FAQ

For How Long Will a Drug Remain Detectable in my System?

This depends on which drug you are talking about, how much has been taken, how often it has been taken and what method is being used to test for the drug.

The list below shows the number of days a urine drug test will continue to show positive after you have taken a drug. These times can differ depending on what testing kit is used, so this list is only a very general guide. For example, most tests for ecstasy will normally report positive for at least one day after the ecstasy was taken, but some tests will also report positive for up to 4 days after use.

Further laboratory testing may be needed to exactly identify which drug has been taken. For example, further testing may be needed to confirm whether a positive result for opiates was due to heroin use or an over-the-counter headache medicine.

• Amphetamine 1-5 days

• Cannabis 2-3 days for one-off use (up to 2 months for chronic users)

• Cocaine 12 hours – 3 days

• Crystal Meth 1 – 4 days

• Diazepam 1 – 3 days (or up to 6 weeks if the diazepam has been used over a long period of time)

• Ecstasy 1 – 4 days

• GHB up to 24 hours

• Heroin 2 – 5 days

• Ketamine 2 – 4 days

• LSD 1 – 3 days

• Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin) up to 8 hours

• Methadone 2 – 5 days

• Steroids 14 days (oral) – 1 month (injected)

• Temazepam 1 – 2 days (longer if the temazepam has been injected)

• Tramadol 2 – 6 days

How Long Does Cannabis Stay in the Body?

You can still be affected by cannabis the day after smoking it. If you’ve used cannabis as a one-off it will show up in a urine test for normally about 2-3 days. However, this can go up to a month for regular users and two months for regular users whose use if heavy.

Why is Mixing Drugs Dangerous?

By mixing drugs you increase the chances of having a bad time for a range of reasons:

Taking similar types of drugs can increase their negative effects and be dangerous. For example, taking two depressants like heroin and alcohol.
A drug may affect you in a particular way that makes other drug(s) you take more dangerous than usual.
One drug may mean you have to take higher levels of another type of drug to feel the effects and this can lead to overdose.
The drugs might interact in completely unexpected ways.

Mixing Depressants

Depressants are substances which make you feel relaxed but can slow down your heart rate and breathing which can be fatal. Overdose is much more likely when these drugs are taking together as they are causing the same effect on your body. Heroin, tranquilisers and alcohol are all depressant drugs.

Mixing Stimulants

Sometimes the effects of a stimulant don’t kick in straight away so you may take something else too quickly. This can give an unpleasant overdose effect but could also put a serious strain on the heart. Frightening and fatal overdoses have been reported with excess stimulant use. Cocaine and speed are all stimulants.

Mixing Stimulants and Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant which can relax you and stimulants are drugs which make you feel more energetic. As they have the opposite effect you may find you need to take more to feel an effect. As stimulants and alcohol put pressure on the heart, this can increase the risk of heart failure.

Mixing Cocaine and Alcohol

This combination can produce a poisonous substance in the body called cocaethylene that may affect your heart and stays in your system longer than cocaine alone. Mixing cocaine, a stimulant, with a depressant like alcohol can hide some of the other effects of the cocaine. This makes it easier to overdose as you take more to achieve the same high.

Mixing Ecstasy and Cannabis

Sometimes people take cannabis to take the edge off an ecstasy trip. But instead of calming you down, it could make you more anxious and paranoid.

Mixing Heroin and Cocaine

When heroin and cocaine are taken together at the same time, this is known as a ‘speedball’, and this can be a deadly combination. Both heroin and cocaine put pressure on the body and using them together, especially when injected, can easily become fatal.

What Long Term Damage can Cannabis Cause?

Cannabis in the short term can make you feel paranoid and regular use can increased the risk of later developing psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia. A family background of mental illness could mean that you have an additional increased risk of developing a psychotic illness from using cannabis and other drugs.

Regular users may find they lack motivation in their day-to-day lives, lose interest in things and lose touch with their friends. Also it is reported that frequent use of cannabis may affect the fertility of men and women.

Like tobacco, cannabis has lots of chemical ‘nasties’. These can cause lung disease and possibly cancer with long-term or heavy use. Cannabis can also make asthma worse, and cause wheezing in non-asthma sufferers.

Cannabis is often mixed with tobacco and smoked without a filter. You are therefore at risk from the harmful effects of tobacco as well.

What can I do if my friend is using Cannabis?

Talking to them is a good place to start but it can be difficult to start this conversation as drugs are a sensitive subject. You could use a magazine article or TV storyline to bring up the subject. You could ask them how they are feeling in general and move the conversation on to the reasons why they might be using cannabis.

You may want to let them know about the risks of using cannabis, which you could phrase as ‘did you know that’:

• It can lead to isolation and a lack of motivation, which can result in you not taking part in your hobbies/interests (e.g. smoking cannabis may mean that you get chucked off the football team). It can affect your school work and lead to poor exam results.

• Its illegal and you risk getting in trouble with the law, which can affect your future, such as job opportunities and where you can go on holiday.

• You can become psychologically dependent

It may be helpful to ask what your friend might want to change or to achieve in their life – and explore with them if changing their cannabis use might have a role in this. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, then perhaps encourage them to call HURT on 028 7136 9696 or visit this site.

How long does Cocaine Stay in the Body?

The effects of cocaine powder wear off quite quickly, in about 20-30 minutes (even faster with crack cocaine). But you can still be affected with a ‘come-down’ the day after you use cocaine. A urine test will usually stay positive for between 12 hours – 3 days.

What is the Worst Drug?

All drugs are potentially dangerous and have varying effects on individuals, so it is not possible to name the worst drug. For more information on the effects and risks of various drugs go to the A-Z of drugs.

Some drugs are more addictive than others, for example crack cocaine, heroin and tobacco.

Some are likely to cause dangerous effects immediately. For example, as hyperthermia seen with ecstasy use or heart attacks with crack use.

Some can lead to specific long term physical damage, for example crystal meth, ketamine and alcohol.

Some drugs can have a stronger psychological or psychiatric impact and might, for example, trigger the onset of a pre-existing mental conditions. For example, khat, amphetamine and cannabis are known to have these effects.

However, there’s no way of you knowing beforehand the harmful effects to which you may be particularly sensitive.

My Friend Took Drugs, Will They Become an Addict?

The chance of getting hooked after taking a drug only once is extremely low.

People who become addicted/dependent usually:

• Have taken the drug regularly

• Continue to need a regular supply of it

• Have not been able successfully to cut down or stop

• Will do things they normally wouldn’t do to get the drug (such as committing crimes like stealing, running up debts or buying medicines from multiple chemists)

Sometimes people who are addicted (or dependent) don’t believe they are or they don’t feel able to admit it. So, if you think your friend has a problem and you want to help them, think about how you’re going to approach the topic and what you’re going to say. It could be a sensitive subject for them and you don’t want to put them off. They may not listen to you at first – but don’t let this put you off. Contact HURT if you would like more information on what to do if you’re worried about a friend.

What is the Drug Classification System?

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, illegal drugs are placed into one of 3 classes – A, B or C. This is broadly based on the harms they cause either to the user or to society when they are misused.

The class into which a drug is placed affects the maximum penalty for an offence involving the drug. For example, Class A drugs attract the most severe penalty as they are considered likely to cause the most serious harm. Drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act are illegal to have, produce, give away or sell.

• Class A drugs include: heroin (diamorphine), cocaine (including crack), methadone, ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, and magic mushrooms.

• Class B includes: amphetamines, barbiturates, codeine, cannabis, cathinones (including mephedrone) and synthetic cannabinoids.

• Class C includes: benzodiazepines (tranquilisers), GHB/GBL, ketamine, anabolic steroids and benzylpiperazines (BZP).

Not all drugs are illegal, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t harmful. For example, tobacco and alcohol can seriously damage your health. And recently new ‘legal highs’ have been developed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs like cocaine and ecstasy but are structurally different enough to avoid being classified as illegal substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act. However, they can still have dangerous side effects.

Some drugs do have a legitimate use, as a medicine, in research or in industry. To use, import or produce these drugs you need to obtain a licence from the Home Office.

Is Treatment Confidential?

Drug treatment should always be provided on a highly confidential basis. A health professional is only allowed to breach confidentiality in very limited situations – such as when there is a significant risk of imminent harm to another person. Confidentiality should normally always be discussed at the first assessment/appointment.

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