Drug safety Advice

Gloucestershire Constabulary is committed to reducing the harm caused by the misuse of illegal drugs in the county.
Working with our partners in the Crime and Disorder District groups throughout the county, initiatives are on going to target problematic drug use that is the cause of substantial levels of crime.

Gloucestershire Constabulary Drug Plan

How the police service deals with drug issues will have a major impact on society. The aim of the Gloucestershire Constabulary Drug Plan is to reduce drug-related crime.
Our plan is closely aligned to:
- The Government's national strategy "Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain."
- The aims of the Gloucestershire Drugs and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT)
- The six Crime and Disorder Partnerships operating in the county.
Gloucestershire Constabulary intends to make a measurable impact on drug-related offending in the county. We will work with partners and others to increase understanding of the scale of the problem, concentrating on those places where drugs cause the most harm to communities.
The link between drugs and other crime has been clearly established. It is through improved information that prolific offenders who also misuse drugs will be identified and targeted for prosecution and, where appropriate, referred for treatment.

What to do if you discover someone close to you is using drugs

  • Don't panic! An over-reaction could do more harm than good. A calm approach is best.
  • Make sure you know the facts about the different drugs around today. You'll then be in a position to talk sensibly with the person without losing credibility.

Find out which drugs they are using, how often are they using them, what are the effects they are experiencing, how much are they spending. It is important to gather this information because you need to form an understanding of how deeply they are involved and how much control they have over their drug use.
Share your concerns. There are many telephone help-lines available, some of which are free, where trained and knowledgeable people will listen and support you.
Remember not to blame yourself. Illegal drug use is more common today with recent surveys claiming that as many as 50 per cent of 16 year olds having tried drugs. The majority will come to no harm and grow out of it. We might not like it, and it is illegal, but for many young people drugs are sadly seen as part of growing up and are cheap, acceptable and easily available. 

So how can we prevent it?

Despite rigorous law enforcement initiatives we are never going to prevent it all, particularly while drugs are available and so much money is to be made from selling them. But the following advice should provide help and encouragement for adults tackling drug issues with young people.

  • Discuss the facts about the various substances - good and bad. People use drugs because they like the effects, but make sure they know the risks - physical, social and psychological.
  • Try to be open when talking to the person. If you can remain non-judgmental they are more likely to come and talk to you when they need help and advice.
  • Talk to young people from an early age about how to cope with everyday problems. People who use drugs habitually or lapse back into drug taking often use them as a way of blocking out problems in the short term.
  • Try at every opportunity to increase the person's self-esteem. People who feel good about themselves don't take unnecessary risks with their health on a regular basis.

There is research evidence that indicates young people who have high self esteem, disposable finance, high education achievement and good prospects choose drug use - especially stimulants as a positive enhancement to their lives.

An increasing number of Cannabis Factories are being uncovered across the county. These are often in suburban houses rented for this purpose. The interiors are stripped out and plants are grown under hothouse conditions sometimes crammed into every room of the property.

To help us tackle drug related crime please contact us if you suspect that Cannabis is being cultivated in your neighbourhood. Click here to view our poster.

Drug Facts

What are the signs...? What are the uses...?
Fiction often gets in the way of facts when people think start talking about drugs. The following section has been designed to provide factual, accurate information on drugs.
By providing this information we are not encouraging or promoting drugs - the facts speak for themselves.


Nicknames for Amphetamine include Whizz, Speed, Uppers and Billy.
Nicknames for cannabis include Dope, Weed, Wacky-Backy, Blow, Hash, Pot, Draw and Skunkweed; the cigarettes containing cannabis are referred to as joints, spliffs, reefers and roach ends.
Cocaine and Crack
Cocaine Hydrochloride is known as Charlie, Coke, Snow and Crack Cocaine is known as Rocks, Freebase and Stories.
Nicknames for Ecstasy include E's, New Yorkers, White Doves, Disco Burgers, Love Doves and Dennis the Menace.
Nicknames for heroin include Smack, H, Gear and Brown.
Also known as Acid, Strawbs, Domes, Flats, Barrels and Trips.
Magic Mushrooms
Also known as Mushies or Shrooms.
Nitrites (poppers)
Bottles carry the brand names Rush, Stud, Locker Room, Liquid Gold, TNT and Ram.
Solvent abuse or Volatile Substance Abuse involves gas, butane, aerosols and nail varnish remover.
Commonly used names are Anavar, Sustanon, Dionabot, Durabolin and Decanobol.

Crime Reduction, DrugSafe - AmphetamineAmphetamine

  • Amphetamine usually comes as a grey, white or dirty-white powder, or sometimes in tablets.
  • It can be sniffed, swallowed, injected or smoked.
  • Amphetamine is the most impure illegal drug in the UK.
  • Amphetamine is a stimulant drug which produces sensations of alertness, confidence and well-being and seems to raise levels of energy and stamina
  • It lessens the desire to eat and sleep.
  • Some people who use amphetamine also become tense and experience feelings of anxiety.

How is amphetamine used?

  • It can be sniffed, swallowed or injected.
  • Swallowing the drug, either mixed in a drink or wrapped in a cigarette paper is the safest method of using amphetamine.
  • Sniffing amphetamine takes effect faster than swallowing but it can damage the nose.
  • Injecting is the riskiest method of using amphetamine as the dose reaches the brain quicker.
  • Repeated injections damage the veins, leading to thrombosis and abscesses.
  • Sharing syringes can cause hepatitis and HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS.

What are the drawbacks associated with amphetamine?

  • When the drug wears off there can be an unpleasant comedown which can last for one or two days, sometimes longer. Users can feel tired, lethargic and depressed. This leads some people to take more amphetamine, to try and avoid the comedown
  • Extended use of amphetamine can lead to illnesses such as psychosis. The user may think that everybody is out to get them, or they are being followed or watched

Amphetamine is against the law

  • Possessing amphetamine is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and unlimited fine.
  • Supplying amphetamine, including giving some to a friend, is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

 Crime Reduction, Drugsafe - Cannabis Cannabis

  • Cannabis is a natural substance derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant.
  • It comes in a solid, dark lump known as resin or as leaves, stalks and seeds called grass, or as a sticky oil.
  • Using cannabis makes most users relaxed and talkative.
  • It can heighten the senses, especially when it comes to colours, taste and music.

How is it used?

  • It can be rolled with tobacco, smoked on its own in a special pipe or eaten.

What are the drawbacks of cannabis?

  • Cannabis can increase negative emotions.
  • Cannabis makes the reflexes slower, which can cause accidents - you should never drive under the influence of Cannabis.
  • Cannabis users may experience nausea, hallucinations, anxiety, panic attacks or paranoia.
  • Smoking joints with tobacco can lead to users getting hooked on cigarettes.
  • Smoking cannabis over a long period of time may increase the risk of respiratory disorders, including lung cancer.

Cannabis is against the law
Cannabis is a Class C controlled drug. Supply, dealing, production (including cultivation) and trafficking can result in a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment. The maximum penalty for dealing all Class C drugs has increased from 5 to 14 years' imprisonment.

Cocaine and Crack

  • Cocaine is a drug made from the coca plant.
  • It is a stimulant, like amphetamine, though much shorter acting.
  • It produces sensations of alertness, confidence and well-being

How is it used?

  • Cocaine hydrochloride is a white powder that can be sniffed or injected.
  • Crack cocaine is cocaine hydrochloride that has been chemically altered to form crystals that can be smoked.
  • Sniffing is the safest method of using cocaine, although it can damage the nose.
  • Smoking crack is more dangerous than sniffing. It can produce extremely compulsive behaviour and can damage the lungs.
  • Injecting cocaine is also very risky. The dose reaches the brain almost immediately, increasing the possibility of overdose or seizure.
  • Repeated injections damage the veins, leading to thrombosis and abscesses.
  • Sharing syringes can cause hepatitis and HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS.

What are the drawbacks?

  • Cocaine and crack are very short acting.
  • Both produce tolerance - users need to keep taking larger amounts to get the same effect.
  • High doses can cause overdose.
  • Continued use can lead to paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis.

Cocaine and crack are against the law

  • Possessing crack or cocaine is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
  • Supplying crack or cocaine is punishable by up to life imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
  • Cocaine can be detected in the urine for up to three days.


  • Ecstasy is a member of a family of drugs that include amphetamine.
  • It produces a relaxed euphoric state without hallucinations.

How is it used?

  • It is almost always swallowed as a tablet or capsule.
  • Ecstasy is not addictive. However, the drug can take on great importance in people's lives.
  • The drug takes effect 20 to 40 minutes after taking a tablet with little rushes of exhilaration which can be accompanied by nausea. The effects of ecstasy subside after 3- 4 hours.

What are the drawbacks?

  • Very little is known about the long-term effects of taking ecstasy.
  • The comedown from ecstasy can leave users feeling tired and depressed, often for days.
  • Use has been linked to liver and kidney problems.
  • There have been more than 60 ecstasy-related deaths in the UK.
  • Anybody who suffers from hypertension or heart problems, epilepsy, asthma or who is pregnant or using anti-depressants should not take ecstasy.

Ecstasy is against the law

  • The maximum sentence for possession is seven years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
  • The maximum sentence for supplying is life imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
  • Ecstasy can be detected in the urine for about 2-4 days.


  • Heroin is a painkilling drug made from the opium poppy.
  • Opiate drugs, such as heroin are addictive and habit-forming. Anyone who uses heroin regularly may experience tolerance: a need for large doses to get the same effect.
  • withdrawal symptoms: running nose, sweats, chills and cramps.
  • a powerful psychological craving for the drug.

How is it used?

  • Heroin can be sniffed, smoked or injected.
  • The effects are the same, but each method has different risks.
  • Smoking is safer than sniffing. It enters the body gradually, so the dose can be more easily controlled.
  • Injecting is the most risky method of taking heroin.

What are the drawbacks?

  • Addiction to heroin brings about a lifestyle which is almost certainly crime orientated. Users often find themselves having to commit crime to fund their heroin habit
  • Repeated injections damage the veins, leading to thrombosis and abscesses.
  • Sharing syringes can cause hepatitis and HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS.
  • Heroin addicts are generally unwell people. Some may demonstrate signs of depression and uneasiness.

Heroin is against the law
Heroin is a Class A controlled drug and sentences range from fines for possession, and up to life imprisonment and unlimited fines for supply


How is it used?
LSD is a psychedelic drug sold on the black market in the form of small squares of blotting paper, cut into 5mm squares with printed images on them. The images are often changed to coincide with current trends in teenage culture.
LSD is taken orally and a dose is referred to as a "trip." While experiencing the "trip" users will see colours appearing to be sharper and moving objects leaving traces behind them. Time slows almost to a standstill and users will feel they are in another world.

What are the drawbacks?
LSD can trigger mental problems and produce delusions, paranoia and schizophrenia-like states. Users can experience a change in their personality and panic attacks, which can last for several months. LSD can impair judgement and users should never drive while under the influence.

LSD is against the law
LSD is a Class A controlled drug and sentences range from fines and imprisonment for possession and up to life imprisonment and unlimited fines for supply.

Magic Mushrooms

How are they used?

  • They can be eaten, brewed into tea or dried and ground.
  • The users may experience mental distortion and claim to see colours more intensely.
  • A Magic Mushroom "trip" tends to last about four hours.

What are the drawbacks?

  • Taking Magic Mushrooms can impair judgement and cause accidents. You should never drive while under the influence of Magic Mushrooms.
  • Magic Mushrooms can also cause panic attacks.

Magic Mushrooms are against the law
Possession and use of Magic Mushrooms in their natural form is illegal.

Nitrites (poppers)

Nitrites are prescription only medicines. They were originally used as a treatment for heart problems. They used to legally be sold in small bottles and were available in sex shops, night clubs and fashion outlets but they are now available only on prescription.
How are they used?
They are normally sniffed direct from the bottle. Poppers are reported to be able to enhance sexual activity but in actual fact have the opposite effect. Poppers can infact lower inhibitions which enable users to have spontaneous sexual relationships.

What are the drawbacks?
Excessive use will reduce oxygen in the blood. Anyone with anemia, glaucoma or a heart condition should avoid using them at all costs.
Occasionally users may develop a rash around the lips, cheeks and nose - this will clear when people stop using poppers.
Poppers are against the law
Yes. They are now only available on prescription.


In an average home there are over 30 sniffable products include aerosol sprays, glues, petrol and dry cleaning products.

How is it used?
It is sniffed into the body through the nose or mouth.
What are the drawbacks?

  • Sniffing these substances can be lethal or cause long-term damage.
  • Sniffing can have an effect on the heart, so if exertion or fright follows, death can result.
  • Getting intoxicated through solvent abuse is always potentially dangerous: people become more reckless than usual and less able to deal with danger.

Signs and symptoms of solvent abuse

  • Empty butane aerosol or glue cans or plastic bags.
  • Chemical smell on clothes or breath.
  • "Drunken" behaviour.
  • Wide swings in mood or behaviour.
  • Spots around the nose or mouth.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Persistent headaches, sore throats or runny nose.

Is solvent abuse against the law?
The Intoxicating Substance Act 1985 makes it an offence to supply a young person under 18, or who the supplier believes to be under 18, any substance to achieve intoxication.


  • Anabolic steroids are drugs which mimic the effect of the natural male hormone testosterone.
  • They are taken orally or injected into the muscle.

How is it used?

  • People use anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass, to train harder and to reduce the recovery time needed after training.
  • It is believed the benefit from steroids is psychological and so make people feel they are stronger than they actually are.

What are the drawbacks?

  • There are a number of side effects associated with using anabolic steroids. These include acne, disorders of the liver and kidneys, mood swings and aggression and a stunting of growth in young people. 
  • There is also an increased chance of heart attacks and strokes.
  • In men it can cause the growth of breasts, shrinking of the testicles and infertility.
  • In women it can cause the growth of body hair and deepening of the voice.

Are steroids against the law?
Anabolic Steroids are prescription only medicines. It is not illegal to possess them but it is illegal to supply them. There is a large illicit market in anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroid users often do not regard themselves as substance abusers. However there are many thousands of such users who encounter problems with this form of abuse. 

Specialist Help - 

(Opening hours 9.30am - 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, excluding Tewkesbury)

GDAS (Gloucestershire Drug and Alcohol Service)

98-100 Eastgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 1QN (accessed via Kings Barton Rd)
T: (01452) 381166 F: (01452) 550581

Montrose House, Wellington Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1XY
T: 01242 584881 F: 01242 584882

23 King Street, Stroud, GL3 3BX
T: (01453) 755711 F: (01453) 755632

Belle Vue Centre, Cinderford, GL14 2AB
T: 01594 825656 F: 01594 854565
Above 128 High Street, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, GL20 5JU
T: 01684 291391 F: 01684 291391 
(open Tuesday & Thursday 9.30-4.30. Entrance in Old Post Office Alley)
GDAS is a county-wide drug and alcohol agency providing the services formerly offered by the Gloucestershire Drugs Project and ACIS Alcohol Service.
GDAS gives information, advice, on-going support and referrals to other agencies across the county, for people who are worried about their own or someone else's substance misuse. This includes alcohol and illegal or prescribed drugs.
GDAS drug service has a range of services at venues around the county offering a safe environment to talk openly about drug or alcohol use. They respect the right to anonymity.
What GDAS offers:

  • Information about illicit and prescribed drugs and their effects
  • Information about safer drug use
  • Information about HIV, Hepatitis and other health issues
  • One to one support
  • Crisis intervention
  • Relapse prevention
  • Acudox (auricular acupuncture)
  • Information and help with referrals to other services, this includes residential rehabilitation
  • A choice of male and female workers
  • Action plans and looking to the future

To access GDAS:

  • You don't have to be drug free, GDAS aims to work with people at any stage of drug use
  • If you wish to access any of their services, you don't have to make any commitment to changes you don't feel ready to make
  • GDAS aims to provide services tailored to the individual's need
  • Each client will be offered an appointment within 3 working days
  • Referrals can be made by telephone, letter or by person. They are accepted by other agencies.

Needle Exchange
For full information about needle exchange and safer injecting in the county, contact GDAS directly.
E-mail: drugs@gdas.co.uk
Safer needle exchange packs can be collected from the above addresses, aswell as a list of pharmacy outlets across the county. For information on the disposal of needles and equipment, contact GDAS.
All the named GDAS bases offer information about alcohol.
E-mail: alcohol@gdas.co.uk
Useful National Contacts
Free confidential drugs information and advice
Alcohol Concern
National charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol, a leading agency in substance related family work

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