Most common substances have been included here, however this is not meant to be a complete list.
Alcohol aka beer, wine, liquor, coolers, aperitifs, booze, sauce etc
“I often drink at work. When I'm feeling sore, stiff and cranky, a few glasses of wine keep me feeling limber and content on stage. I try not to drink too much however, as doing so only makes me feel tired the following day.”
“Booze and dope keep me warm in the cold.”
“I consume alcohol at work, but not to excess. It helps keep me relaxed and uninhibited.”
“I can’t think straight and level minded when I am drunk or high.”
Looks like: Alcohol is the primary ingredient in beer, wine, spirits, mouthwash, perfume etc. Alcohol is a drug that is legal to buy and consume by adults and is considered socially acceptable – but not totally different from illegal drugs.
What are the effects? When drank in moderation, alcohol relaxes people and lowers inhibitions. In larger quantities, it makes drinkers less careful and reduces self-control.
Is it addictive? Alcohol is a depressant and is considered highly addictive. With heavy use, there are high risks for both psychological and physical addiction. Long term use can damage your liver, brain and other vital organs. It can even trigger and/or accelerate severe mental health problems.
Possible risks? With excessive use, drinkers can become anxious and depressed, with reduced intellectual capacity and libido. Once addiction sets in, the risks multiply, often resulting in liver damage up to and including cirrhosis, hepatitis and delirium. Alcohol is a drug. Therefore, consuming large amounts in a short period of time can lead to overdose and death.
Cannabis aka marijuana, hashish, pot, weed, joints, chronic, tar, reefer, grass, ganja, hash, oil, resin etc.
“I do occasionally have a drink or two, or smoke some marijuana. They have a negligible effect on my performance as I never consume in excess.”
“I smoke pot before every appointment. It relaxes me, helps with my nerves. I also will drink if it is offered by a client.”
Looks like/how to: Pot can look like dried leaves, stems and flowers that are most often smoked in either rolled joints or through pipes and bongs. Hash comes in the form of brown, black or yellowish chunks that are smoked in similar ways as pot. Small pieces of hash can also be placed between two ‘hot knives’ and smoked. Both pot and hash can also be heated and turned into oil that can then be smoked by spreading it on a rolling paper and adding weed. You can also cook pot leaves/hashish oil in baked goods such as brownies and cookies.
What are the effects? It relaxes you and lowers your inhibitions after just a few puffs/hits. After use, some people will get chatty but others remain quiet. Your senses are heightened /enhanced and ordinary things will tend to take on special meaning. It is hugely popular – the most widely used illegal drug in North America. People usually experience sensations of well-being, satisfaction and calm. There are also many people who are prescribed marijuana by their doctors for medicinal purposes that can include temporary relief of major stress/anxiety, increase appetite as pot tends to give people the ‘munchies,’ as well as being an effective mild painkiller. Many folks who have Cancer or HIV+/AIDS related diseases use marijuana for these therapeutic purposes.
Is it addictive: Pot is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. Its effects are easily controlled and there is usually no hangover effect after use. People who are chronic pot smokers can in some cases develop a moderate psychological dependency to the drug, however, users rarely become physically addicted.
Possible risks? Smoking regularly can lead to a loss of motivation. It can also become difficult to perform various tasks. With strong doses, time perception and short-term memory can be affected. Like cigarette smoke, pot smoke can affect the lungs. For predisposed users, regular pot smoking can lead to psychosis. Some people get confused/disoriented and anxious when using marijuana and may even have mild auditory and visual hallucinations. Combining marijuana with other drugs such as alcohol will intensify the effects of both in your body.
Cocaine aka coke, blow, rock, white, flake, snow, nose candy etc.
“Coke prevents clients from getting boners. It is frustrating if they want a release and there is nothing you can do to help them. I recommend keeping coke away from the work place.”
“I have used coke a couple times at work, but it dries me up for the squirting shows. So it ruins my work in that sense, so I keep away from it.”
Looks like/how to: Cocaine is typically a fine white powder and is often cut with other powders to dilute/stretch it. Sniffing is the safest way to use cocaine but it is also rolled into joints/cigarettes in it’s powdered form and smoked (coco puff). People also will dilute the powder form of cocaine in syringes and inject it into their veins (IV).
What are the effects? Cocaine is a stimulant with effects similar to that of Crystal meth but with a much shorter high, typically lasting less than an hour. People tend to become more alert and have a heightened sense of esteem and confidence. Usually, people using cocaine will experience increased physical energy with faster heartbeats and warmer body temperatures. People who use cocaine typically achieve a sense of euphoria, as well as feelings of intellectual and physical strength. Cocaine can suppress feelings of fatigue, pain, and inhibitions. Sexual appetite may increase but concentration and interest can be sporadic and fleeting, depending on the amount and frequency of use.
Is it addictive? Coke and Crack are highly addictive. Regular use of cocaine can lead to strong psychological dependence.
Crack Puff, rock, freebase
Cocaine can be cooked into crystals called crack/rock. When smoked, it gives people a very short and intense high (typically called the ringer or buzz).
Possible risks? If you use cocaine in quantity, tolerance will increase and high doses and/or prolonged use cause overdoses and can lead to serious heart conditions, possibly even attacks (snorting and/or smoking). Regular use can lead to paranoia, hallucinations, and psychosis. Heavy use cuts the appetite and reduces sexual performance. Other risks include perforation of the nasal passages, breathing, and heart problems. People who become addicted to cocaine often experience suicidal thoughts and violent behaviour. For both coke and crack, the low that follows the high is psychologically very difficult to handle.
Ecstasy aka E, X.
Looks like/how to: Ecstasy usually comes in a tablet form. E is often white in colour but may also come in a multitude of colours, shapes and sizes and may have stamps and pictures on the actual pills. Often, ecstasy is cut with other drugs such as methamphetamine, ketamine and PCP, which will prolong the high and alter the state and mood.
What are the effects: E can be swallowed or ‘hooped’ (inserted in the anus and absorbed through the fleshy membrane of the rectum – this is the most intense rush as it enters the blood stream at a much faster rate). Ecstasy usually takes around 20-40 minutes to have an effect in the body. A side affect of the high can be mild nausea until the body settles in to the buzz. Ecstasy is very popular when used for sexual activity because all bodily sensations are extremely enhanced. Even auditory and visual perceptions are heightened, such as the vibe and rhythm of music. Sensations of understanding, relating and accepting others is also enhanced, and at times it feels like one big ‘love in.’
Is it addictive? Addiction is rare. However, tolerance grows quickly which leads users to take larger doses. While E is not physically addictive, if you take it regularly, it loses it’s appeal and often times, people search for other drugs in order to achieve that first sensation and high which can lead to other more serious addictions.
Possible risks: Some longer-term effects from use can be serious crashes after use and prolonged depression. Memory can be impaired as well as concentration and behaviour can become more abrupt, impatient, and even hostile. Essentially, all inhibitions are either lowered or simply drop away completely, which can be extremely stimulating. However, this can be potentially harmful and dangerous if experienced in the wrong atmosphere or environment (sex partners or clients that you don’t know and trust). E is a dangerous drug to take because it is difficult to always know for sure what your taking and what it is mixed with – for example PCP is very dangerous if taken in certain quantities.
N-benzylpiperazine aka BZP, legal E, legal X: In the last few years, BZP has gained increased popularity with club kids as a mimic/alternative drug for ecstasy. Originally used as a deworming treatment for cattle, it is now popular on the club circuit because of its euphoric amphetamine high. BZP use comes with great risk of high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, delusions, hallucinations, insomnia, and paranoia.
Ketamine aka K, Special K, vitamin K etc.
Looks like/how to: K comes in white powder, pills, capsules, crystals or liquid solution, all of which can be to swallowed, injected, snorted (bumped), or smoked. Ketamine is a pharmaceutical grade human and veterinarian anaesthetic.
What are the effects? It takes effect within a few minutes and can last up to an hour after one bump or line. When taken, it gives people a warm-and-fuzzy, dreamy sensation. Some people experience feelings of floating outside their own bodies and overall physical numbness is a common occurrence. The effects are less intense than those of PCP, and last about an hour. Ketamine is often taken with stimulants.
Is it addictive? Regular use can lead to physical and psychological addiction and dependency.
Possible risks: Low doses increase heart rate while prolonged use can trigger or enhance mental health dysfunction. High doses of Ketamine can lead to what is commonly referred to as a ‘K-Hole” (essentially an overdose). This can be a terrifying experience as it feels like you are totally immobilized. People who have experienced this overdose often compare it to a near death experience. Higher doses have also been known to cause loss of consciousness, with vomiting, anxiety, panic, psychosis and temporary paralysis.
Crystal meth (methamphetamine) aka speed, ice, crystal, ice, tina, crank, tweak, glass, poor man’s drug.
Looks like/how to: Amphetamines come in all shapes and sizes of pills that can be swallowed or powder and crystals to be snorted, smoked or injected. Typical ingredients of meth include heavy toxic substances such as Ammonia or solvent, lithium battery acid, and possible household cleaning products such as Draino.
What are the effects: Meth gives users a strong sensation of euphoria and well-being as well as temporary heightened states of confidence and self esteem that can lead to impressions of being invincible. The effects of crystal last longer than cocaine (up to 12 hrs at a time). Prolonged use of meth may lead to obsessive compulsive behaviour and a heightened sexual arousal state. Lowered inhibitions can lead to marathon sexual activities often in the absence of common sense and protection.
Is it addictive? People who use crystal meth run the risk of becoming addicted extremely quickly. It is almost impossible to use this drug safely, as recreation and prolonged use of meth can create a serious psychological dependence that brings with it heavy paranoia and psychosis (auditory/visual hallucinations).
Possible risks: Regular meth use cuts people’s appetite and intake of fluids that can cause serious malnutrition and dehydration in the body. Heavy use can result in slower thinking, anxiety and depression, as well as nervousness, trembling, fatigue and serious skin problems. Crystal meth is extremely corrosive, infecting gums and destroying teeth. Long-term use can seriously weaken the immune system. People should especially avoid meth if they suffer from depression or other mental health issues, have heart problems, or are prone to asthma and epilepsy.
Benzodiazepines aka Benzos, Ativan, Dalmane, Lectopam, Mogadon, Restoril, Rivotril, Rohypnol, Serax, Tranxene, Valium, Versed, Xanax, etc.
Looks like/how to: Typically, Benzos come in pill form and may come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. Usually they are taken orally (swallowed) but some people will crush them up and inject them through a syringe.
What are the effects: Benzos are depressants or ‘downers’ and commonly come in the form of sedatives, sleeping pills and tranquillizers that are medically prescribed by doctors for relaxation, relief from anxieties, and to help people with more regular sleeping patterns. Prescription drugs are often bought and sold on the street and when taken along with other depressants such as alcohol and heroin, are used to calm or reduce the effects of stimulant or ‘upper’ drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine.
Heroin aka smack, H, skag, junk, down etc
“Heroin equals happy and it numbs my anxiety so I can work.”
“I was always high but wouldn’t consume drugs with my clients. There were numerous times where this impacted my work as I was “on the nod” (unable to stay awake due to heroin use) or agitated due to cocaine use.”
Looks like/how to: Heroin usually comes in a white, beige, or brown powder form that can be snorted, smoked on foil wrap (chasing the dragon) or injected through a syringe.
What are the effects: Heroin is a depressant or ‘downer’ drug that gives users an intense sense of euphoria, ecstasy and calmness. Typically, heroin users are trying to mask or avoid feeling physical and emotional pain, opting instead for the numbness and intense pleasure that a heroin high can provide. People use heroin during sex work to get rid of the pain associated with getting penetrated anally, vaginally, and orally on such a frequent basis.
Is it addictive? Experimenting with powerful drugs like heroin can quickly lead to strong physical dependence. Cravings are very unpleasant and withdrawal from heroin (down sickness) can include intense muscle and bone pain, feelings of agitation and anxiety, and symptoms similar to those of a severe flu, along with diarrhea and insomnia.
Possible risks: After the first few weeks, heroin users feel the need to take greater amounts and to use more and more frequently to reach the same high they got at first. Using starts to take up more and more time and space. Other problems may also appear, including drowsiness and anorexia.
Methadone aka Juice
Looks like/how to: Typically, medically prescribed methadone comes in a liquid form that is taken orally in controlled doses depending on individual necessity (as determined by a doctor). Methadone also comes in a powder form that can be taken orally in a capsule or pill
What are the effects: Though it doesn’t produce a high for heroin users, in sufficient doses, it kills their cravings as part of withdrawal treatment.
Is it addictive? Methadone is often used in the short term to medically treat withdrawal and in the long term as a substitution treatment for heroin addicts. Withdrawal needs to be done gradually over a long period of time. Users can become highly addicted both physically and psychologically, especially when the prescription or other use lasts more than 4 to 6 weeks. Addiction is more likely when these drugs are combined with alcohol.
Possible risks: If you use this drug without a prescription, be very careful about dosage. Methadone can be fatal for non-heroin users. Heavy use can effect memory and make someone who is a regular user much less attentive and aware.
Narcotics I.E painkillers, opium, codeine, heroin, morphine (Ms-Contin), methadone, percodan, demerol, dilaudid, etc.
Looks like/how to: Narcotic drugs usually come in pill form of various shapes, sizes and colours that are typically taken orally (swallowed). Some narcotics come in liquid form and may be contained in ampules (glass vials) that are injected through a syringe. Some users will use suppositories and ingest narcotics anally, which intensifies the effect of the high because the drug is absorbed into the fleshy membrane of the anus and enters directly into the blood stream. Opium in its purest form is a dark brown resin that can be smoked or eaten.
What are the effects: Certain narcotic analgesics are opiates (opium, morphine, heroin and codeine), while others are synthetic products. Often used as painkillers, they relax and can create a state of euphoria and lethargy. Effects are less intense when the drugs are taken orally.
Is it addictive? People who use narcotics will develop a tolerance for these drugs and in order to stay effective, they need to be taken in increasingly higher doses. They also create physical and psychological addiction.
Possible risks: People who take narcotics either medically prescribed or other for long periods of time will often suffer from vision problems, vertigo, nausea, vomiting, intestinal trouble, and loss of appetite. In heavy doses, they reduce sexual desire and can cause liver problems and respiratory arrest. It can be fatal to mix narcotics with benzodiazepines and/or with alcohol. Mixing methadone and benzodiazepines or heroin is particularly dangerous as well.
GHB aka GH, liquid ecstasy, liquid X, fantasy, scoop, date-rape drug etc.
Looks like/how to: GHB typically comes in a clear and odorless, thick (syrupy) liquid or as a white powder (perhaps gel caps) that is dissolved in water.
What are the effects: In small doses, GHB reduces anxiety, diminishes sexual inhibitions, and creates euphoria. When mixed with alcohol, it can quickly lead to loss of consciousness for up to 12 hours. Afterward, users have no memory of what happened while they were drugged.
Is it addictive? Prolonged use of GHB can create physical dependence in users.
Possible risks: In high doses, GHB can cause convulsions, hallucinations, slowed heartbeat, respiratory depression, and loss of consciousness. It can also cause delirium. Many people have been known to mix GHB in someones drink without their knowledge or consent for the purpose of committing rape and/or robbery – hence the nickname DATE RAPE DRUG. Never leave your drink unattended.
Poppers aka jungle juice, z-best, jet fuel, rush etc.
Looks like/how to: Poppers are typically sold in small clear or brown glass bottles and come in a clear liquid form. The vapours are inhaled through the nose and/or mouth.
What are the effects: The rush of poppers comes on in seconds and can last for up to 2 or 3 minutes. Poppers give the user sensations of euphoria, internal warmth, and sensuality. It can also create muscular relaxation that can facilitate easier anal penetration.
Is it addictive? Regular use of poppers can create psychological dependence.
Possible risks: Regular use can create a yellowish crust around the nose and lips, lesions on the nasal septum, distorted perceptions, and anemia. In heavy doses, it can cause violent vertigo, fainting and respiratory depression. Poppers should never be taken with Viagra as the combination can accelerate the heart rate fast enough to have a heart attack.
Solvents aka glue, gas, nitrite etc
Looks like/how to: Solvents are contained in common household products such as glue, varnish, paint, thinners, as well as gas and domestic or industrial products whose vapours are inhaled.
What are the effects: These drugs produce euphoria, intense fantasies, hallucinations and dizziness, and make users lose touch with reality.
What are its risks? Users become addicted. They slow down the body’s functions, including breathing. Abuse can cause brain damage and physical and psychological problems, and can lead to asphyxiation and death.
LSD aka Blotter, acid, tab etc
Looks like/how to: Typically comes in the form of paper soaked with a drop of LSD, or tablets and microdots that look like the end of a pencil lead. These tiny pieces of paper of dots come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours and are typically named after their appearances I.E red microdots.
What are the effects: An LSD or “Acid” trip lasts anywhere between 5 and 12 hours, and can cause hallucinations (auditory and visual), giggle fits, and delirium.
Is it addictive? Use of LSD does not create a physical dependence, and psychological addiction is rare.
Possible risks: With heavy use, people who are predisposed to mental health problems run the risk of suffering from chronic anxiety, depression and the inability to distinguish between reality and illusion. LSD is generally considered nontoxic, although it may temporarily impair the ability to make sensible judgments and understand common dangers, thus making the user more susceptible to accidents and personal injury. In cases where users experience an altered state of reality, they may have an impulse to wander, and may not be aware of his or her actions, which can lead to physical injury. Sometimes a bad trip will occur—an uncontrollable feeling of panic and anxiety. If this happens, avoid alcohol, don’t stay alone, and make sure you’re in calm surroundings.
Magic mushrooms aka mush, mushrooms, shrooms etc
Looks like/how to: Mushrooms come in dried plant/fungi form with caps and stems that are beige in colour and dark brown or black at the root and tip. They are ingested orally (eaten) and can also be boiled and drank as a type of mushroom tea.
What are the effects: They typically begin to take affect within an hour and can last for about 3 to 6 hours in total. Users experience hallucinations (auditory and visual) and may also feel the urge to laugh and giggle uncontrollably. The effects are not as strong as those of LSD.
Is it addictive? Mushrooms are not known to create physical or psychological dependence although they do create short-term increases in tolerance of users.
Possible risks: As with any naturally occurring plant or extract, mushrooms can be poisonous and cause serious health risks if taken in large quantities. Oral ingestion can sometimes produce nausea, dizziness, and (more rarely) vomiting (usually at higher doses). The greatest danger from recreational use is a “ bad trip” which can cause severe emotional and psychological distress.
PCP aka mess, mescaline, angel dust, peace pill, fairy dust, crystal etc
Looks like/how to: PCP comes in powders, pills and capsules of various colours, shapes and sizes. Please note that PCP is often mixed with other drugs, such as ecstasy, ketamine, mescaline, cannabis, methamphetamine and cocaine.
What are the effects: For about 4 to 6 hours, PCP can cause euphoria, hallucinations and reduces sensation of pain.
Is it addictive? PCP users often become psychologically addicted, but there is no physical dependence.
Possible risks: Heavy, long term use of PCP can trigger and/or exasperate any predisposed mental health problems that people may have. Users may also be at risk of experiencing intellectual, psychological and psychiatric problems with continued and prolonged use of PCP. People who have a history of mental health issues I.E depression, should avoid the use of PCP.