Module 6: how drugs work: learner's workbook

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 on bodily functioning.

Task - group activity/writing exercise
Case study - Sandy
Workplace learning activity

Task - group activity/writing exercise

In completing the following exercise, use the fact sheets or other resources such as the Centre for Education and Information on Drugs and Alcohol ( referred to in the references section of this Workbook.

Choose five drugs from the list below. Make sure your list includes at least one stimulant, one depressant and one hallucinogen and at least two legal drugs.
  • CNS stimulants: nicotine; amphetamines; ecstasy; cocaine; and caffeine

  • CNS depressants: cannabis; alcohol; heroin; petrol (a volatile substance); benzodiazepines; and Gamma-Hydroxy-Butyrate (GHB, also known as Fantasy)

  • Hallucinogens: LSD; magic mushrooms; and kava
For each drug, list the harmless short-term effects, harmful or unpleasant short-term effects, and harmful long-term effects.

Case study - Sandy

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

Group activity

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?
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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 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 effects?
You may have noticed that some drugs can lead to similar effects.