Simple, accurate health tests for the home and the workplace.

A-Z of Drugs

Drugs are everywhere around us and most parents worry about their child becoming involved with drugs. Parents often feel they don’t know enough about drugs to help prevent their child from coming to harm.

We also offer a variety of drug and alcohol tests for the most common drugs. The tests are available with different testing strips so you can choose which drugs you want to test for.

Why do young people take drugs?

Most parents do not understand why children might want to take drugs and question themselves. They usually believe that because their child is using drugs or tried drugs that they must be having problems at school or home.

There are many reasons why a child may take drugs, perhaps they enjoy the short-term effects, their friends use them, curiosity or just as a part of growing up. They want to break the rules and think it will be fun, without realising the consequences.

What are the different types of drugs available?

A drug is basically something that changes the way you think or feel. Drugs include alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, prescription and illicit drugs.

Drugs can be divided into the following groups:-

Analgesics – drugs which kill pain e.g. heroin.
Depressants – drugs which slow everything down e.g. alcohol, gases, glues and aerosols.
Hallucinogens – drugs which act on the mind, altering the way the user sees and hears things e.g. cannabis, L.S.D. and magic mushrooms.
Stimulants – drugs which make everything seem as if they’re going faster e.g. cocaine, crack, ecstasy, poppers, speed and tobacco.

What are some of the risks of taking drugs?

All drugs carry risks and drugs affect different people in different ways but the major risks involved with taking illegal drugs are as follows : –

The user may never know exactly what it is they are taking. What is bought is unlikely to be pure and you can never be sure what it has been mixed with.
You can never be sure what effect a drug might have, even if it has been taken before.
If drugs are injected and shared around you are then at risk of catching a dangerous infection such as H.I.V. or hepatitis B and C.
If you mix different drugs this can be very dangerous and that includes mixing alcohol with a drug.
Women who take drugs may experience heavier periods and some women’s periods have been known to stop.

Drugs and the law

A major risk with drug taking is that you could end up with a criminal record, which may seriously affect your future, for example job prospects.

A first offender who is caught in possession of an illegal drug and has admitted that he/she has committed a criminal offence, may receive a formal warning or caution from the police.

If found in possession (being caught with an illegal drug for your own use) of a class A drug (e.g. cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, L.S.D.) there is a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison and/or a fine. However, possession with intent to supply has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and/or a fine.

If found in possession of a class B drug (e.g. amphetamines) you may face a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine. If caught in possession with intent to supply (which can include giving and sharing drugs) it’s a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine.

If you have a drugs record obtaining a visa to travel to some Countries may become difficult or even denied.

Drugs in the workplace

Drug and alcohol abuse are significant social problems, they also play a massive part in the workplace. According to the government’s General Lifestyle Survey 2011, 10.8 million adults drink at levels that pose a risk to their health. Up to 45% of young workers (aged 16-29) and 40% of workers under 40 have experimented with illegal drugs. A survey by DrugScope and Alcohol Concern found that:

  • 27% of employers say drug misuse is a problem at work.
  • 60% have experienced problems due to staff drinking alcohol.

According to the findings of the 2014 crime survey for England and Wales, 8.8% of the working age population has taken an illicit drug in the past year. Research has suggested that the actual use of illegal drugs while at work is very low.

Research gathered from people in employment attending accident and emergency (A&E) departments in Wales (printed in the BMA 2017). A total of 4,620 people completed the community survey of which;

  • 38 per cent reported ever having used drugs,
  • 13 per cent reported using drugs in the last year
  • 7% in the last month

Cannabis was the most reported drug used in the last year (11%), followed by ecstasy (2.5%), amphetamines (2.3%), and cocaine (2.2%)

However, the use of prescription drugs at work is much more common. An estimated 1.5 million people are addicted to prescription and over-the-counter drugs in the UK, while many others use them occasionally. Many of these drugs can have a significant effect on performance, concentration or alertness.

What can I do if something goes wrong?

Sometimes drugs can make people very drowsy or even unconscious, people sometimes take drugs that make them panicky and as a result may start to hyperventilate, feel sick and dizzy. If taking ecstasy or speed there is a risk of overheating and dehydration.

If you see someone who is drowsy or unconscious : –

Make sure they have plenty of cool, fresh air.
Do not frighten or startle them.
Do not throw water over them.
Turn them on their side and put them in the recovery position (on their side).
Phone 999 (U.K.) immediately, if symptoms persist or they become unconscious. Make sure you tell the ambulance crew that you believe drugs have been taken. If possible give the drugs to them.

If someone is getting panicky and breathing rapidly: –

Try to calm them down.
Help them to breathe slowly and deeply by counting each breath slowly in and out with them.
Keep them away from loud noises and bright lights, if in a club get them outside.
Do not give them anything to eat or drink except small sips of water.
Talk quietly and keep telling them the panicky feeling will go away and that they will be okay.

Drug abuse facts and figures in Britain

  • 7,376 hospital admissions for drug related mental and behavioural disorders
  • 14% less than 3 years ago in 2015/16 (8,621), but still 30% higher than in 2008/09 (5,668)
  • Admissions were around 6 times more likely in the most deprived areas, compared to the least deprived areas
  • 18,053 hospital admissions for poisoning by drug misuse
  • A 6% increase on 2017/18, and 16% higher than in 2012/13 (15,580)
  • Admissions were around 5 times more likely in the most deprived areas, compared to the least deprived areas
  • 2,917 deaths related to poisoning by drug misuse
  • A 17% increase on 2017 (2,503), and 46% higher than ten years ago in 2008 (2,004)
  • 9.4% adults (16 to 59) had taken an illicit drug in the last year
  • 20.3% of young adults (16-24) had taken an illicit drug in the last year

Key facts cover the latest year of data available:

  • Hospital admissions – 2018/19
  • Deaths (England & Wales) – 2018
  • Adult drug use (England & Wales) – 2018/19

NHS Digital Statistics on Drug Misuse: England, 2019