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Other Risks

.::: A-Z List of Harmful Substances

Anabolic Steroids (roids, juice, pumpers, stackers)

Discover "The HOT 3": everyday substances to watch for"

Many teens — boys in particular — want to fill out, buff up and strengthen muscles. Sometimes they turn to anabolic steroids.

These illegal substances are synthetic hormones that mimic the male sex hormone testosterone. They can build muscle, strength and endurance, but they don't improve skill.

Anabolic steroids can cause boys to become more feminine looking, with increased breast size, testicle shrinkage and baldness; girls become more masculine looking with smaller breasts, deepened voices and more, thicker body hair.

A-Z List of Harmful Substances

The negative side effects of anabolic steroids can range from severe acne, mood swings and violent behaviour to stunted growth, heart attack and stroke.

Encourage your kids to talk to qualified doctors, coaches and school staff for reliable information on healthy ways to stay fit and build muscle and endurance without turning to steroids.


Club Drugs

Some drugs are used more at parties and clubs. These types of drugs provide energy to party all night long or enhance the sounds and lights of the party. Ecstasy, GHB and Crystal Meth are all club drugs.


Cocaine (snow, nose candy, blow, charlie) and Crack Cocaine (rock, crack, base)

Cocaine and crack are made from the same plant.

Both are highly addictive — so addictive that a person can get hooked from the very first use. (This doesn't happen to everyone, but there is no way to tell who will get addicted quickly and who won't.)

Cocaine is a white powder that is usually snorted up the nose, but can also be injected. Cocaine is always mixed or "cut" with other white substances like baby powder, laundry detergent or rat poison, partly because pure cocaine can kill a person and partly so dealers make more money.

Crack has been heated or "cooked". It looks like a small grayish-white pebble or "rock." Crack is usually smoked, sometimes through a pop can or a homemade pipe. It can also be injected or crack fumes can be inhaled.

Cocaine and crack speed things up. Users tend to get extremely "hyper" and "wired." When the drug wears off, a user will "crash" feel wiped out and exhausted. The high from crack is shorter and more intense than cocaine.

Cocaine can be extremely expensive. Often users who get addicted lose everything – their jobs, house and families.


Crystal Methamphetamine (meth, crystal, ice, glass, jib, tina)

Crystal meth is made from a mixture of chemicals from cold medicines and poisonous substances like acetone, antifreeze and battery acid – things we'd never think of putting into our bodies.

Like cocaine and crack, meth speeds the body up, making users extremely "hyper" or "wired." Crystal methamphetamine is addictive – sometimes instantly — and very hard for users to quit.

Crystal methamphetamine causes "meth mouth" (rotting teeth and gums) and other extreme physical changes. Over time, meth controls users' lives, so much so that they often stop eating, sleeping or taking care of personal hygiene.


Ecstasy (X, E, MDMA, XTC)

Ecstasy comes in all kinds of colours and shapes and often has a design imprinted on the pill. It can also be a loose powder or capsule.

A-Z List of Harmful SubstancesEcstasy speeds up the body so users can "party all night long." Many users also hallucinate.

Ecstasy rises the body temperature, causing users to become dehydrated, hot and thirsty. A person on ecstasy needs lots of water, particularly if he or she is dancing and being active. Drinking alcohol with ecstasy makes it even more dehydrating.

Ecstasy users can build up a tolerance. Over time they have to take higher amounts of the drug to get the same effect, increasing the danger of harmful health effects.


GHB (G, Liquid X)

GHB makes users feel relaxed; that everything is "okay with the world." Some people willingly use GHB, but it can also be slipped into drinks as a rape drug.

GHB is usually a clear liquid often stored in a water bottle. It can cause sleepiness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting and can lead to seizures; a drop in blood pressure, heart rate or breathing; and even death.



Drugs like LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and mescaline cause people to hallucinate – to see, hear or feel things that aren't real.

Short-term side effects include tremors, nervousness and problems with memory; long term effects include flashbacks and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.


Herbs and plants

Many herbs and plants contain chemicals that cause drug-like reactions.

From morning glory seeds to nutmeg and mace, substances in your spice drawer or garden can cause drug-like effects. Make sure your kids know that harmful herbs and plants aren't always illegal and misusing them can cause dangerous effects.


Heroin (junk, H, smack, horse)

Heroin is an extremely dangerous and addictive illegal drug. It enters the brain quickly, takes away physical and emotional pain and produces a feeling of well-being.

Heroin also causes extreme changes to mood and behaviour. Users become mellow and docile after taking the drug, then irritable and aggressive during withdrawal.

Heroin is sold in different forms: a white powder, a brown grainy substance or a dark brown sticky gum. It can be injected, snorted, inhaled or smoked.


High-energy drinks

High-energy drinks look like pop or sports drinks. Red Bull ®, Rockstar® and Full Throttle® are popular brands.

Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and herbal supplements. Users feel awake and full of energy, then "crash" when the effect of the caffeine wears off.

While a reasonable amount of caffeine is safe, heavy caffeine use over time can:

  • Affect how long and how well you sleep. Heavy caffeine users often can't sleep because the nervous system is over-stimulated.
  • Cause "caffeine nerves'": a jittery feeling with shaking hands, heart palpitations, and wobbliness in the legs.
  • Result in caffeine addiction with symptoms such as nervousness, irritability, agitation, headaches or ringing in the ears.

High energy drinks combined with alcohol can be especially dangerous. Caffeine can mask the effect of the alcohol, so a user might not feel drunk. This can lead to risky behaviours such as drinking and driving and unsafe sex.

Click here to see the other Hot 3 drugs.



Some consumer products with chemical solvents, vapours or gases — such as gasoline, hairspray, permanent markers and paint thinners — aren't always used the way they should be.

Some kids pour these products — known as "inhalants" — into a plastic bag (or onto a rag) then breathe in the fumes to get high.

A-Z List of Harmful Substances

While Grade 8 kids use inhalants the most, inhalant use can start at a much earlier age.

Inhalants are very dangerous. The high they produce lasts only a few minutes, but they can cause brain damage, addiction and even death.

Many inhalants are easy for kids to find at home. Tell your kids that these products should be used only as directed. If they're used in any other way, they can cause serious injury or even death.


Ketamine (K, Ket, Special K, Vitamin K)

Intended as an anaesthetic for animals, ketamine is mainly used as a rape drug. But sometimes users take it intentionally.

Special K usually comes in the form of a white powder. It can cause a variety of strong reactions, such as confusion, blackouts, powerful hallucinations and near-death experiences.

Some K users experience a "k-hole": a period of time when they can't see or hear others. Using ketamine with other drugs, including alcohol, increases the risk of overdose or death.


KHAT (pronounced 'cot')

Khat is usually ingested by chewing on the leaves. It produces a feeling of energy, alertness and euphoria.


LSD (acid, blotter, windowpane, microdot)

Commonly known as a drug of the 60's and 70's. It usually comes in the form of a pill or as a tiny piece of paper, often with cartoon characters or designs.

LSD causes hallucinations so people see, hear or feel things that are very distorted or aren't real.


Opioids (Percs, Oxy, Morph)

The opioid group includes drugs that are made from the opium poppy or synthetically made to be chemically similar. While illegal drugs such as heroin and poppy powder fit into this category, so do prescription pain killers like Tylenol® with Codeine, oxyNeo® and Perocet®.

These types of drugs take the sense of feeling away, producing a high, euphoric feeling and are very addictive.

Opioids are extremely addictive. Non-medical (non-prescribed) opioids are now the third most used group of drugs by teens in Ontario. They are usually stolen out of medicine cabinets – from their own homes, grand-parents, parents of a friend.

Keep these drugs out of your childs' reach. Store them in a safe, hard-to-get-to place other than your bathroom and return unused painkillers to your pharmacy or closest Region of Peel Community Recycling Centre for disposal.


Poppy Powder (poppy pods, Dode)

Poppy Powder is ground from poppy husks, the same type of plant used to make heroin and strong pain killers.

Illegal and extremely addictive, poppy powder is said to keep users awake or helps make them focus on a particular task. The GTA is seeing rise in the use of poppy powder among young people, especially in the Punjabi community.


Psilocybin (shrooms, magic mushrooms, fungus)

Psilocybin is a hallucinogen found in certain mushrooms. It causes similar effects to LSD.

Shrooms can be raw or dry. They are usually eaten or steeped to make a "tea", but are also snorted or sniffed.


Rape Drugs

Alcohol is the original and most common rape drug.

A variety of other drugs can be slipped into drinks. They come in liquid form or as tablets that dissolve very quickly. Both forms are very difficult or even impossible to detect.

GHB, Rohypnol and ketamine are all used as rape drugs. They cause effects like unexplained sleepiness, loss of coordination, dizziness, and blackouts.

Taking precautions and being aware of your surroundings can help reduce the risk of falling victim to a rape drug.

Make sure your teen is aware of rape drugs and follows these precautions at parties, proms, dances and other special events:

  • Never leave a drink. If you do leave a drink unattended, don't take another sip.
  • Party with people you know and trust. Watch out for each other.
  • Get your own drink from a server you trust.
  • Avoid going to parties/bars alone.
  • Eat before you start drinking alcohol and pace your drinking. Alcohol absorption is slowed (but not stopped) by a full stomach.
  • Talk to your friends: discuss what you'll do if you think someone's drink has been drugged (spiked).


Tobacco (smokes, cigs)

Many adults are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes.

Nicotine is an extremely addictive drug, and once kids start smoking, they find it really had to quit.

For more information on tobacco – click here.


Salvia (magic mint, sally D)

Salvia is relatively new-on-the-scene, easy to get and 'big' with some teens right now.

Often sold as incense, salvia is usually smoked. It causes dream-like effects and hallucinations; in fact, many kids report horrible experiences and say they'd never use it again.

While salvia isn't technically illegal in Canada, Health Canada has banned the sale or use of salvia without its permission.



CAMH: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Parents: the Anti-Drug
National Anti-Drug strategy


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Revised: April 22, 2016


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