What is a Drug?

Any substance other than food that you put into your body that changes the way your mind or body functions.

What do drugs do to your body?

They affect your mind and can distort your perception of what is happening around you.

Why do young people begin to experiment with drugs?

  • Peer pressure
  • Curiosity
  • Relieve stress or anxiety
  • To feel better
  • Boredom
  • Rebellion

What is a GOOD drug?

A GOOD drug is a drug that makes you feel better. However, a GOOD drug becomes a bag thing when you don't use them the way they are supposed to be used. This is called drug abuse and can happen with any drug.

Drugs and the Law

In Canada, if you are convicted for being found in possession of an illegal drug (controlled substance), you could face penalties that range from probation to a jail sentence. If you are convicted of trafficking (selling or trading) in certain illegal or controlled drugs, you could face a mandatory jail sentence. If illegal drugs are found in a vehicle in which you are the driver or a passenger, all of the people in the car can be charged with possession, even if the drugs are not yours.

Remember, any time you are convicted of a criminal offence in Canada, you will have a criminal record.

For many people the term “drug” tends to suggest illegal activity.  However, the use of tobacco and alcohol is legal for those over age 19, and medicines are legal when prescribed or available over the counter. 


Types of Drugs

TOBACCO is a stimulant and is known to cause heart disease, lung disease and even cancer. Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemicals including some poisons. Many provincial laws prohibit smoking on school property as well as in other public areas. There is no such thing as a safe poisons.

MARIHUANA is the most widely used illegal drug. Things are often added to marihuana that the buyer may not be aware of. Marihuana is considered a gateway drug. Some effects of marihuana use include loss of memory lack of motivation and lack of concentration.

INHALANTS are in many common household products including: glue, gasoline, spray paint and air fresheners. Some dangerous side effects of sniffing or huffing include: memory loss, slurred speech blurry vision, vomiting and seizures. These may also lead to permanent brain damage. One sniff can kill you!

STIMULANTS are drugs that speed up the central nervous system and temporarily make people feel more awake and alert. coffee and cigarettes are considered mild stimulants. cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines are much stronger and are highly addictive.

CLUB DRUGS may cause hallucinations, blackouts, paranoia, brain damage and death.  Ketamine, ecstasy and GHB are some examples of club drugs.

PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS are used to boost athletic performance or body strength. One of the most common performance enhancing drugs is steroids.


Prescription Medication Misuse & Abuse

  • Prescription medication can be safe and effective when used under the direction of a doctor or health care provider. For this reason, many people believe they are not as dangerous as illegal drugs. In reality, prescribed drugs can also be illegal and the misuse and abuse of these medications can lead to addiction, overdose and even death.

Some Commone Prescription Medications Include:

  • Ritalin and Concerta – These drugs are stimulants often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When taken as prescribed, they help increase a person’s attention span and decreases restlessness.
  • Oxycodone and Fentanyl – These drugs are often prescribed to relieve pain. They are considered opioids and are highly addictive. Oxycodone is normally in a pill or tablet form and fentanyl is commonly prescribed in a patch form

Warning Signs of Drug Use

Drug users typically exhibit problems in several areas of their lives. These warning signs may be indicators of physical or emotional problems. Being aware of them can help detect a drug problem before it gets out of control. If someone you know is showing any of these signs, be a friend. Listen to them, share what you know about drugs and encourage them to seek help from a counselor, teacher, relative or clergy member.

personality changes
sudden mood changes, irritability
irresponsible behaviour
low self-esteem
poor judgement, depression
a general lack of interest in all activities or topics
spending time thinking about how to get drugs

change in eating or sleeping patterns
repeated health complaints
red and glazed eyes
difficultly concentrating
lack of interest in personal grooming and physical appearance
feeling sick or shaky when not using the drug

hanging out with new friends, some of whom may be using drugs
problems with the law
stealing to be able to afford drugs
changes to less conventional styles in dress and music
Loss of interest in hobbies, sports or other activities that used to be important

decreased interest
negative attitude
drop in grades
irregular attendance
discipline problems

deteriorating relationships
starting arguments
breaking rules


Community Resources  
Alcohol Drug & Gambling Services 905-546-3606
Alternatives for Youth  905-527-4469
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 800-463-6273
Cocaine Anonymous 866-662-4636
Drug and Alcohol Registry of Treatment  800-565-8603
Grace Haven – New Choices (Women/Teens) 905-522-5556 ext.301
Men’s Withdrawal Management Centre 905-527-9264
Mission Services 905-528-7635
Mission Services – Suntrac Wellness & Addiction Centre 905-527-9264
Narcotics Anonymous  905-522-0332
Wayside House of Hamilton (Men) 905-528-8969
Wesley Urban Ministries – Claremont House 905-318-6903

Womankind – Women’s Addiction Service





905-521-9591 ext.237