Module 6: how drugs work: facilitator's guide

7.1 Short-term and long-term drug effects

Page last updated: 2004

The effect of a drug is determined by many factors in addition to the type and amount of the drug taken.

However, each psycho-active drug does have specific and often predictable effects on the user's behaviour, mood and thoughts and often bodily functioning.

Short-term and long-term drug effects
Case study - Sandy
Workplace learning activity

Short-term and long-term drug effects

Group activity

Divide learners into three smaller groups (Stimulants, Depressants and Hallucinogens). Each group is to list short-term effects (both harmless and harmful) and harmful long-term effects for the drug in their allocated category. They then complete Drugs Effects table in the Learner's Workbook and report back to whole group.

Group 1: CNS Stimulants
  • nicotine
  • amphetamines
  • ecstasy* (can also be considered as 'other')
  • cocaine
  • caffeine
Group 2: CNS Depressants
  • cannabis* (can also be considered as 'other')
  • alcohol
  • heroin
  • petrol (a volatile substance)
  • benzodiazepines
  • Gamma - Hydroxy - Butyrate (GHB, also known as Fantasy
Top of pageGroup 3: Hallucinogens
  • LSD
  • magic mushrooms
  • kava

* Both ecstasy and cannabis can produce hallucinations, especially in cases of heavy use, or inexperienced users. However they are usually considered primarily as CNS stimulants and depressants respectively, as these effects are almost always present.

Case study - Sandy

Group activity

Sandy is a 14-year-old female who attends your service. She has been drinking and smoking cannabis just prior to her arrival.

Question - What are the likely effects of this drug use on Sandy's behaviour?

Question - How would you determine whether Sandy had been drinking and smoking cannabis?

Question - Which other drugs could possible lead to similar effects and symptoms?

Workplace learning activity

Think of a young person you have worked with whom you believed was affected by drugs.

Question - With reference to the table on Drug Effects Table state:
  1. What indicators you noticed that led you to believe they were affected by the drug/s?

  2. Which drugs could possibly produce similar types of effects?
You may have noticed that some drugs can lead to similar effects.