Drug Profiles

Street Drugs (Illicit)

Marijuana THCTHC (∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). When smoked or orally administered, THC produces euphoric effects. Users have impaired short term memory and slowed learning. They may also experience transient episodes of confusion and anxiety. Long-term, heavy use may be associated with behavioral disorders. The peak effect of marijuana administered by smoking usually occurs in 20-30 minutes and the duration is between approximately 90-120 minutes after one cigarette. Elevated levels of urinary metabolites are found within hours of exposure and remain detectable for between 3-10 days after smoking. The main metabolite excreted in the urine is 11-nor-∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (∆9-THC-COOH).

Slang Names: Grass, Reefer, Pot, Weed, Ganja, Cannabis, Dank, Bud, Mary Jane, Dope, Skunk, Smoke, Loco Weed , Hydro and Zig Zag.

Cocaine COCCocaine is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and a local anesthetic. Initially, it usually brings about extreme energy and restlessness while gradually resulting in tremors, over-sensitivity and spasms. In large amounts, cocaine may cause fever, unresponsiveness, difficulty in breathing and unconsciousness. Cocaine is often self-administered by nasal inhalation, intravenous injection and free-base smoking. It is excreted in the urine in a short time primarily as Benzoylecgonine. Benzoylecgonine, a major metabolite of cocaine, has a longer biological half-life (5-8 hours) than cocaine (0.5-1.5 hours), and can generally be detected for 24-48 hours after cocaine exposure.

Slang Names: Snow, Bump, Coke , Candy, Flake, Grank, Blow , Nose Nachos, Charlie, Hooter, Coca , Blizzard, Race Horse , Blast, Crack, Bazooka , Big C and Yeyo.

Opiates OPI (Opium & Heroin)Opium can cause euphoria, followed by a sense of well-being and a calm drowsiness or sedation. Breathing slows, potentially to the point of unconsciousness and death with large doses. Other effects can include nausea, confusion and constipation. Use of opium with other substaces that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or genral anesthetics, increases the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy.

Slang Names: Brown Sugar, Black Tar , Smack, China White, Courage Pill , Mud, Bomb, Chiva, Hard Candy, Gun Powder, Horse , and Skag.

Amphetamine AMP (Speed)Amphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance available by prescription and is also available on the illicit market. Amphetamines are a class of potent sympathomimetic agents with therapeutic applications. They are chemically related to the human body’s natural catecholamines: epinephrine and norepinephrine. Acute higher doses may lead to enhanced stimulation of the central nervous system and induce euphoria, alertness, reduced appetite, and a sense of increased energy and power. Cardiovascular responses to Amphetamines can include increased blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias. More acute responses may produce anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and psychotic behavior. The effects of Amphetamines generally last 2-4 hours following use and the drug has a half-life of 4-24 hours in the body. About 30% of Amphetamines are excreted in the urine in unchanged form, with the remainder as hydroxylated and deaminated derivatives.

Slang Names: Speed, Beans, Pep Pills, Bennies, Gagger, Poppers, Uppers, Dexes, Black Beauties and Hyper Pills.

Methamphetamine MET (Crystal)Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. Methamphetamine is closely related chemically to amphetamine, but the central nervous system effects of Methamphetamine are generally greater. Methamphetamine is made in illegal laboratories and has a high potential for abuse and dependence. The drug can be taken orally, injected, or inhaled. Acute higher doses may lead to enhanced stimulation of the central nervous system and induce euphoria, alertness, reduced appetite, and a sense of increased energy and power. Cardiovascular responses to Methamphetamine can include increased blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias. More acute responses produce anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, psychotic behavior, and eventually, depression and exhaustion. The effects of Methamphetamine generally last 2-4 hours and the drug has a half-life of 9-24 hours in the body. Methamphetamine is excreted in the urine as amphetamine and oxidised and deaminated derivatives. However, 10-20% of Methamphetamine is excreted unchanged. Thus, the presence of the parent compound in the urine indicates Methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine is generally detectable in the urine for 3-5 days, depending on urine pH level.

Slang Names:Meth, Crystal, Speed, Ice and Crank.

Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine MDMA (Ecstasy)Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy) is a designer drug first synthesised in 1914 by a German drug company for the treatment of obesity. Those who take the drug frequently report adverse effects, such as increased muscle tension and sweating. MDMA is not clearly a stimulant, although it has, in common with amphetamine drugs, a capacity to increase blood pressure and heart rate. MDMA can produce some perceptual changes in the form of increased sensitivity to light, difficulty in focusing, and blurred vision in some users. Its mechanism of action is thought to be via release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. MDMA may also release dopamine, although the general opinion is that this is a secondary effect of the drug (Nichols and Oberlender, 1990). The most pervasive effect of MDMA, occurring in nearly all people who took a reasonable dose of the drug, was to produce a clenching of the jaws.

Slang Names: Adam, Disco, E, XTC, X, Beans and Love Drug.

Prescription Drugs

Tricyclic TCA (Antidepressants)TCA (Tricyclic Antidepressants) are commonly used for the treatment of depressive disorders. TCA overdoses can result in profound central nervous system depression, cardiotoxicity and anticholinergic effects. TCA overdose is a common cause of death from prescription drugs. TCAs are taken orally or sometimes by injection. TCAs are metabolised in the liver. Both TCAs and their metabolites are excreted in urine mostly in the form of metabolites for up to ten days.
Barbiturates BARBarbiturates are central nervous system depressants. They are used therapeutically as sedatives, hypnotics, and anticonvulsants. Barbiturates are almost always taken orally as capsules or tablets. The effects resemble those of intoxication with alcohol. Chronic use of barbiturates leads to tolerance and physical dependence. Short acting Barbiturates taken at 400 mg/day for 2-3 months can produce a clinically significant degree of physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms experienced during periods of drug abstinence can be severe enough to cause death. Only a small amount (less than 5%) of most Barbiturates are excreted unaltered in the urine.

The approximate detection time limits for Barbiturates are:

  • Short acting (e.g. Secobarbital) 100 mg PO (oral) 4.5 days
  • Long acting (e.g. Phenobarbital) 400 mg PO (oral) 7 days

Slang Names: Barbs, Yellow Jackets, Pinks, Reds, Blues, Red Devils, Goof Balls, Blockbusters, Goof and Christmas Trees.

Benzodiazepines BZOBenzodiazepines are medications that are frequently prescribed for the symptomatic treatment of anxiety and sleep disorders. They produce their effects via specific receptors involving a neurochemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). Because they are safer and more effective, Benzodiazepines have replaced barbiturates in the treatment of both anxiety and insomnia. Benzodiazepines are also used as sedatives before some surgical and medical procedures, and for the treatment of seizure disorders and alcohol withdrawal. Risk of physical dependence increases if Benzodiazepines are taken regularly (e.g., daily) for more than a few months, especially at higher than normal doses. Stopping abruptly can bring on such symptoms as trouble sleeping, gastrointestinal upset, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, sweating, trembling, weakness, anxiety and changes in perception. Only trace amounts (less than 1%) of most Benzodiazepines are excreted unaltered in the urine. Most of the concentration in urine is conjugated drug. The detection period for the Benzodiazepines in the urine is 3-7 days.

Slang Names: Benzos, Downers, Tanks, Roofie and Roach.

Methadone MTDMethadone is a narcotic analgesic prescribed for the management of moderate to severe pain and for the treatment of opiate dependence (heroin, Vicodin, Percocet, Morphine). The pharmacology of Oral Methadone is very different from IV Methadone. Oral Methadone is partially stored in the liver for later use. IV Methadone acts more like heroin. Methadone is a long acting pain reliever producing effects that last from 12-48 hours. Ideally, Methadone frees the client from the pressures of obtaining illegal heroin, from the dangers of injection, and from the emotional roller coaster that most opiates produce. However, Methadone, if taken for long periods and at large doses, can lead to a very long withdrawal period. The withdrawals from Methadone are more prolonged and troublesome than those provoked by heroin cessation, yet the substitution and phased removal of methadone is an acceptable method of detoxification for patients and therapists.

Slang Names: Juice , Amidone, Green, Fizzies and Chocolate Chip Cookies.