  • Side effects: Anxiety, irritability, impaired judgment, increased heart rate and body temperature, tactile hallucinations, reduced appetite, aggressive thoughts, anger, paranoia, insomnia. In case of overdose: Hypertension, chest pain, kidney failure, convulsions, toxic psychosis, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Agitation, dilated pupils, sweating or chills, dry mouth, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, tremors, confusion, necrosis of the skin.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 by an Italian chemist. In 1920, amphetamine is used for the treatment of asthma. At the same time, methamphetamine was synthesized by a Japanese chemist. In 1937, amphetamine is recommended in the treatment of narcolepsy and depression. The large-scale production of the crystallized form of methamphetamine started around 1980. In 2005, methamphetamine was added to the list of prohibited substances in the Controlled Drugs and Other Substances Act in response to growing concerns about its negative consequences.
Important messages
  • Methamphetamine is at least twice as powerful as amphetamine. In addition to being toxic for the nervous system, it can cause permanent brain damage.
  • Use of methamphetamine and amphetamine can rapidly lead to abuse and dependence problems.
  • Methamphetamine is one of the substances most commonly found in designer drug pills sold in Quebec.
  • The risk of dependence is ten times greater when the drug is inhaled or injected (faster effect).

Cocaine

Cocaine

  • Description: Shiny crystalline powder
  • Usual consumption methods: Injected, snorted
  • Common names: Coke, Powder, Coca, Snow
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased sociability, energy and vigorous feeling, increased mental awareness and self-esteem, enhanced sensory perceptions (visual, auditory, kinesthetic and sexual).
  • Side effects: Anxiety, depression, reduced appetite, accelerated heart rate, hypertension. In case of overdose: Chest pain, arrhythmia, confusion, convulsions, respiratory depression, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Dilated pupils, dehydration, chapped (dried) nostrils, nosebleeds, injection marks, sniffing, dry mouth and lips, slurred speech, lack of coordination, sweating, tremors, hyperactivity.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Coca leaf chewing by native people in South America dates back to the 1st Century. Around 1860 was the launch of Coca-Cola and Vin Mariani, both containing cocaine. Cocaine was later used as an anesthetic in dentistry and ophthalmology. After various cases of medical cocaine poisoning were reported, cocaine was finally removed from Coca-Cola and prohibited in the Opium and Drug Act in 1911.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • The toxicity of cutting agents and other contaminants, such as levamisole (animal dewormer), found in cocaine can cause serious health side effects.
  • Cocaine also produces strong psychological dependence that can be difficult to overcome.

Crack

Crack

  • Description: Little rocks colour ranging between white to yellowish cream to brown
  • Usual consumption methods: Smoked/inhaled
  • Common names: Crack, roche, Freebase
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased sociability, energy and vigorous feeling, increased mental awareness and self-esteem, enhanced sensory perceptions (visual, auditory, kinesthetic and sexual).
  • Side effects: Anxiety, depression, reduced appetite, accelerated heart rate, hypertension. In case of overdose: Chest pain, arrhythmia, confusion, convulsions, respiratory depression, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Dilated pupils, dehydration, chapped (dried) nostrils, nosebleeds, injection marks, sniffing, dry mouth and lips, slurred speech, lack of coordination, sweating, tremors, hyperactivity.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Coca leaf chewing by native people in South America dates back to the 1st Century. Around 1860 was the launch of Coca-Cola and Vin Mariani, both containing cocaine. Cocaine was later used as an anesthetic in dentistry and ophthalmology. After various cases of medical cocaine poisoning were reported, cocaine was finally removed from Coca-Cola and prohibited in the Opium and Drug Act in 1911.Footnote 1
Important messages
  • The toxicity of cutting agents and other contaminants, such as levamisole (animal dewormer), found in cocaine can cause serious health side effects.
  • Cocaine also produces strong psychological dependence that can be difficult to overcome.

Khat (Catha edulis)

Khat

  • Description: Crimson-brown leaves
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested (chewed)
  • Common names: Khat, Qat, Tat, Tchat, African salad
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, exaltation, increased energy, increased self-esteem, increased proclivity for social interaction.
  • Side effects: Headaches, blurred vision, emotional instability, irritability, loss of appetite, hyperthermia, tachycardia and hypertension, depression. In case of overdose: Constipation, psychosis, paranoia, intracerebral hemorrhage, pulmonary edema and infarction.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Dilated pupils, anorexia, dry mouth.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Catha edulis is used in ancestral rituals where fresh leaves are chewed for their stimulating effects. Khat is a shrub native to tropical East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, more particularly Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen. The leaves contain amphetamine-like stimulants, namely cathinone and cathine, which are controlled substances in Canada since 1997. Substances such as mephedrone and MDPV are synthetic derivatives of cathinone and are found in the form of tablets and powder.
Important messages
  • Regular use of Catha edulis is associated to mouth cancer.

MDPV/Mephedrone

MDPV/Mephedrone

  • Description: Crystals or crystalline powder generally white in colour
  • Usual consumption methods: Snorted
  • Common names: Bath salts, Plant food, Synthetic cocaine
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased energy, excitement, increased mental awareness, increased sociability and sexual arousal.
  • Side effects: Increased heart rate, hypertension, arrhythmia, hallucinations, agitation, chest pain, anxiety. In case of overdose: Panic attacks, extreme violence, paranoia, toxic psychosis, convulsions, death.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Confusion, excessive sweating, skin discolouration, nausea and vomiting, erratic behaviour, extreme agitation.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: MDPV is a synthetic derivative of cathinone, a controlled substance in Canada since 1997. Mephedrone is a synthetic derivative of cathinone, a controlled substance in Canada since 1997.
Important messages
  • MDPV is a powerful drug with devastating effects.
  • Bath salts are designer drugs that produce stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. They can contain one or more chemical substances, the most common being MDPV and mephedrone.
  • They should not be confused with conventional bath salts sold for hygienic purposes.
  • Because of its hallucinogenic properties, MDPV also fits the hallucinogens category.

MDPV

MDPV/Mephedrone

  • Description: Tablets of different shapes, colours and logos
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested
  • Common names: Speed, Ecstasy
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased energy, excitement, increased mental awareness, increased sociability and sexual arousal.
  • Side effects: Increased heart rate, hypertension, arrhythmia, hallucinations, agitation, chest pain, anxiety. In case of overdose: Panic attacks, extreme violence, paranoia, toxic psychosis, convulsions, death..
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Confusion, excessive sweating, skin discolouration, nausea and vomiting, erratic behaviour, extreme agitation.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: MDPV is a synthetic derivative of cathinone, a controlled substance in Canada since 1997. Mephedrone is a synthetic derivative of cathinone, a controlled substance in Canada since 1997.
Important messages
  • MDPV is a powerful drug with devastating effects.
  • Bath salts are designer drugs that produce stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. They can contain one or more chemical substances, the most common being MDPV and mephedrone.
  • They should not be confused with conventional bath salts sold for hygienic purposes.
  • Because of its hallucinogenic properties, MDPV also fits the hallucinogens category.

Methylphenidate (RitalinMD, ConcertaMD)

Methylphenidate

  • Description: White crystalline powder, tablets, capsules.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested, snorted, injected/li>
  • Common names: Vitamin R, R-Ball, Smart Drug, Uppers, Kiddy Coke, Skittles, Skippy, Rid, Beans, Dexies
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased cognitive performance, weight loss, increased attention, increased awareness.
  • Side effects: DTrouble sleeping, nervousness, stomach pain, loss of appetite, dry mouth, weight loss, irritability, agitation, moodiness, palpitations. In case of overdose: Headaches, tachycardia, hyperthermia, arrhythmia, convulsions, coma.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Motor or verbal tics, hyperreflexia, tremors, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, sweating, dilated pupils, redness of the skin.
  • Legal status: The possession of this substance without a prescription is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Synthesized methylphenidate, the main active ingredient of RitalinMD and ConcertaMD, is used as antidepressant and appetite suppressant. In the 1990s, the total amount of methylphenidate produced world-wide started to increase rapidly. Methylphenidate has been used in the treatment of attention-deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD) since 2009. The illicit use of methylphenidate for recreational purposes or to enhance cognitive performance was first noted in 2011.
Important messages
  • Methylphenidate is prescribed for treatment of attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD).
  • In the context of abuse, methylphenidate is used to increase academic and cognitive performance.
  • Methylphenidate is also used as a substitute to methamphetamine (Speed).
  • Other types of psycho-stimulants (AdderallMD, VyvanseMD) can also be used in the context of abuse.
  • Psychostimulants abusers change consumption method or increase doses.
  • Abuse of prescription drugs can lead to addiction and be just as harmful as illicit drugs.

Hallucinogens (All Arounders)

Hallucinogens substances affect the psychic functions. They alter sensory perception and cause changes in user's mood, thoughts and consciousness.

BZP-TFMPP

BZP-TFMPP

  • Description: Tablets of different shapes, colours and logos, capsules, fine crystal powder.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested, snorted
  • Common names: Ecstasy, Legal X
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, increased energy, vitality, alertness.
  • Side effects: Urinary retention, visual hallucinations, paranoia, depression, chest pain, insomnia, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, headaches. In case of overdose: Tachycardia, agitation, hyperthermia, convulsions, brain swelling.
  • Type of dependence: Risk of physical or psychological dependence unknown.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Dilated pupils, confusion.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Benzylpiperazine (BZP) was developed as an antidepressant in the 1970s but was never commercialized. In fact, because of its side effects and addictive properties similar to those of amphetamine, this substance was never clinically used in humans. In the 1990s, BZP was mostly illicitly used at dance parties and raves. It was initially sold on the Internet as a legal alternative to MDMA (Ecstasy). BZP is often sold in the form of tablets mixed with other piperazines like Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP). BZP is illegal in the United States since 2004 and in Canada since 2012.
Important messages
  • BZP-TFMPP tablets are often sold as Ecstasy.

Synthetic cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids

  • Description: Mixture of herbs, spices or organic materials
  • Usual consumption methods: Smoked/inhaled
  • Common names: Spice, Yucatan fire, K2, JWH-018, JWH-073, HU-210, HU-211, CP 47
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, sense of well-being, laughter, sense of calm and relaxation, sociability, carelessness, enhanced sensory perceptions.
  • Side effects: Drowsiness, altered time perception, short term memory loss, confusion, depression. In case of overdose: Sedation, slurred speech, ataxia (lack of fine motor coordination), respiratory depression, coma, death.
  • Type of dependence: Risk of physical or psychological dependence unknown.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Redness of the eyes, dry mouth, lack of coordination, tremors.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: In the 1960s, an American chemist discovered that it was possible to synthesize marihuana. The first one hundred milligrams of synthetic cannabinoid (JWH-018) were tested on laboratory rats. Spice was the first brand name of synthetic cannabinoids commercialized in Europe in 1995. The company THC Pharm detected the presence of another synthetic cannabinoid (JWH-108) in more than one sample of Spice Gold, which led to a wave of international legislations.
Important messages
  • Synthetic cannabinoids are 100% chemical substances vaporised on a mixture of herbs, spices or organic materials.
  • The effects of synthetic cannabinoids are similar to those of cannabis.

Cannabis - Marijuana

Cannabis (marijuana, haschish, haschish oil)

  • Description: Leaves and dried leaves (buds); colour varying from green to brown.
  • Usual consumption methods: Smoked/inhaled, ingested
  • Common names: Pot, Weed, Marijuana, Mari, Marijane, Grass, Green
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, sense of well-being, laughter, sense of calm and relaxation, sociability, carelessness, enhanced sensory perceptions.
  • Side effects: Altered time perception, physical and mental slowness, loss of concentration, ambition and initiative, decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate. In case of overdose: Motivation loss, drowsiness, confusion, disorientation, delirium, depression, toxic psychosis, activation of latent schizophrenia.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Redness of the eyes, dry mouth, lack of coordination, uncontrolled appetite.
  • Legal status: Cannabis is legal in Canada for individuals 18 years of age or older. It is subject to the Cannabis Act, under which an adult may possess up to 30 g of dried cannabis or its equivalent. It is still prohibited to sell it without a licence issued by Health Canada. The classes of cannabis authorized for sale with a licence are listed in Schedule 4 of the Cannabis Act. Criminal penalties will be imposed on individuals who do not respect the Act. Offences vary from possession of an amount greater than 30 g of legal cannabis in a public place to possession and/or the sale of illicit cannabis, importation or exportation and production without authorization provided for in the Act. All these offences are subject to sanctions that may vary from one province to another.
  • History: At end of the 19th century, cannabis was used in Western countries to treat and relieve migraine headaches, spasms, asthma and cough. It was sold over-the-counter in pharmacies. In 1923, cannabis was included as a prohibited substance in the Opium Act (1911). The popularity of marihuana reached a peak in 1970. Cannabis became illegal in 1997 with the adoption of the Controlled Drugs and other Substances Act. In 2001, the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) allows some patients suffering from severe illnesses to use marihuana for medical purposes. In October 2018, cannabis becomes legal in Canada for individuals 18 years of age or older according to the Cannabis Act.
Important messages
  • Cannabis must not be considered trivial.
  • Regular use can lead to psychological dependence.
  • Physical dependence can also occur with daily use in large quantity.
  • Cannabis trafficking is a significant source of profits for criminal organizations. They use these profits to fund their other illicit activities which have serious repercussions on our communities.

Cannabis - Haschish

Cannabis (marijuana, haschish, haschish oil)

  • Description: Thick opaque paste; light brown to black in colour
  • Usual consumption methods: Smoked/inhaled
  • Common names: Hash, Resin, Brown
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, sense of well-being, laughter, sense of calm and relaxation, sociability, carelessness, enhanced sensory perceptions.
  • Side effects: Altered time perception, physical and mental slowness, loss of concentration, ambition and initiative, decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate. In case of overdose: Motivation loss, drowsiness, confusion, disorientation, delirium, depression, toxic psychosis, activation of latent schizophrenia.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Redness of the eyes, dry mouth, lack of coordination, uncontrolled appetite.
  • Legal status: Cannabis is legal in Canada for individuals 18 years of age or older. It is subject to the Cannabis Act, under which an adult may possess up to 30 g of dried cannabis or its equivalent. It is still prohibited to sell it without a licence issued by Health Canada. The classes of cannabis authorized for sale with a licence are listed in Schedule 4 of the Cannabis Act. Criminal penalties will be imposed on individuals who do not respect the Act. Offences vary from possession of an amount greater than 30 g of legal cannabis in a public place to possession and/or the sale of illicit cannabis, importation or exportation and production without authorization provided for in the Act. All these offences are subject to sanctions that may vary from one province to another.
  • History: At end of the 19th century, cannabis was used in Western countries to treat and relieve migraine headaches, spasms, asthma and cough. It was sold over-the-counter in pharmacies. In 1923, cannabis was included as a prohibited substance in the Opium Act (1911). The popularity of marihuana reached a peak in 1970. Cannabis became illegal in 1997 with the adoption of the Controlled Drugs and other Substances Act. In 2001, the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) allows some patients suffering from severe illnesses to use marihuana for medical purposes. In October 2018, cannabis becomes legal in Canada for individuals 18 years of age or older according to the Cannabis Act.
Important messages
  • Cannabis must not be considered trivial.
  • Regular use can lead to psychological dependence.
  • Physical dependence can also occur with daily use in large quantity.
  • Cannabis trafficking is a significant source of profits for criminal organizations. They use these profits to fund their other illicit activities which have serious repercussions on our communities.

Cannabis - Haschish oil

Cannabis (marijuana, haschish, haschish oil)

  • Description: Thick, viscous liquid; yellow, orange, brown or black in colour.
  • Usual consumption methods: Smoked/inhaled
  • Common names: Oil, Liquid hash, Marijuana oil, Honey oil
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, sense of well-being, laughter, sense of calm and relaxation, sociability, carelessness, enhanced sensory perceptions.
  • Side effects: Altered time perception, physical and mental slowness, loss of concentration, ambition and initiative, decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate. In case of overdose: Motivation loss, drowsiness, confusion, disorientation, delirium, depression, toxic psychosis, activation of latent schizophrenia.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Redness of the eyes, dry mouth, lack of coordination, uncontrolled appetite.
  • Legal status: Cannabis is legal in Canada for individuals 18 years of age or older. It is subject to the Cannabis Act, under which an adult may possess up to 30 g of dried cannabis or its equivalent. It is still prohibited to sell it without a licence issued by Health Canada. The classes of cannabis authorized for sale with a licence are listed in Schedule 4 of the Cannabis Act. Criminal penalties will be imposed on individuals who do not respect the Act. Offences vary from possession of an amount greater than 30 g of legal cannabis in a public place to possession and/or the sale of illicit cannabis, importation or exportation and production without authorization provided for in the Act. All these offences are subject to sanctions that may vary from one province to another.
  • History: At end of the 19th century, cannabis was used in Western countries to treat and relieve migraine headaches, spasms, asthma and cough. It was sold over-the-counter in pharmacies. In 1923, cannabis was included as a prohibited substance in the Opium Act (1911). The popularity of marihuana reached a peak in 1970. Cannabis became illegal in 1997 with the adoption of the Controlled Drugs and other Substances Act. In 2001, the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) allows some patients suffering from severe illnesses to use marihuana for medical purposes. In October 2018, cannabis becomes legal in Canada for individuals 18 years of age or older according to the Cannabis Act.
Important messages
  • Cannabis must not be considered trivial.
  • Regular use can lead to psychological dependence.
  • Physical dependence can also occur with daily use in large quantity.
  • Cannabis trafficking is a significant source of profits for criminal organizations. They use these profits to fund their other illicit activities which have serious repercussions on our communities.

Magic mushrooms (psilocybin)

Magic mushrooms (psilocybin)

  • Description: Fresh, dried, powder or capsules
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested
  • Common names: Magic mushrooms, Mush, Mushrooms, Shrooms, Shrum
  • Desired effects: Relaxation, daydreaming, sensitivity, illusions, hallucinations.
  • Side effects: HDizziness, altered color perceptions, altered time and space perceptions, impaired judgment, increased blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Hot flashes, numbness, lack of coordination, nausea and vomiting.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Psilocybin (active ingredient) was isolated from the psilocybe mushroom and commercialized in 1960. The 1970s saw a decrease in the use of magic mushrooms with the decline of the hippie movement. In fact, in 1974, it became illegal to grow and use magic mushrooms. In the 1980s, there was an ambiguity as to their legal status, and tools used to plant and grow magic mushrooms were advertised in certain magazines.
Important messages
  • Magic mushrooms are not known to cause physical or psychological dependence.
  • They do lead to a very strong tolerance, which means the body gets used to them and requires higher and higher doses to get the same effects.
  • The more one takes, the higher the risk of intoxication.
  • Users may sometimes experience hallucinations for up to four days after taking magic mushrooms.

2C Family: 2C-B (Nexus)

Nexus

  • Description: Tablets of different shapes, colours and logos, capsules, fine crystal powder, blotters, liquid.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested, snorted
  • Common names: Acid, Liquid acid, Ecstasy, LSD, Nexus, Toonies, Bromo
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, enhanced sensory perceptions, sociability, visual hallucinations, sensual and sexual excitement.
  • Side effects: Hallucinations, tachycardia, agitation, elevated blood pressure, hyperthermia. In case of overdose: Frightening hallucinations, agitation, hypertension, aggression, violence, excited delirium, seizures, respiratory depression, death.
  • Type of dependence: Unknown
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Tremors, lack of coordination, chills, muscle clenching, increased mucus production, nausea, vomiting.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Synthesized in 1974 by American chemist Alexander Shulgin, 2C-B was put on the market in 1980 as a substitute to Ecstasy (MDMA). It became more popular after MDMA was classified as a controlled substance in 1985. 2C-B became illegal in the United States in 1994 and in Canada in 1997.
Important messages
  • 2C-B tablets are often sold as Ecstasy.
  • In the form of a blotter the 2C family substances can also be sold as LSD.
  • 2C-B has no known physical dependence but 2C-B use leads to tolerance, which means the body gets used to it and requires higher doses to get the same effects.

Ketamine

Kétamine

  • Description: White powder
  • Usual consumption methods: Snorted
  • Common names: Special K, K, Vitamin K
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, floating sensation, stimulation, insensitivity to pain, out of body experience (hallucinations), fantasy interactions (spiritual journeys).
  • Side effects: Thought disorder, dissociative experience, altered mood, perceptions, thoughts and state of consciousness, altered vision, bad trip. In case of overdose: Paralysis, convulsions, prolonged sedation, death by respiratory depression.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Unconsciousness, memory loss, lack of coordination, slurred speech, fever, nose bleeding, nausea, anxiety, confusion, slowed breathing.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Ketamine was synthesized as a substitute for phencyclidine (PCP) and introduced as a general anesthetic in 1965. Ketamine produces a dissociative state and was used for surgeries performed in the battle fields during the Vietnam War. In 1968, ketamine was used in animal surgery and pediatrics. It became a recreational drug in 1970. In 1995, ketamine appeared in the Food and Drug Regulations and was finally included in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in 2002.
Important messages
  • Ketamine is often used in voluntary overdose to produce a near death experience.
  • The experience is considered "successful" if the user can be resuscitated.
  • Ketamine also comes in liquid form.

LSD

LSD

  • Description: White powder, tablets in various colours, shapes and logos, sugar lump, solution applied on blotting paper.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested
  • Common names: Acid, Blotter, Acid cap
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, sensory, time and space distortion, sensation of floating and lightness, feeling of oneness with the universe, cosmic experience, deep feeling of introspection and insight.
  • Side effects: Fear, anxiety, depression, paranoid state, panic attack. In case of overdose: Hyperthermia, hypertension, arrhythmia, central vasospasm, convulsions, coma.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Bad trip, strange behaviour, delirium, terrifying hallucinations.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: In the 1950s, the CIA became interested in LSD as a "truth serum". Later, LSD was used by a former agent of the US Secret Service as a treatment for alcoholism. While LSD was largely studied as an adjuvant to psychotherapy, it became illegal in Canada in 1962 and in the United States in 1965.
Important messages
  • Psychological dependence reported in some regular users. Bad trips are more common in new users.

MDMA (Ecstasy)

MDMA (Ecstasy)

  • Description: Tablets of different colours, shapes and logos, or capsules or crystalline powder
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested
  • Common names: Ecstasy, E, Molly, Party pill, Speed
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, intensification of emotions, feeling of sensuality and increased need to be intimate, altered sensual perceptions and pleasure.
  • Side effects: Anxiety, insomnia, motivation loss, visual hallucinations, fatigue, depressive state, increased blood pressure and heart rate, urinary retention. In case of overdose: Agitation, panic, paranoia, convulsions, major depression, toxic psychosis, kidney failure.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Dilated pupils, increased sociability, excessive sweating, teeth grinding, tension of the jaw, reduced appetite.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: MDMA (Ecstasy) was used on an experimental basis in psychotherapy treatment in the 1970s as a substitute for LSD. However, the use of Ecstasy did not show any medical benefit. In 1976 in Canada and in 1986 in the United States, possessing, trafficking, importing and manufacturing MDMA became illegal.
Important messages
  • MDMA is one of the most popular designer drugs but its effects are underestimated.
  • The actual composition of a tablet sold as ecstasy is often uncertain. It may contain other substances, including methamphetamine.

Phencyclidine (PCP)

Phencyclidine (PCP)

  • Description: Powder, tablets, capsules.
  • Usual consumption methods: Snorted, ingested, injected, inhaled
  • Common names: Peace pill, Mess, TH, Angel dust, Elephant, Horse tranquilizer, Crystal, Rocket fuel
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, relaxation, sensation of floating and lightness, altered time, space and body perception, visual and auditory hallucinations.
  • Side effects: Anxiety, disorganized thinking, dizziness, numbness in the extremities, disorientation, confusion, intense feeling of alienation. In case of overdose: Precipitation of a latent psychotic episode, toxic psychosis, painful reaction to noise.
  • Type of dependence: Psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Dilated pupils, muscle stiffness, profuse sweating, self-injury, confusion, lack of motor coordination, slurred speech, paranoid delirium, panic attack, inappropriate, strange, hostile or violent behaviour, injection marks.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: Phencyclidine or PCP was developed in the 1950s as a general anesthetic for humans. Then, given the severe reactions produced by PCP in humans, it was used only in veterinary medicine. PCP appeared as a recreational drug in the form of tablets in the 1960s and 70s. It became illegal in Canada in 1970.
Important messages
  • Psychological dependence reported in some regular users.
  • Chronic use of phencyclidine can result in toxic psychosis leading to unexpected behaviour and extreme violence.

PMA and PMMA

PMA and PMMA

  • Description: Tablets of different shapes, colours and logos, capsules or powder.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested, snorted
  • Common names: Ecstasy, Death, Dr Death
  • Desired effects: Euphoria, heightening of emotions, feeling of sensuality and increased need to be intimate, altered sensual perceptions and pleasure.
  • Side effects: Hyperactivity, excessive stimulation, inability to remain seated (akathisia). In case of overdose: Hyperthermia, hypertension, convulsions, kidney failure, death.
  • Type of dependence: Unknown
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Visual hallucinations, delirium, dysphoria (feeling of being ill-at-ease), extreme agitation, disorientation, muscle stiffness, muscle contraction, convulsions.
  • Legal status: This drug is illegal. The drugs as well as the precursors used to produce them are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Offences range from simple possession to possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: PMA was first synthesized in the 1970s by the chemist Alexander Shulgin.
Important messages
  • PMA is a potent and very toxic hallucinogen. PMA is five times more potent than mescaline.
  • Hyperthermia is the main cause of death resulting from PMA abuse.
  • PMA and PMMA are often sold as Ecstasy.
  • Compared to MDMA, it takes longer to feel the effects of PMA and PMMA. As a result, the consumer is inclined to take more than one dose, which increases the risk of overdose.

Androgens and anabolic steroids

Androgens and anabolic steroids are part of a special category of psychotropic drugs, both of them having the same basic chemical structure. Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone, responsible for the production of sperm cells. Anabolic steroids promote the growth of cell tissues, particularly muscles.

BWhile rarely prescribed for therapeutic purposes, steroids are very popular in the world of sports to increase muscle mass, enhance performance and improve physical appearance. The benefits derived from using anabolic steroids for non-therapeutic purposes are fairly minimal compared with the many risks and sometimes irreversible damage that result from their abuse.

Androgens and anabolic steroids

Androgens and anabolic steroids

  • Description: Tablets, capsules, powder, oily liquid, cream or gel.
  • Usual consumption methods: Ingested, injected
  • Common names: Juice, Roids, Doping, Arnolds
  • Desired effects: Increased weight and muscle mass, increase muscle strength and physical endurance, increased motivation and aggressiveness during training, increased resistance to fatigue, quick recovery after training sessions.
  • Side effects: Masculinizing effects on women (atrophy of the breasts and uterus, menstrual irregularity, amenorrhea), feminizing effects on men (testicular atrophy, decreased testosterone production, decreased fertility, decreased libido, impotence), acne, joint injuries caused by repeated movement, cardiovascular and hepatic disorder, psychological disorder such as anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness, affective disorder, loss of perception of certain realities, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, depression, triggering of latent schizophrenia. In case of overdose: Abusive and uncontrolled anabolic steroid use causes changes and hormonal disorders affecting the psychological balance of consumers. These imbalances result in various and unpredictable abnormal behaviors.
  • Type of dependence: Physical and psychological dependence
  • Visible signs or symptoms: Injection marks, excessive body hair growth and deepening of the voice in women; acne and breast growth in men.
  • Legal status: The possession of these substances is legal. Offences related to these substances are included in Schedules I to VIII of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The Offences range from possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking, importing, exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting, and producing. All these offences are punishable by criminal sanctions.
  • History: The first synthetic anabolic steroids were developed around 1935-1939 for the purpose of reconstructing body mass and preventing the tearing of tissues caused by certain debilitating diseases. The first use of androgenic steroids in human was reported in 1939. They were given to German troops to increase their aggressiveness in battle. In 1940, American bodybuilders started using testosterone and its derivatives. Starting in 1968, steroids were used by weight lifters and later by short and mid-distance runners. The first urine tests for anabolic steroids were introduced in 1976 at the Montréal Olympics. The American Congress adopted the Anabolic Steroids Act in 1990, adding 27 anabolic steroids to the list of controlled substances. Canada followed suit and, today, anabolic substances are included in the Controlled Drugs and other Substances Act.
Important messages
  • Some masculinizing and feminizing effects resulting from long-term use are irreversible.
  • Anabolic steroids are often used simultaneously with other substances.
  • Anabolic steroids can be manufactured in clandestine laboratories which increase the risk of contamination and cause damage to health.

Awareness

Addiction

Drug abuse can lead to physical and/ or psychological dependence and have serious consequences on user health and safety, as well as social and judicial impacts.

Never mix drugs

Mixing different substances results in unforeseeable effects and an increased risk of intoxication that may pose serious health risks.

Scourge among young people

Designer drugs are sold at low prices in the form of pills in attractive shapes to lure customers, often young people for whom their use has become commonplace.

Prescription drug abuse

While prescription drugs are not illegal, prescription drug abuse is an increasing trend. There is a misconception that prescription drugs are safe but when they are misused, these drugs can lead to addiction and be just as harmful as illicit drugs.

Beware of Designer Drugs

Designer drugs are home-made drugs containing a mixture of chemical substances and are produced in clandestine laboratories by criminal organizations. They constantly change the appearance, name, colour and shape of the substances as well as the logos that appear on the substances and containers. Users have no idea what they are taking and in what amount.

Need help?

Drugs: Help and Referral - 1-800-265-2626

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