Cocaine – also known by the names: ‘Blow’, ‘Coke’, ‘Toot’, ‘C’, ‘Candy’, ‘Charlie’, ‘Snow’

Cocaine can be injected, snorted as a powder or smoked in its ‘crack’ form.  This drug acts quickly to raise levels of dopamine – a pleasure inducing chemical – in the brain.  The initial pleasure rush makes you feel alert, confident and sexy.  After an hour or two of time has passed, you begin to crash, and those brain cells that are flooded with dopamine start screaming out for more.   This causes cravings for the drug which makes cocaine so addictive and makes cocaine a ‘binge’ drug.  Also, the body builds tolerance to the level of drug used and soon it takes more cocaine to get the same high. 

If you are getting high on cocaine, you’re also going to crash.   A crash is like a hangover.   Your body now filled with dopamine, shuts down production of that chemical and what was intense pleasure is replaced with intense depression and anxiety which can last for a few days.   If you use cocaine a lot your brain cells operations change.  Those cells now require higher levels of dopamine just to make you feel normal.   Now when you stop using cocaine you not only have the usual ‘crash’ but you can have up to three months of withdrawal.   This withdrawal can cause bad mood swings, a lack of or low energy levels, a lack of interest and/or pleasure in what’s going on around you.   

Medical problems are often associated with cocaine such as: paranoia, seizures, heart attack, strokes and even death.  Snorting cocaine can damage the lining of the nose causing bleeding.  Smoking it can lead to burns on your lips or mouth.   Brain scans of chronic cocaine users have shown changes to the brain which are probably permanent.  Shooting cocaine risks include: sores, infections, hepatitis and if dirty needles are used – the risk of HIV infection.  Shooting and smoking cocaine causes a quicker more intense high, but the low or ‘crash’ is also quicker and more intense.  Often this ‘crash’ will occur within fifteen minutes. 

Crystal – also known by the names: ‘Crystal Meth’, ‘Methamphetamine’, and ‘Tina’

Cheaper than cocaine and longer lasting, Crystal is also known as a ‘binge’ drug (meaning it is highly addictive).  Like cocaine, crystal greatly increases levels of dopamine in the brain which results in very high craving levels.  As with coke you build up a tolerance of the drug with each use and therefore require more of the drug for the same high.  The crash from crystal can be very low. 

Methods of use of crystal include: a dap on the tongue, snorting, smoking or injection.  Swallowing and snorting are the safest methods.   Both smoking and shooting rush the drug to the brain which can increase the risk of overdose and addiction. 

The long-term use of crystal can result in a lack of sleep over  a period of days, not eating enough, intense aggression, as well as a bunch of medical complications such as: paranoia, depression, hallucinations, stroke and liver damage.   Other consequences of crystal addiction can include negative effects on a person’s job, finances and personal relationships. 

Beware of the quality of crystal.  Often crystal is mixed with baby laxative, Epsom salts or other cutters that you don’t want in your nose or bloodstream.    Some side effects of pure Crystal are: itching skin, dilated pupils, fast heart rate, high blood pressure and diarrhoea.   In early use a person will feel very horny from crystal but over time it’s common to experience ‘Crystal Dick’ – the inability to get a hard-on. 

Some points to consider if you use Cocaine or Crystal

·         If you have issues with depression, remember that these drugs can cause depression from the crash that follows use.  So if you’re experiencing depression already these drugs can make it worse.

·         If you ever have feelings of paranoia or anxiety attacks, cocaine or crystal can make it more severe.

·         Combining alcohol with these drugs puts an even greater strain on your liver.

·         Make certain you get enough sleep and eat to prevent becoming malnourished.

·         Vitamin E may help ease the effects of a crash.

Ecstasy – also known by the names: ‘MDMA’, ‘E’, ‘XTC’, and ‘Adam’

Ecstasy is a popular drug among the club-going segments of the gay and lesbian community.  This drug increases serotonin in the brain resulting in a feeling of euphoria.  The drug lowers a person’s inhibitions, increases sensitivity of moods and gives quick energy to the user that can last for hours. 

This drug is not considered addictive so many people consider it ‘safe’ for recreational use.  While ecstasy overdoses are rare, this drug has been associated with dozens of deaths in North America and Europe from seizures, strokes and heart attacks.  Those persons appeared to be healthy and had not had excessively large doses of the drug.

A hangover described as fatigue and depression is common by all users.  As with other drugs, the body may develop a tolerance which will require higher doses of ecstasy to achieve the same high over time.  People who have herpes typically experience outbreaks after using ecstasy, which may indicate an overall weakening of the immune system from ecstasy usage. 

Ecstasy should not be used while taking prescribed medications like anti-depressants because those drugs also effect serotonin levels.  Ecstasy can make those drugs ineffective. 

GHB – also known by the names: ‘liquid ecstasy’, ‘G’, ‘Georgia Home Boy’, and ‘Grievous Bodily Harm’. 

GHB  is a depressant.  It is most commonly used in liquid form mixed with water and sipped all evening, producing a euphoric high.  GHB often produces spontaneous hard-ons in guys, making it desirable for many gay men.   However, finding the right dose can be difficult.   There is a fine line between a ‘good high’ and unconsciousness with GHB and this drug should not be mixed with any other drug (including alcohol). 

GHB is generally in powder form or mixed with water.   Measuring GHB in powder form is easier than in liquid form where concentration could vary widely.  When GHB is mixed with water it is colourless and odourless which helped  this drug gain notoriety as the ‘date rape drug’ in the 1990’s. 

There are a number of other drugs that are chemically the same as GHB and come in powder or capsule form.   These include: Renewtrient, Blue Nitro, Firewater, Enliven, Remforce, Revivarant, Serenity, ZEN, Revitalize Plus, Weight Belt Cleaner, Thunder Nectar, SomatoPro, NRG3, G3, and GHRE.    

GHB Overdose

Loss of balance, nausea and vomiting, loss of consciousness, impaired breathing, coma and death can result from GHB overdose.

Ketamine – also known by the names: ‘Special K’, ‘K’

Ketamine is a ‘dissociative anesthetic’,  what that means is that it gives the person a high that separates the mind from the body.   Ketamine can be snorted as a powder (often mixed with Vitamin B12), dabbed on tongue or injected in liquid form.   It is also sometimes mixed with tobacco or marijuana and smoked.  The effects of the drug are similar to ‘picncyclidine’ (PCP) and LSD. 

Many users say that ketamine in lower doses acts as an aphrodisiac and lowers sexual inhibitions, this can lead a user to engaging in unsafe sexual practices.  Medically, ketamine is known to increase heart rate and blood pressure.  Users pupils will become dilated.  Ketamine can sometimes cause vomiting.    Overdose (also referred to as being in the ‘K-hole’) of the drug can stop breathing and the heart.  If you find yourself or someone in the ‘K-hole’ you can wait it out, unless the person can’t breathe, tell you their name or day of the week, or they lose consciousness – get the person to the hospital. 

Poppers – also known by the names: ‘Leather cleaner’, ‘liquid incense’, ‘room deodorizer’

Poppers got their name from the time when they came in little glass tubes that were covered in netting.  These tubes would make a popping sound when broken open and inhaled.   Nowadays they are sold under various brand names in screw top bottles as ‘leather cleaner’, liquid incense’, ‘room deodorizer’ and ‘vinyl cleaner’.   

This substance acts as a vasodilator – meaning, it causes a sharp drop in blood pressure while the blood vessels open wider.   The heart races and blood rushes to the head.   Users claim that poppers make orgasms more intense.   Poppers relax the anal muscles which can make anal intercourse feel less painful and more pleasurable.   

In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, some scientists thought that due to so much use of poppers by gay men, that possibly poppers were the cause of AIDS.   That was disproved and is NOT true.

There was a small study that found popper use once or twice a week can suppress or weaken the immune system for days after.  So if you have HIV, you may wish to take that in consideration before or if you use poppers. 

Some things you should know about Poppers

·         Give yourself at least 3 minutes between sniffs of poppers to give your heart a rest.

·         Since poppers make you less aware of pain, stay alert to any soreness or tearing during sex.

·         Avoid popper use around open flames.  Poppers are highly flammable – keep them away from lighters, candles or cigarettes/joints.

·         Do not swallow the liquid!  Avoid skin contact as poppers can cause blistering and burning of skin.

·         If you have any heart problems, anemia or glaucoma avoid using poppers.

·         Headaches are common after use.   If headaches become a problem you might consider stopping use.

·         As with other substances, your body can build a tolerance to poppers which may require heavier use to obtain the same high.

Marijuana – also known by the names: ‘pot’, ‘hashish’, ‘weed’, ‘herb’, ‘grass’, ‘reefer’, ‘chronic’, ‘joint’, ‘skunk’, ‘Mary Jane’, ‘ganja’, ‘doobie’

Marijuana is the most widely used drug in North America.  Marijuana is actually the leaves and buds of the hemp plant.  THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is a main cannabinoid in the plant that gives the high when smoked, vapourized or ingested (brownies are a popular food for ingesting pot).  

Cannabinoids affect parts of the brain that control learning, attention span and memory.  It is in these areas that pot gives the user a high.   The lesser short-term effects of pot use include: increased pulse rate, sleepiness, short-term memory loss, and increased appetite.   More pronounced effects include: loss of coordination, paranoia, panic, restlessness, and weight gain. 

According to the Institute of Medicine, the brain develops a tolerance to marijuana, so in some people they may need more marijuana to get the same high over time.  Debate continues as to addiction and if marijuana is as addictive as caffeine.  In a report by the Institute of Medicine they identified a “distinctive marijuana withdrawal syndrome” that is “mild and short lived”.  Withdrawal symptoms can include: restlessness, irritability, insomnia and mild agitation. 

Some negative side effects of marijuana are lowered testosterone levels in men, irregular menstrual periods in women, and memory problems.   Those who smoke pot also risk heart and respiratory diseases – Vapourizers are a better alternative to smoking.   

Unless you use medical marijuana be aware that street marijuana may be laced with other substances. 

For more drug information visit these sites: 

Toronto – A safer place to party


Gay Men’s Health Crisis

Hi, My name is TINA


*The information on this page was in part taken from the following source:  GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis)




The AIDS Committee of Durham Region neither endorses nor encourages use of the drug(s) described.  Possession, use, or sale of many party drugs is illegal, and may make you subject to arrest and/or imprisonment.  Nothing contained here should be regarded in any way as a substitute for medical advice from a qualified physician who is familiar with all the details of your situation.

The use of substances to ‘enhance’ or ‘heighten’ your experience whether it be at the club or in the bedroom should be done without risking your health or life.  It is a well known fact that when you are high often the last thing you are thinking about is safer sex, but you should.   This information is supplied to help you have the knowledge to become empowered before you catch that Buzz.  It’s your health, your body; no one else is going to look after it like you will.