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Addiction Facts

Guide to slang terms

Drug names and especially slang terms can be confusing.

This guide by Dovetail is a great resource for understanding slang drug terms.

How drugs work

The Central Nervous System that consists of the brain and the spinal cord is affected by drugs because the molecular substance in the drug mimics or displaces the neurotransmitters that occur naturally.

There are several factors that can affect drug users differently including what drug is taken, how much is taken, whether other drugs have also been taken, circumstances surrounding the drug use, frequency of drug taking (tolerance develops) and routine of administration (i.e. orally, inhalation, injection or rectally).

Drugs can be classified by their effect on the central nervous system. There are 3 categories – these are:


DRUGS: nicotine, marijuana, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine (e.g. ice, speed, crystal meth, ecstasy), amphetamines (e.g. speed). 


Stimulants speed up messages to and from the brain. After using a stimulant the person experiences wakefulness, insomnia, suppressed appetite, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and respiration, dilated pupils and feelings of powerfulness and wellbeing. 


DRUGS: alcohol, marijuana, heroin, opiates, gases, tranquilisers, some solvents, non-narcotic analgesics. 


Depressants slow down messages to and from the brain.  After using a depressant the person experiences sedation and sleepiness, feelings of wellbeing and euphoria, loss of sensation, lower anxiety, pain reduction and decreased heart/respiration rates.



LSD or acid (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)

PCP (Phencyclidine)

STP (2,5-Dimethoxy-4-Methylamphetamine), 

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), Mescaline, some inhalants, some solvents, amphetamines, marijuana and gold-top mushroom. ​


Hallucinogens confuse messages to and from the brain causing hallucinations.  The effects of hallucinogens differ from person to person and are very unpredictable, ranging from euphoria to terror.


Withdrawal is the physical and psychological response to the absence of the drug in the body after the body has become used to having the drug in the system. The symptoms experienced in withdrawal are usually the opposite to the effect of the drug. (Warning: medical assistance is often required).

Why people use drugs?

People use legal and illegal drugs for a number of reasons. These commonly include:

  • to get well when they are sick

  • to feel confident about themselves

  • to escape, forget their problems

  • to assist them to stay up all night

  • to relax and ‘chill out’

  • to be accepted by a group of people

  • to loosen up and be free of usual inhibitions

  • to increase one’s enjoyment of other people

  • to feel happy

  • to have fun

  • to get sleep

  • to be rebellious

  • to relieve boredom

  • because people they respect do

  • to feel sociable

Practical help for families

If you have a loved one dealing with substance abuse, we are here to help you. If you'd like more information, you can contact our Family Support Service.


If you or someone you know would benefit from our program and want to enquire about any information concerning referrals please contact our Assessment Officer on (07) 3422 1500.