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:
(Source: Bywood, Pidd & Roche (2006) Illicit Drugs in the Australian Workforce: Prevalence and Patterns of Use.)
EFFECTS: Euphoria, confidence, increased energy.
INDICATORS: Increased heart rate, dilation of pupils, fever, tremors, sweating.
RISKS: Frequent use can lead to psychological and physiological dependency, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.
DETECTION: Urine 2-4 days, Saliva 12 hours.
EFFECTS: Relaxes, elevates mood, can induce euphoria.
INDICATORS: Bloodshot eyes, loss of co-ordination, accelerated heart rate.
RISKS: Short-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.
DETECTION: Urine 5-30 days (30 days for chronic users), Saliva 5-18 hours.
EFFECTS: Euphoria, alertness, reduced appetite, and a sense of increased energy and power.
INDICATORS: Rapid heart rate, sweating, talkative.
RISKS: More acute response produces anxiety, paranoia, psychotic behavior, and cardiac dysrhythmias.
DETECTION: Urine 3-5 days, Saliva 12 hours.
EFFECTS: Euphoria, alertness, and increased energy.
INDICATORS: Increased blood pressure, increased alertness, and cardiac arrhythmias.
RISKS: Chronic abuse of amphetamine leads to tolerance and drug reinforcement effect. Cardiovascular responses to amphetamine include increased blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias.
DETECTION: Urine 1-2 days, Saliva 12 hours
EFFECTS: Depressed coordination, smaller pupils, disrupted decision, decreased respiration, hypothermia and coma.
INDICATORS: Small pupils, sweating, nausea, vomiting.
RISKS: Continued 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, arthritis.
DETECTION: Urine 2-4 days, Saliva 6-12 hours
EFFECTS: Drowsiness, slurred words, mood swings, dizziness, muscle relaxation, lethargy, coma and possible death.
INDICATORS: Cranky, tired, have no interest in doing ever day things.
RISKS: Long term use can cause a crippling dependence, deep unconsciousness, dementia, and when large amounts are combined with opiates or alcohol, a fatal overdose could occur.
DETECTION: Urine 3-7 days, Saliva 6 hours
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)
- Hallucinogens (such as LSD, ‘magic mushrooms’ or mescaline)
- Opiates (such as heroin, morphine, and codeine)
- Stimulants (including amphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy)
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 slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages traveling 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 use generally leads to relaxation and drowsiness. It may also be a 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 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 a hallucinogenic drug.
Opiates depress the central nervous system by slowing down breathing and heart rates, thought processes and coordination. 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 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.