Illegal drugs are those that are not prescribed by a doctor or bought at a drugstore. They are sometimes also called "street drugs."
Some examples of illegal drugs include heroin (a narcotic); cocaine (a stimulant); LSD, mescaline, PCP, methamphetamine, and psilocybin (hallucinogens); marijuana and hashish (cannabis); and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).
The effects of illegal drugs can be unpredictable because:
- Most drugs are very addictive.
- People respond differently to the same drugs.
- The strength or potency of the drug may be uncertain.
- They may contain unknown or unexpected substances. There is no quality control for street drugs like that required for prescription drugs.
- They may interact with other drugs or alcohol in unpredictable ways.
Current as of: February 20, 2015
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service navigator, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.