Drug Info

Educate yourself about drugs

How long do drugs stay in your system? What side effects can drugs have? You can find a great deal of misinformation out in the world, but at Oz Drug Tests, we aim to give you accurate information you can trust so you can act safely and protect yourself in the workplace or at home.

The risks of drug use

According to a 2007 paper produced by the Australian Safety and Compensation Council, around 2.5% of the workplace has reported going to work under the influence of illicit drugs. As well, “…workers who used illicit drugs were significantly more likely to take time off for any illness or injury… compared to people who did not use drugs.” This trend is similar for both men and women and across all age groups although younger workers (aged 14-17) are more likely to take time off work due specifically to their use of illicit drugs.

The top four drugs used by people in the paid workforce are:

  1. Cannabis
  2. Ecstasy
  3. Amphetamines
  4. Painkillers

(Source: Bywood, Pidd & Roche (2006) Illicit Drugs in the Australian Workforce: Prevalence and Patterns of Use.)

DRUGEFFECTSINDICATORSRISKSDETECTION: urineDETECTION: saliva
CocaineEuphoria, confidence, increased energyIncreased heart rate, dilation of pupils, fever, tremors, sweatingFrequent use can lead to psychological and physiological dependency, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure2-4 days12 Hours
CannabisRelaxes, elevates mood, can induce euphoriaBloodshot eyes, loss of co-ordination, accelerated heart rateShort-term: paranoia, impaired memory, impaired driving skills. Long-term: Respiratory problems/cancers; poor short-term memory; decreased sperm count in men; irregular menstruation in women.5-30 days12-36 Hours
MethamphetaminesEuphoria, alertness, reduced appetite, and a sense of increased energy and powerRapid heart rate, sweating, talkativeMore acute response produces anxiety, paranoia, psychotic behavior, and cardiac dysrhythmias3-5 days12 Hours
AmphetaminesEuphoria, alertness, and increased energyIncreased blood pressure, increased alertness, and cardiac arrhythmiasChronic abuse of amphetamine leads to tolerance and drug reinforcement effect. Cardiovascular responses to amphetamine include increased blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias1-2 days12 Hours
OpiatesDepressed coordination, smaller pupils, disrupted decision, decreased respiration, hypothermia and comaSmall pupils, sweating, nausea, vomitingContinued users of opiates can cause depression from not being able to think clearly and a sense of feeling lost (especially if its combined with alcohol), loss of cognitive function, arthritis2-4 days6-12 Hours
BenzodiazepinesDrowsiness, slurred words, mood swings, dizziness, muscle relaxation, lethargy, coma and possible deathCranky, tired, have no interest in doing ever day thingsLong term use can cause a crippling dependence, deep unconsciousness, dementia, and when large amounts are combined with opiates or alcohol, a fatal overdose could occur3-7 days6 Hours

Drug categories

Drugs tend to be classified into broad categories:

  • Analgesics (painkillers)
  • Benzodiazepines (“downers” that include legal drugs such as Valium® and illegal drugs such as GHB)
  • Cannabis
  • Hallucinogens (such as LSD, ‘magic mushrooms’ or mescaline)
  • Opiates (such as heroin, morphine and codeine)
  • Stimulants (including amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy)

Analgesics

Normally a person takes analgesics to relieve pain. Most analgesics are safe if used as prescribed and as the manufacturer advises.

Risk: Long-term use can lead to psychological and physiological dependence. It can also lead to liver damage.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages travelling between the brain and the body. A person taking one of these drugs would not necessarily feel depressed; indeed, they’re often prescribed for the treatment of stress and anxiety. Some people use benzodiazepines illegally to become intoxicated or to help with the ‘come down’ effects of stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine.

Risk: Users may be drowsy and less able to function normally. Long-term use may lead to dependence.

Cannabis

Cannabis use generally leads to relaxation and drowsiness. It may also be an hallucinogenic depending on the form in which it is ingested. Users may experience changed perception of colours, sounds and other sensations. Some sensitive users may experience paranoia.

Risk: Users may not be able to function normally when they are on the drug. Long-term use can lead to mental and physical health problems as well as psychological dependence.

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are psychedelic drugs; that is, they alter your perception of the world, your emotions, and your brain functions. Because of the drug’s reaction with serotonin, users may have changed perceptions of the world around them and even actual hallucinations.

Risk: When users are ‘tripping’, their ability to function normally is markedly decreased. Thought processes are altered, making normal work difficult. It is very dangerous to drive after taking an hallucinogenic drug.

Opiates

Opiates depress the central nervous system by slowing down breathing and heart rates, thought processes and co-ordination. Indicators include pinpoint pupils. Users experience euphoria.

Risk: Users, when on the drug, alternate between activity and extreme drowsiness (“on the nod”). They are unable to function normally. Over time, they suffer cognitive damage as well as an increased propensity to contract diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

Stimulants

Stimulants speed up the messages going between the brain and the body. The person taking stimulants will feel more alert and they tend to be more talkative. Doctors may legally prescribe some stimulants to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep).

Risk: Users may have inappropriate responses to danger or stimuli. They may also develop psychosis and other mental health issues.

 

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