Drug misuse is very harmful to your health. Drug misuse includes using or taking legal and/or illegal drugs. If you have concerns about drugs, for yourself or somebody else, there are details of services that can help on this page.

Drugs can have very different effects on your body and brain - these effects can be different for different people, and can be longlasting and harmful.

Illegal drugs

Some of the most common illegal drugs are shown in the table below. The website Talk to Frank also has an A-Z Guide. Drugs can be addictive and expensive. This can affect your work, relationships and future. If you are found with drugs you could get a large fine and a prison sentence.

ClassDrugPossessionSupply & Production
ACrack Cocaine, Cocaine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Heroin, LSD, Magic Mushrooms, Methadone, Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth)Up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.Up to life in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
BAmphetamines, Barbiturates, Cannabis, Codeine, Methylphenidate (Ritalin), Synthetic Cannabinoids (e.g. Mephedrone, Methoxetamine)Up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
CAnabolic Steroids, Benzodiazepines (Diazepam), Gamme Hydroxbutyrate (GHB), Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL), Ketamine, Piperazines (BZP)Up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
TemporaryNone*None, but the police can take away a suspected temporary class drug.Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

These drugs are often referred to as 'Synthetic Highs' or ‘Legal Highs’. We refer to these drugs as 'new psychoactive substances' or ‘synthetic highs’ instead of 'legal highs' because it is illegal to sell, supply or advertise them for human consumption. Calling them 'legal highs' is misleading; these drugs have simply still to go through the legal process to ban them. This process takes a long time, and new drugs are appearing all the time.

These drugs are manufactured to mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cannabis or ecstasy. You may have heard some brand names like ‘MaryJoy Pink’ or ‘Annihilation’. They are often found to contain illegal substances and they can be very dangerous. Due to their harmful effects on the body the laws around them are under review. Any unknown substance which is confiscated by Police will be tested to see what it contains.

When buying any substance on the street or on the internet, you cannot be sure what it contains. The people who create synthetic highs are continually changing their formulas to evade the law. This makes the drugs more dangerous for two reasons:

  1. An individual could have two very different reactions to two batches of what they believe to be the same drug. Similarly two different people could have different reactions to the same drug.
  2. Medical staff have very limited knowledge of these drugs due to the constant changes in the way they are made, this makes it more difficult to treat when someone takes a bad reaction to them. The long term effects of synthetic highs on the body and brain are not currently known.

If someone is having a reaction to synthetic highs they should be taken to A&E immediately. Their life may depend on it. You can help by making sure that A&E staff see the packet the drugs came from.

You can also help by telling A&E staff what type of effect you were trying to achieve with this drug.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are usually very safe to take if you follow your doctor’s instructions and take the recommended dosage. If you ignore this and take enough to get a ‘high’, prescription drugs can be as dangerous as illegal drugs.

Like illegal drugs, when you buy prescription drugs on the street you can never be sure that what you’re getting is genuine.

How can I get help?

If you need more information on drugs Talk to Frank has lots of help and advice if you are worried about yourself, a friend or a family member.

If you would rather speak to someone locally, you can contact your local Health Centre. 

The NHS webpages also have lots of information on drugs, and help and advice for families of drug users and tips on how to talk to your child about drugs.