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What is a Drug?

A drug is any substance (except food and water) which, when taken, changes the way our bodies function. They effect the way we think, feel and behave.

Drugs may be legal (eg alcohol, caffeine and tobacco) or illegal (eg gunja, ecstasy, speed and heroin).

Effect of Drugs

Drugs can affect the way you think, feel, behave and connect with the people around you. While using you may:

In the short term:

  • Take more risks,
  • Have unsafe sex,
  • Self-harm,
  • Get into fights or harm others.

Long term, continuous drug use can affect:

  • Your mood - you may not enjoy activities, or hanging out with friends, and you may feel embarrassed, regretful or depressed.
  • Physically - you may feel tired, irritated, dizzy, and nauseous. You may also have trouble concentrating, sleeping or remembering things.
  • Drugs can affect your life in many different ways. 
Drug Dependence

Being dependent on a drug can vary from a 'mild urge' to a 'use to out-of-control urge'. People who become dependent on a drug may:

  • Become tolerant to its effects - this means they need to use more and more of the drug to get the same effect or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Feel like they need to take drugs to do certain things or feel a certain way.
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms - this means that a person may experience really unpleasant symptoms when they stop using a drug. These symptoms can include feeling sad or angry, or physical symptoms like vomiting, fits and cramps. Sometimes this can be life threatening. 
  • Behave differently or in unexpected ways - this can be very difficult for their family and community to manage.
Types of Drugs

There are four main groups of drugs that affect the brain and the rest of the body.

These types of drugs slow you down.

Examples of depressants are alcohol, benzodiazepines, heroin, some painkillers, kava, inhalants, cannabis (gunja).

These types of drugs speed you up. Mild stimulants include coffee, tea, cola drink and nicotine. Stronger stimulants include meth, ice, ecstasy and cocaine.

These types of drugs can make you see and hear things that aren't there or things that are there may look strange.

LSD or acid, magic mushrooms, mescaline (cactus), PCP (phencyclidine) are all hallucinogens.

Synthetic Drugs:
Some drugs have been designed to imitate and mimic other illegal drugs.

People may call them 'legal gunja' (also know as incense, Kronic or Spice) or 'legal meth' (bath salts). These drugs are heavily laced with many different chemicals. These drugs are extremely dangerous as buyers do not know what chemicals they are taking. Even the packaging of these drugs states that these products are not intended for human consumption. Side effects from taking these synthetic drugs can be really serious and life threatening.

Other Drugs:
Some drugs belong to two groups.

Gunja is a depressant and a hallucinogen. Ecstasy is a stimulant and a hallucinogen.


Why do people use drugs? & How do they affect us?

Why do people use drugs?

People use drugs for a lot of different reasons. These can include:

  • They like the feelings that they get when they take the drug.
  • Drugs help them manage feelings that they don't want to have.
  • Trying out or experimenting with the drug.
  • Taking drugs because they want to feel like they are part of the group.
  • Helping to cope with their everyday problems, but sometimes taking drugs can make their problems worse.

How do drugs affect us?

  • Our way of being healthy is to look after ourselves by making good choices, and to care for our family, community and culture.
  • Alcohol and other drugs can tangle and weaken our spirit and mind. This can affect our emotional, social, spiritual and physical well being. This can weaken our connection to family, community, culture and country.
  • When we use alcohol and other drugs in harmful ways our spirit becomes weaker and our thinking gets tangled. But if we stop or reduce our use, our spirit can grow strong and our thinking becomes clear again.
spirit model

Our inner spirit is the centre of our being and emotions.
When our inner spirit feels strong our mind feels strong.
When our spirit feels tangled our mind feels tangled.
Strong inner spirit is what keeps people healthy and keeps them connected together.
Strong inner spirit keeps our family strong, our community strong and our country alive.

Getting help and information

If you are thinking about reducing your drug use you might like some help or information.

If you are worried about somebody and how their drug use is affecting you and your family, perhaps you would like some help.

It may not be easy reducing your drug use but your friends, family and other people in your community can support you to make changes.

If you would like further information, please head to our services help and support page below.