Other drugs

Street drugs are in every community. Working together we can find solutions to the challenges of substance misuse.

Illegal drugs are not subject to health and safety standards.These drugs can be contaminated with pesticides, toxic fungi substances or other drugs.

The mere mention of these drugs can bring fear and worry to many who associate crime and violence with a drug-using lifestyle. However, illegal drug use is not limited to certain groups of people. It is everywhere and impacts everyone. By learning more about street drugs (Publishers Group West) and talking about them, we can begin to find solutions to the challenges that come from substance misuse.

*Have you found discarded needles in the community?

Learn how to safely pick up and dispose of needles.

Cocaine and crack cocaine

Cocaine is often purchased as a white powder that comes from the cocoa plant.  It can be snorted, smoked or injected. Crack cocaine looks like a small crystal and is broken down for use. It is heated and smoked. Cocaine is an illegal drug. Possession can result in a fine or incarceration (prison time).

Both are stimulants that make users feel more alert, talkative and energetic. Users often feel euphoric or high. Depending on how the drug is used, the effects can last for 10 to 30 minutes. As the effects of the high wear off, users can feel anxious and depressed, leading them to want more of the drug.

Taking high doses of cocaine for a long time can lead to:

People who use cocaine regularly can become tolerant to the euphoric effects and will need more of the drug to get the desired effect.

Cocaine makes the heart beat faster and raises blood pressure and body temperature. Sudden death can occur from cocaine use.


Heroin is a white or pale coloured powder that comes from the opium poppy plant. Any colour in heroin is the result of additives, which can include sugar, caffeine, or other substances including poisons. Heroin is an illegal drug. Possession of heroin can result in a fine or incarceration.

Heroin is a highly addictive stimulant. The high from heroin and from prescription opioid drugs is similar because their active ingredient is derived from the opium poppy. Heroin can be injected, snorted, sniffed or smoked. Users feel euphoric and have clouded mental functioning and trouble moving their limbs. After the initial high, users will feel alternately wakeful and drowsy. These effects can last 3 to 6 hours. Withdrawal can be very painful.

Heroin breaks down the immune system. Users are more likely to get infections. Additives that might be in the heroin do not fully dissolve in the body either. When injected into the body, the additives can clog blood vessels and cause infection or damage vital organs.

Heroin is not a regulated substance. Users never know the actual strength of the drug they are using, which puts them at risk for an overdose.

Synthetic drugs

Synthetic drugs are illegal man-made substances, sometimes called designer drugs. A designer drug is a drug made to copy of another drug. Because the person making the drug can add any ingredient they want, the purity of the drug is never known, and the drug could contain harmful ingredients.

These drugs can be stimulants or depressants and can be in the form of pills, capsules, powder, or other forms.

Examples of synthetic drugs:

Synthetic drugs are illegal. Possession of these substances can result in a fine or incarceration.  As with any illegal drug, synthetic drugs are not subject to health and safety standards.These drug may be contaminated with other drugs or unreported and hazardous substances. Deaths have been reported in several cases.

Are you concerned about your use or someone else’s drug use?

Safe Needle Disposal

Learn how to safely pick up and dispose of discarded needles.

The Point (harm reduction supplies and services)

The Point offers free harm reduction supplies and services to people who use drugs. The supplies and services offered aim to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, like HIV and hepatitis B and C, and reduce the risks associated with using drugs. Learn more about The Point.

This item was last modified on September 21, 2016