Morphine and Heroin

What is Morphine and Heroin?

Opioids are depressant drugs; this does not imply they make a user depressed, but rather they act on the central nervous system by slowing its activity and consequently slowing messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Opioids also impact receptors in the brain by blocking pain and inducing euphoric feelings. (1)

As opposed to some other countries, use of Heroin for any purpose in Australia is illegal. Morphine, when used legally, is a prescribed drug used to treat severe pain such as that endured after surgery, childbirth, or cancer treatment. Morphine is also often used illegally, or recreationally. (2)

Even short-term use of these drugs can quickly lead to dependence. Long term usage can lead to severe heart and lung issues, changes in brain function that may or may not be reversible, and an increased risk of bacterial infections, blood poisoning, and skin infections. (3)

Download the Morphine and Heroin Drug Fact Sheet


Common Street Names

Morphine: God’s Drug, M, Miss Emma, Monkey, Morpho, White Stuff (4)

Heroin: Black, Black Tar, Black Pearl, Black Stuff, Black Eagle, Boy, Brown, Brown Crystal, Brown Rhine, Brown Sugar, Brown Tape, China White, Dope, Dope, Dragon, The Dragon, H, He, Horse, Junk, Mexican Brown, Mexican Mud, Mexican Horse, Mud, Number 3, Number 4, Number 8, Sack, Scat, Skag, Skunk, Smack, Snow, Snowball, Tar, White, White Nurse, White Lady, White Horse, White Girl, White Boy, White Stuff (4)

Availability

Regular users of Heroin report that the availability, purity, and pricing of heroin in Australia has remained stable for several decades. However, the reality is that supply has been on a steady increase (Peacock et al. 2019b). Whilst the number of intercepted seizures at our borders has decreased (250 in 2009/10 vs. 184 in 2018/19), the weight of the drugs intercepted has increased by 141% (117.5 kgs in 2009/10 vs. 283.4 kilograms in 2018/19). (5)

Morphine whilst a legally prescriptible substance, is classified as a drug of dependence. As such, the supply of morphine to those that legitimately require it for treatment is stringently controlled. It is an offence for a medical professional to prescribe or supply morphine for a patient’s regular usage for a period longer than 2 months. There are exemptions to this where the patient meets certain criteria, such as old age, terminal illness, or where the user is/or has recently been an inpatient. However, even with these regulations in place, some of these prescriptions make their way onto the illicit drug market. (6)

In 2020, the main approach for arranging the purchase of any illicit or non-prescribed drugs by participants of the Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) in the previous 12 months was via social networking applications (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder) (75%), followed by face-to-face (67%). (7)

How Morphine and Heroin are used and how to identify them

Morphine can be taken orally as a tablet or liquid or injected. In some cases, morphine can be smoked. As the drug is both legally and illegally attainable, how it presents is also variable: (8)

  • Tablets are the most common delivery method for Morphine. These come in several sizes and colours, with ID numbers stamped on the external surface.
  • It may be packaged in pill bottles or blister strips if sourced legally, and small plastic sachets, balloons, or household aluminium foil if sourced illegally. Powdered or ground Morphine pills may also be packaged similarly.
  • Where the drug is being administered intravenously, it is found as a clear liquid packaged in a medical-type bottle. (9)

Heroin is usually injected, smoked, ingested orally, snorted, or “chased” (heating and inhaling the fumes).

  • Heroin usually comes in powder form which can be different colours based upon the level of refinement (which, and in what quantity of the other chemicals it has been “cut” with).
  • It is generally packaged in small plastic sachets, balloons, or household aluminium foil.

What are the symptoms of somebody who is under the influence?

The following symptoms are known behaviours associated with systematic drug use. They should not be used as definitive confirmation that a person is drug affected or struggling with substance abuse.

Users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst under the influence of Opioids:

  • Extreme feelings of comfortability and relaxedness. The term used for this physical and mental state is “the rush”.
  • An inability to feel pain, or reduced response to such stimuli.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • A slow heartbeat and breathing.
  • Dry mouth and teeth grinding
  • Reduced alertness
  • Low blood pressure (10)

The following symptoms are associated with long term use of Opioids:

Increasing prevalence and severity of withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug
Increased risk of overdose
Constipation
Loss of appetite
Reproductive issues in both sexes
Various Heart and Lung issues due to the increased risk of contracting infections and blood borne viruses.
Collapsed Veins
Skin abscesses (10)

What are the symptoms of somebody who is coming down?

Users may exhibit the following behaviours for up to 24 hours whilst coming down from a drug induced high:

  • Runny nose and weeping eyes
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Tiredness and yawning
  • Hot and cold flushes accompanied by bouts of profuse sweating and/or goosebumps.
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Loss of appetite (2)

Business Risks

Whilst under the influence of Opioids, many of the symptoms associated with the drugs consumption are likely to cause hazardous behaviours in the user. These actions may not only affect the user personally, but also; the safety of co-workers, a greater risk of damage to plant and equipment, and in the event of an accident, ongoing commercial impacts such as increased insurance premiums, costs associated with injury management, and the potential for costly legal action.

Quick facts about usage

  • Heroin and Morphine are part of the Opioid family of drugs. “Opioid drugs include opium, morphine and codeine. There are other human-made opioid drugs, such as oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone. These drugs can all be used legally, when prescribed for medical reasons, but heroin is not legal in Australia”. (10)
  • Opioids are depressant drugs; this does not imply they make a user depressed, but rather they act on the central nervous system by slowing its activity and consequently slowing messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Opioids also impact receptors in the brain by blocking pain and inducing euphoric feelings. (1)
  • Over the period 2007-2017, there was a 25% increase in hospitalisations due to Opioid poisoning. Of these hospitalisations, the principal drug in use was more likely to be a pharmaceutical-type Opioid, rather than Heroin. (5)
  • “Opioid use was responsible for 1.0% of the total burden of disease and injuries in Australia in 2015 and 37% of the total burden due to illicit drug use” (5)
  • For the last two decades, Opioids have been the predominant drug present in drug related deaths in Australia. Opioid-induced death was more likely to occur in regional areas, whereas heroin-induced death was more likely to occur in metropolitan locations.
  • Whilst deaths attributable to heroin fell markedly in the early 2000’s, they have been steadily increasing again since then to just below the peaks experienced in the late 1990’s. This upward trend is caused by the increase in supply, incremental increases in purity, and the aging demographic of long-term users who now suffer from physical and mental problems associated with chronic use of the drug. (5)

What does a Morphine or Heroin Overdose look like?

Overdoses caused by taking too much of a drug are common due to the strength of most Opioids, be they pharmaceutically attained or illegally so. Some signs of an Opioid-type drug overdose are:

  • Extremely low breathing and heart rate
  • Low body temperature
  • Extreme fatigue or an insatiable need to sleep.
  • Muscular spasms or twitching
  • Gurgling sounds emanating from the throat (choking on un-expelled vomit or saliva)
  • Low oxygen (visibly blue tinge to extremities)
  • Dilated pupils (10)

Detection Window

A Drug Detection Window is the period of time after a drugs ingestion by a user during which a drug or its metabolites remain present in the user’s system and can be detected through various drug testing protocols.

The “period of time” can vary depending on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount and frequency of use
  • Metabolic Rate
  • Body Mass
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Drug Tolerance Level
  • Urine Ph Level
  • Type of specimen, testing method, and Cut-off Level(11)
DrugUrineSweatOralBlood
Amphetamine1-3 days1-4 days12 hours2 days
Methamphetamine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
MDMA1-3 days1-4 days1 day1 day
THC1-30 days1-4 days12-24 hours2-3 days
Cocaine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
Heroin1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days

Help with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs—including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy—can affect a person’s ability to work safely. Whilst all workers have a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety is not compromised in the workplace, or may unduly affect their co-workers, there is also an onus on employers to reduce the risk associated with drug and alcohol impairment where an employee fails in their own duty of care. Among other measures, Employers should develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy to set forth the principles under which a safe and drug-free working environment is governed. Following are the state-based organisations who can help employers with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy.

New South Wales – Download PDF

Queensland – Download PDF

Victoria – Download PDF

Australian Capital Territory – Go to website

South Australia – Download Doc

Northern Territory – Go to website</a

Western Australia – Go to website

Tasmania – Download Doc

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented by APAC Diagnostic and is intended as an educational and research tool to aid businesses in creating safe and drug free workplaces.

Whilst all due care has been undertaken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the material contained on this website, the information is made available on the understanding that APAC Diagnostic is not providing professional or medical advice on any particular matter.

APAC Diagnostic does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.

About APAC Diagnostic

APAC Diagnostic sponsors the No Drugs at Work campaign and also offers fully customisable drug testing solutions for your workplace. These include, but are not limited to: Onsite testing, alcohol testing, and drug testing. Our devices are designed to be user friendly and non-invasive.

APAC Diagnostic works with a broad spectrum of businesses in both the private and government sectors. Should you require a quotation on larger commercial quantities of our products or a tailored service solution, please contact our team on +61 2 9986 2252 or via email and we will be pleased to help you in working to create a safe and drug free workplace.

Works Cited

  1. Better Health Channel. GHB. Better Health Channel. [Online] Victoria State Government, October 19, 2018. [Cited: March 18, 2021.] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/GHB.
  2. Your Room. GHB. Your Room. [Online] NSW State Government. [Cited: March 18, 2021.] https://yourroom.health.nsw.gov.au/a-z-of-drugs/Pages/GHB.aspx.
  3. Addiction Centre. Drug Street Names. Addiction Centre. [Online] Addiction Centre, December 2, 2020. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/drug-street-names/.
  4. Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. Illicit Drug Date Report 2018-19. Canberra : Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, 2018-19.
  5. ACIC 2020A. Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19. Canberra : ACIC, 2019.
  6. Department of Health. GHB. Drug Help. [Online] The Australian Government. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://campaigns.health.gov.au/drughelp/ghb.
  7. Australian Journal of General Practice. The assessment and management of gamma hydroxybutyrate use in general practice. Australian Journal of General Practice. [Online] Australian Journal of General Practice, January-February 2020. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2020/january-february/management-of-gamma-hydroxybutyrate.
  8. University of New South Wales. Newsroom. University of New South Wales. [Online] University of New South Wales, February 21, 2020. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/health/new-report-shows-illicit-drug-ghb-deaths-could-be-prevented.
  9. GHB use among Australians: Characteristics, use patterns and associated harm. Degenhardt, Louisa. Sydney : UNSW, 2002. 10.1016/S0376-8716(02)00017-0.
  10. The Treehouse. List Of Commonly Abused Benzodiazepines. The Treehouse. [Online] The Treehouse, May 08, 2020. [Cited: February 02, 2021.] https://www.treehouserehab.org/list-of-benzos/.
  11. Pennington Institute. GHB – Get the Facts. Pennington Institute. [Online] Pennington Institute, 2019. [Cited: March 23, 2021.] https://www.penington.org.au/resources/ghb/.
  12. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Overdose. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] February 16, 2017. https://adf.org.au/insights/overdose/.
  13. Urine Drug Screening: Practical Gude for Clinicians. Karen E. Moeller, Pharmd, BCPP, Kelly C. Lee. Pharmd, BCPP and Julie C. Kissack. Pharmd, BCPP. 1, s.l. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2008, Vol. 83. P66-76.
  14. Better Health Channel. Benzodiazepines. Better Health. [Online] October 2020. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/tranquillisers.
  15. Beyond Blue. Benzodiazepines. Beyond Blue. [Online] Beyond Blue. [Cited: January 21, 2021.] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/treatments-for-anxiety/medical-treatments-for-anxiety/benzodiazepines.
  16. Nichols, Sam. The Rise, Fall, and Explosive Return of Benzos to Australia. Vice. [Online] Vice, July 28, 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7j5qp/the-rise-fall-benzos-valium-xanax-to-australia.
  17. Peacock, A. Australian Drug Trends 2020: Key Findings from the National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney., 2020.
  18. Bounds, Connor G. and Nelson, Vivian L. Benzodiazepines. NCBI. [Online] STATPEARLS, January 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470159/.
  19. Amin, Nouran. Increasing Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Lab Roots. [Online] Lab Roots, December 18, 2018. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.labroots.com/trending/drug-discovery-and-development/13570/increasing-misuse-prescription-drugs.
  20. AIHW. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs in Australia. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  21. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016. Canberra : Australian Government, 2017. PHE 214.
  22. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2016. Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018.
  23. The Department of Health. Prevalence and patterns of psychostimulant use in Australia. The Department of Health. [Online] The Australian Government, April 2004. [Cited: February 22, 2021.] https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-2-pr1.
  24. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  25. —. What are some ways that cocaine changes the brain? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  26. New South Wales Police. Cocaine and the Law. NSW Police. [Online] [Cited: February 22, 2021.] https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/file/0013/2407/Cocaine.pdf.
  27. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Illicit drug use. Canberra : The Australian Government, 2020.
  28. Scott, Sophie, Timms, Penny and Lloyd, Mary. Cocaine use at new highs, increased vaping use in young people, report finds, but cigarette, alcohol consumption down. [Webpage Report] s.l. : ABC News, 2020.
  29. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Increase in cocaine prevalence, availability, and hospitalisations in Australia says new report. UNSW Sydney. [Online] National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, February 25, 2021. [Cited: February 26, 2021.] https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/news/increase-cocaine-prevalence-availability-and-hospitalisations-australia-says-new-report.
  30. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Illicit Drug Use. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  31. —. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Canberra : AIHW, 2020. 2205-507X.

THC (Cannabis)

What is THC (Cannabis)?

The most common forms of Cannabis used are:
Herbal Cannabis (Marijuana) – This is the dried leaves and flowers or buds of the Cannabis plant.
Cannabis Resin (Hashish) – This is the dried resin from the Cannabis plant.
Cannabis Oil (Hashish Oil) – This is the oil extracted from the resin of the Cannabis plant.
Synthetic Cannabinoids – Lab created substances that function similarly to the herbal variants, though are often much more potent.
Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and provides users with the feeling of being “high”. The potency of THC varies within the Cannabis plant, with the flowers, or buds containing a higher level of THC than the leaves. (1)

Download the THC (Cannabis) Drug Fact Sheet


Common Street Names

Mull, bud, dope, pot, grass, weed, head, Mary Jane, doobie, ganja, hashish, hash, hooch, bhang, 420, Ashes, Atshitshi, Aunt Mary, Bammy, Baby Bhang, Blanket, Blunt, Bo-Bo, Bobo Bush, Bomber, Boom, Bud, Broccoli, Cheeba, Chronic, Cripple, Dagga, Dinkie Dow, Ding, Dona Juana, Dona Juanita, Flower, Flower Power, Flower Tops, Gasper, Giggle Smoke, Giggle Weed, Good Giggles, Good Butt, Green, Herb, Hot Stick, Jane, Jay, Jolly Green, Jolly Green Giant, Joy Smoke, Joy Stick, MJ, Roach, Reefer, Skunk, Smoke, Trees (2)

Availability

According to participants in the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) 2020, Cannabis is “easy” or “very easy” to obtain. Users reported that purity and pricing had remained consistent in comparison to previous periods, as were the varieties available. (3)

In 2018-19 approximately 50% of national drug seizures involved Cannabis. Nearly 8 tonnes were seized in 2018-19 which represents a 20% increase on the amount seized 10 years prior. Similarly, detections at the Australian Border (1.8 tonnes in 2018-19) have also increased significantly. (3)

In 2020, the main approach for arranging the purchase of any illicit or non-prescribed drugs by participants of the Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) in the previous 12 months was via social networking applications (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder) (75%), followed by face-to-face (67%). The primary source was friends (65%), followed by dealers (17.9%) (4)

How Cannabis is used and how to identify it

Products containing THC are generally smoked, eaten, or can be vaporised:

  • Herbal Cannabis looks like dried herbal material and is generally green, brown, or grey in colour. The material is typically dried, then cut, and is often blended with tobacco.
  • Herbal Cannabis can also be baked into foods (the end-product is commonly called an “edible”) or boiled with water to create a tea. (5)
  • Hashish comes in small blocks of resinous material that are a reddish-brown to black colour. Similarly to Herbal Cannabis, the material is either smoked through a pipe, bong, or rolled cigarette, baked into foods, or boiled with water to create a tea.
  • Hashish Oil is a particularly potent extract of the Cannabis plant. Being a concentrate, it can contain up to 90% THC. Hash Oil ranges in colour from a gold/amber hue to dark brown and can either be translucent or opaque. The extract can be smoked, vaped, eaten, or applied topically. (6)

What are the symptoms of somebody who is under the influence?

The following symptoms are known behaviours associated with systematic drug use. Users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst under the influence:

  • Docility, clumsiness, slow reflexes, and conformity
  • Increased sociability, with euphoric feelings and bouts of spontaneous laughter and excitement
  • Blurred vision, enlarged pupils, and bloodshot eyes.
  • Increased appetite and dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat and breathing
  • Quiet, and reflective mood/thoughts
  • Anxiety and paranoia (7)
  • “Greening” – Nausea, dizziness, pale complexion, and sweating. More severe reactions may include “Blacking Out” and a temporary loss of memory. (1)

What are the symptoms of somebody who is experiencing withdrawal?

Symptoms associated with Cannabis product withdrawal are generally considered as relatively mild, and last between 1 and 2 weeks. The exception to this is sleeplessness, which may endure for much longer:

  • Cravings
  • Reduced appetite and sudden weight loss
  • Restless sleep
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Hot and cold flushes, and night sweats (8)
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

Business Risks

Whilst under the influence of cannabis or it’s derivatives, many of the symptoms associated with the drugs consumption are likely to cause hazardous behaviours in the user. These actions may not only affect the user personally, but also; the safety of co-workers, a greater risk of damage to plant and equipment, and in the event of an accident, ongoing commercial impacts such as increased insurance premiums, costs associated with injury management, and the potential for costly legal action.

Quick facts about usage

  • Cannabis is the mostly widely used illicit drug in Australia, with a 1.2% increase in usage between 2016 and 2019.
  • Cannabis was the 2nd most common drug type identified during toxicology exams on victims of transport accidents in 2016. (3)
  • Between 2016 and 2019, there was a marked uptick in the use of Cannabis by older Australians. In the age bracket 50-59, usage increased by 2.4% to 9.2%. Of those 60 plus in age, usage increased by 1% to 2.9%. (3)
  • In 2019, there were 206 Cannabinoid related deaths.
  • As reported in the AIHW 2020b Report, 37% of people who used Cannabis did so weekly, making Cannabis more frequently used than drugs like Ecstasy (6.7% of users do so weekly), and Cocaine (4.5% of users do so weekly). (3)

What does THC Overdose look like?

Fatal overdoses of THC are rare, however that does not mean overdosing is harmless. Serious physical or psychological effects can be experienced as a result of consuming too much THC (9):

  • “Greening” – Nausea, dizziness, pale complexion, and sweating. More severe reactions may include “Blacking Out” and a temporary loss of memory. (1)
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid breathing and elevated heart rate
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations and delusions(9)

What to do in the event of an overdose

If someone looks like they are in trouble and there is a suspicion that they may have been using drugs, it’s very important that they get medical help quickly. A quick response can save their life.

  1. Call an ambulance by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not required to involve the police unless they feel in danger.
  2. Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives. Find out if anyone at the scene knows CPR in case the person stops breathing.
  3. Ensure the person has enough air by keeping crowds back and opening windows or taking them outside. Loosen tight clothing.
  4. If the person is unconscious or wants to lie down, put them in the recovery position. This involves gently rolling them onto their side and slightly tilting their head back. This stops them choking if they vomit and allows them to breath easily.
  5. Provide ambulance officers with as much information as you can, such as how much of the drug was used, how long ago and any pre-existing medical conditions. If they have taken a drug that came in a packet, give the packet to the ambulance officers.
  6. If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they’re asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Doing something early could save a life.
  7. Update your Incident and/or Injury Register with all required details(10)

Detection Window

A Drug Detection Window is the period of time after a drugs ingestion by a user during which a drug or its metabolites remain present in the user’s system and can be detected through various drug testing protocols.

The “period of time” can vary depending on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount and frequency of use
  • Metabolic Rate
  • Body Mass
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Drug Tolerance Level
  • Urine Ph Level
  • Type of specimen, testing method, and Cut-off Level(13)
DrugUrineSweatOralBlood
Amphetamine1-3 days1-4 days12 hours2 days
Methamphetamine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
MDMA1-3 days1-4 days1 day1 day
THC1-30 days1-4 days12-24 hours2-3 days
Cocaine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
Heroin1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days

Help with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs—including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy—can affect a person’s ability to work safely. Whilst all workers have a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety is not compromised in the workplace, or may unduly affect their co-workers, there is also an onus on employers to reduce the risk associated with drug and alcohol impairment where an employee fails in their own duty of care. Among other measures, Employers should develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy to set forth the principles under which a safe and drug-free working environment is governed. Following are the state-based organisations who can help employers with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy.

New South Wales – Download PDF

Queensland – Download PDF

Victoria – Download PDF

Australian Capital Territory – Go to website

South Australia – Download Doc

Northern Territory – Go to website</a

Western Australia – Go to website

Tasmania – Download Doc

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented by APAC Diagnostic and is intended as an educational and research tool to aid businesses in creating safe and drug free workplaces.

Whilst all due care has been undertaken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the material contained on this website, the information is made available on the understanding that APAC Diagnostic is not providing professional or medical advice on any particular matter.

APAC Diagnostic does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.

About APAC Diagnostic

APAC Diagnostic sponsors the No Drugs at Work campaign and also offers fully customisable drug testing solutions for your workplace. These include, but are not limited to: an onsite test, alcohol urine test, and drug test. Our devices, such as our AS 4308 testing cups are designed to be user friendly and non-invasive.

APAC Diagnostic works with a broad spectrum of businesses in both the private and government sectors. Should you require a quotation on larger commercial quantities of our products or a tailored service solution, please contact our team on +61 2 9986 2252 or via email and we will be pleased to help you in working to create a safe and drug free workplace.

Works Cited

  1. Better Health Channel. GHB. Better Health Channel. [Online] Victoria State Government, October 19, 2018. [Cited: March 18, 2021.] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/GHB.
  2. Your Room. GHB. Your Room. [Online] NSW State Government. [Cited: March 18, 2021.] https://yourroom.health.nsw.gov.au/a-z-of-drugs/Pages/GHB.aspx.
  3. Addiction Centre. Drug Street Names. Addiction Centre. [Online] Addiction Centre, December 2, 2020. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/drug-street-names/.
  4. Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. Illicit Drug Date Report 2018-19. Canberra : Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, 2018-19.
  5. ACIC 2020A. Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19. Canberra : ACIC, 2019.
  6. Department of Health. GHB. Drug Help. [Online] The Australian Government. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://campaigns.health.gov.au/drughelp/ghb.
  7. Australian Journal of General Practice. The assessment and management of gamma hydroxybutyrate use in general practice. Australian Journal of General Practice. [Online] Australian Journal of General Practice, January-February 2020. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2020/january-february/management-of-gamma-hydroxybutyrate.
  8. University of New South Wales. Newsroom. University of New South Wales. [Online] University of New South Wales, February 21, 2020. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/health/new-report-shows-illicit-drug-ghb-deaths-could-be-prevented.
  9. GHB use among Australians: Characteristics, use patterns and associated harm. Degenhardt, Louisa. Sydney : UNSW, 2002. 10.1016/S0376-8716(02)00017-0.
  10. The Treehouse. List Of Commonly Abused Benzodiazepines. The Treehouse. [Online] The Treehouse, May 08, 2020. [Cited: February 02, 2021.] https://www.treehouserehab.org/list-of-benzos/.
  11. Pennington Institute. GHB – Get the Facts. Pennington Institute. [Online] Pennington Institute, 2019. [Cited: March 23, 2021.] https://www.penington.org.au/resources/ghb/.
  12. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Overdose. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] February 16, 2017. https://adf.org.au/insights/overdose/.
  13. Urine Drug Screening: Practical Gude for Clinicians. Karen E. Moeller, Pharmd, BCPP, Kelly C. Lee. Pharmd, BCPP and Julie C. Kissack. Pharmd, BCPP. 1, s.l. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2008, Vol. 83. P66-76.
  14. Better Health Channel. Benzodiazepines. Better Health. [Online] October 2020. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/tranquillisers.
  15. Beyond Blue. Benzodiazepines. Beyond Blue. [Online] Beyond Blue. [Cited: January 21, 2021.] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/treatments-for-anxiety/medical-treatments-for-anxiety/benzodiazepines.
  16. Nichols, Sam. The Rise, Fall, and Explosive Return of Benzos to Australia. Vice. [Online] Vice, July 28, 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7j5qp/the-rise-fall-benzos-valium-xanax-to-australia.
  17. Peacock, A. Australian Drug Trends 2020: Key Findings from the National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney., 2020.
  18. Bounds, Connor G. and Nelson, Vivian L. Benzodiazepines. NCBI. [Online] STATPEARLS, January 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470159/.
  19. Amin, Nouran. Increasing Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Lab Roots. [Online] Lab Roots, December 18, 2018. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.labroots.com/trending/drug-discovery-and-development/13570/increasing-misuse-prescription-drugs.
  20. AIHW. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs in Australia. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  21. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016. Canberra : Australian Government, 2017. PHE 214.
  22. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2016. Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018.
  23. The Department of Health. Prevalence and patterns of psychostimulant use in Australia. The Department of Health. [Online] The Australian Government, April 2004. [Cited: February 22, 2021.] https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-2-pr1.
  24. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  25. —. What are some ways that cocaine changes the brain? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  26. New South Wales Police. Cocaine and the Law. NSW Police. [Online] [Cited: February 22, 2021.] https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/file/0013/2407/Cocaine.pdf.
  27. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Illicit drug use. Canberra : The Australian Government, 2020.
  28. Scott, Sophie, Timms, Penny and Lloyd, Mary. Cocaine use at new highs, increased vaping use in young people, report finds, but cigarette, alcohol consumption down. [Webpage Report] s.l. : ABC News, 2020.
  29. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Increase in cocaine prevalence, availability, and hospitalisations in Australia says new report. UNSW Sydney. [Online] National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, February 25, 2021. [Cited: February 26, 2021.] https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/news/increase-cocaine-prevalence-availability-and-hospitalisations-australia-says-new-report.
  30. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Illicit Drug Use. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  31. —. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Canberra : AIHW, 2020. 2205-507X.

GHB

What is GHB?

Ingesting the drug does not cause depression in the user, rather, depressant-type drugs slow the central nervous system, resulting in the delay of messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Whilst Gamma-hydroxybutyrate is a naturally occurring chemical in the human body, the illegal variant of the drug most frequently used socially is a synthesised drug manufactured in illicit and backyard labs. (1)

In small doses, taking GHB results in the user feeling euphoric, relaxed, less socially inhibited, and more promiscuous. However, GHB is also well known as the “date rape drug”; GHB is frequently identified by law enforcement authorities as being involved in cases of drink spiking and subsequent sexual assaults. (1)

The long-term side effects of GHB are relatively unknown, other than that there is a risk of tolerance and dependence due to its effect on the reward pathways (i.e., a user requires more and more of the drug to achieve a satisfactory high). (2)

Download the GHB Drug Fact Sheet


Common Street Names

Blue Nitro, Fantasy, Grievous Bodily Harm, GBH, G, Gina, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid E, Date Rape Drug, Geeb, Georgia Home Boy, Goop, Liquid X, Scoop (3)

Availability

When analysing usage of GHB, it’s important to reference the two precursors that are often included in or substituted for GHB. Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD) are reported to be equally as dangerous as GHB, if not more so. Both substances metabolise to GHB after ingestion and produce identical effects. The amplified danger with 1,4-BD is concerned with the fact that it takes longer to take affect than GHB. In this situation, it is common for users to think the initial dose did not work, so they take more. This can result in overdose. GBL works faster than GHB and is commonly stronger.

Of the respondents who took part in the 2020 IDRS Interviews, one in ten reported recent GHB use within the previous 6 months. Users reported the fast action, low cost, ease of use, and ease of secretion as key factors in their choice to use the drug.

Over the last decade the number of GHB detections at the border increased 8,900 per cent, from 1 in 2009–10 to 90 in 2018/19. Over the same period, GBL detections increased from 44 to 445 (a 911 per cent rise). (4)

In 2020, the main approach for arranging the purchase of any illicit or non-prescribed drugs by participants of the Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) in the previous 12 months was via social networking applications (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder) (75%), followed by face-to-face (67%). (5)

How GHB is used and how to identify it

Users of GHB can be classed as Occasional, Binge, or Regular Users. With these different classifications comes different use patterns, different administration methods, and the use of different variants of the drug:

  • In most cases, GHB is sold as a clear or blue odourless liquid in small vials (often in small plastic fish-shaped soy sauce containers) and is normally taken orally in this form. (6)
  • GHB can also be found in white powder form. It may be packaged in small plastic sachets, balloons, or household aluminium foil if sourced. The powder may be dissolved in a carrier substance and injected, snorted, or administered anally. (7)
  • Generally, the onset of the effects of taking GHB are felt by the user within 15 minutes of ingestion, and last for approximately 3 hours. These timings vary.

What are the symptoms of somebody who is under the influence?

The following symptoms are known behaviours associated with systematic drug use. They should not be used as definitive confirmation that a person is drug affected or struggling with substance abuse.

The physical and mental effects of GHB vary greatly from person to person, as do the onset and duration of the effects after ingestion. Users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst affected by a modest dosage of GHB:

  • Increased energy, talkativeness and overt displays of exhilaration and euphoria
  • Increased sex drive and lower inhibitions
  • Drowsiness and heightened feelings of relaxation(1)

Where a high dosage of GHB has been ingested the following dangerous physical effects may be encountered:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hot and cold flushes, and heavy sweating which may lead to dehydration.
  • Tremors, dizziness, confusion, and loss of coordination
  • Rapid mood swings (from exhilaration and euphoria to agitation, irritability, and violent outbursts)
  • Tunnel vision, hallucinations, blackouts, and memory lapses
  • Seizures, difficulty or cessation of breathing, coma, and death (1)

What are the symptoms of withdrawal?

When it comes to withdrawal, or the effects of ceasing or lowering dosage, the mental and physical experience associated with abstinence may last up to 2 weeks or more. As with many drugs, these symptoms vary in intensity and longevity based upon the history of usage (i.e. higher dose or longer term users experience more intense side-effects, and for longer).

The most commonly observed symptoms of GHB withdrawal are:

  • Confusion, agitation, anxiety, and panic attacks
  • Sleeplessness and tiredness
  • Tremors, muscle cramps, and seizures
  • Hallucinations and psychosis
  • Hot and cold flushes, and heavy sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration (a side effect of profuse sweating, and vomiting)
  • Elevated heart rate and high blood pressure (6)

Business Risks

Whilst under the influence of Cocaine, many of the symptoms associated with the drugs consumption are likely to cause hazardous behaviours in the user. These actions may not only affect the user personally, but also; the safety of co-workers, a greater risk of damage to plant and equipment, and in the event of an accident, ongoing commercial impacts such as increased insurance premiums, costs associated with injury management, and the potential for costly legal action.

Quick facts about usage

  • Since 2015, over 3 tonnes of GHB have been seized globally. The Americas, Oceania and Europe accounted for 98 per cent of these seizures with the largest by weight quantities attributed to seizures in the US, Australia, and Norway, respectively. (4)
  • GHB and its precursors are regularly reported to be used in drink spiking events as the substance is difficult to detect prior to ingestion (clear liquid whose aroma and taste are mostly masked by the carrier liquid). The drugs dis-inhibiting and amnesiac effects put victims at risk of overdose, sexual assault, or theft. (2)
  • An analysis of 74 GHB related deaths between 2000 and 2019 found that 80% of the deaths occurred in the home as a result of accidental overdose, and a further 12% were as a result of trauma (motor vehicle accidents were by far the largest portion of these events). (8)
  • From the same report, the mean age of the GHB-related deaths was 31.5 years old and more than 70 per cent per cent of cases were male. More than 20 per cent of deaths were aged over 40, and ages ranged into the sixties” with more than half of these people being employed.(8)
  • GHB use is associated with significant risk to users due to the high rate of negative reactions reported by users. In an early study, 99% of users reported at least one negative side effect, with the mean number being 6.5 negative side-effects. These side-effects ranged from extended periods of vomiting, to unconsciousness, and problems regulating body temperature. (9)

What does a GHB Overdose look like?

When a person uses high or increasing quantities of the drug more frequently, the physical and mental effects of that usage is amplified. When the concentration within a user’s system reaches such a level that the body cannot eliminate the drug fast enough, an overdose occurs. (10)

In addition, as GHB is often interchanged with GBL or 1,4-BD without the user’s knowledge, the likelihood of an overdose occurring are significantly higher due to the differing onset of action characteristics of both substitutable drugs.

Signs of a potential GHB overdose are:

  • Dizziness, disorientation, and falling in and out of consciousness.
  • Agitation, irritability, and violent outbursts
  • Loss of memory
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Uncontrollable tremors, muscle cramping, and seizures
  • Breathing difficulties (11)

What to do in the event of an overdose

If someone looks like they are in trouble and there is a suspicion that they may have been using drugs, it’s very important that they get medical help quickly. A quick response can save their life.

  • Call an ambulance by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not required to involve the police unless they feel in danger.
  • Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives. Find out if anyone at the scene knows CPR in case the person stops breathing.
  • Ensure the person has enough air by keeping crowds back and opening windows or taking them outside. Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person is unconscious or wants to lie down, put them in the recovery position. This involves gently rolling them onto their side and slightly tilting their head back. This stops them choking if they vomit and allows them to breath easily.
  • Provide ambulance officers with as much information as you can, such as how much of the drug was used, how long ago and any pre-existing medical conditions. If they have taken a drug that came in a packet, give the packet to the ambulance officers.
  • If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they’re asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Doing something early could save a life.
  • Update your Incident and/or Injury Register with all required details(12)

Detection Window

A Drug Detection Window is the period of time after a drugs ingestion by a user during which a drug or its metabolites remain present in the user’s system and can be detected through various drug testing protocols.

The “period of time” can vary depending on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount and frequency of use
  • Metabolic Rate
  • Body Mass
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Drug Tolerance Level
  • Urine Ph Level
  • Type of specimen, testing method, and Cut-off Level(13)
DrugUrineSweatOralBlood
Amphetamine1-3 days1-4 days12 hours2 days
Methamphetamine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
MDMA1-3 days1-4 days1 day1 day
THC1-30 days1-4 days12-24 hours2-3 days
Cocaine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
Heroin1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days

Help with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs—including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy—can affect a person’s ability to work safely. Whilst all workers have a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety is not compromised in the workplace, or may unduly affect their co-workers, there is also an onus on employers to reduce the risk associated with drug and alcohol impairment where an employee fails in their own duty of care. Among other measures, Employers should develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy to set forth the principles under which a safe and drug-free working environment is governed. Following are the state-based organisations who can help employers with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy.

New South Wales – Download PDF

Queensland – Download PDF

Victoria – Download PDF

Australian Capital Territory – Go to website

South Australia – Download Doc

Northern Territory – Go to website</a

Western Australia – Go to website

Tasmania – Download Doc

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented by APAC Diagnostic and is intended as an educational and research tool to aid businesses in creating safe and drug free workplaces.

Whilst all due care has been undertaken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the material contained on this website, the information is made available on the understanding that APAC Diagnostic is not providing professional or medical advice on any particular matter.

APAC Diagnostic does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.

About APAC Diagnostic

APAC Diagnostic sponsors the No Drugs at Work campaign and also offers fully customisable drug testing solutions for your workplace. These include, but are not limited to: an onsite test, alcohol urine test, and drug test. Our devices are designed to be user friendly and non-invasive.

APAC Diagnostic works with a broad spectrum of businesses in both the private and government sectors. Should you require a quotation on larger commercial quantities of our products or a tailored service solution, please contact our team on +61 2 9986 2252 or via email and we will be pleased to help you in working to create a safe and drug free workplace.

Works Cited

  1. Better Health Channel. GHB. Better Health Channel. [Online] Victoria State Government, October 19, 2018. [Cited: March 18, 2021.] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/GHB.
  2. Your Room. GHB. Your Room. [Online] NSW State Government. [Cited: March 18, 2021.] https://yourroom.health.nsw.gov.au/a-z-of-drugs/Pages/GHB.aspx.
  3. Addiction Centre. Drug Street Names. Addiction Centre. [Online] Addiction Centre, December 2, 2020. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/drug-street-names/.
  4. Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. Illicit Drug Date Report 2018-19. Canberra : Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, 2018-19.
  5. ACIC 2020A. Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19. Canberra : ACIC, 2019.
  6. Department of Health. GHB. Drug Help. [Online] The Australian Government. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://campaigns.health.gov.au/drughelp/ghb.
  7. Australian Journal of General Practice. The assessment and management of gamma hydroxybutyrate use in general practice. Australian Journal of General Practice. [Online] Australian Journal of General Practice, January-February 2020. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2020/january-february/management-of-gamma-hydroxybutyrate.
  8. University of New South Wales. Newsroom. University of New South Wales. [Online] University of New South Wales, February 21, 2020. [Cited: March 19, 2021.] https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/health/new-report-shows-illicit-drug-ghb-deaths-could-be-prevented.
  9. GHB use among Australians: Characteristics, use patterns and associated harm. Degenhardt, Louisa. Sydney : UNSW, 2002. 10.1016/S0376-8716(02)00017-0.
  10. The Treehouse. List Of Commonly Abused Benzodiazepines. The Treehouse. [Online] The Treehouse, May 08, 2020. [Cited: February 02, 2021.] https://www.treehouserehab.org/list-of-benzos/.
  11. Pennington Institute. GHB – Get the Facts. Pennington Institute. [Online] Pennington Institute, 2019. [Cited: March 23, 2021.] https://www.penington.org.au/resources/ghb/.
  12. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Overdose. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] February 16, 2017. https://adf.org.au/insights/overdose/.
  13. Urine Drug Screening: Practical Gude for Clinicians. Karen E. Moeller, Pharmd, BCPP, Kelly C. Lee. Pharmd, BCPP and Julie C. Kissack. Pharmd, BCPP. 1, s.l. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2008, Vol. 83. P66-76.
  14. Better Health Channel. Benzodiazepines. Better Health. [Online] October 2020. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/tranquillisers.
  15. Beyond Blue. Benzodiazepines. Beyond Blue. [Online] Beyond Blue. [Cited: January 21, 2021.] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/treatments-for-anxiety/medical-treatments-for-anxiety/benzodiazepines.
  16. Nichols, Sam. The Rise, Fall, and Explosive Return of Benzos to Australia. Vice. [Online] Vice, July 28, 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7j5qp/the-rise-fall-benzos-valium-xanax-to-australia.
  17. Peacock, A. Australian Drug Trends 2020: Key Findings from the National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney., 2020.
  18. Bounds, Connor G. and Nelson, Vivian L. Benzodiazepines. NCBI. [Online] STATPEARLS, January 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470159/.
  19. Amin, Nouran. Increasing Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Lab Roots. [Online] Lab Roots, December 18, 2018. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.labroots.com/trending/drug-discovery-and-development/13570/increasing-misuse-prescription-drugs.
  20. AIHW. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs in Australia. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  21. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016. Canberra : Australian Government, 2017. PHE 214.
  22. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2016. Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018.
  23. The Department of Health. Prevalence and patterns of psychostimulant use in Australia. The Department of Health. [Online] The Australian Government, April 2004. [Cited: February 22, 2021.] https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-2-pr1.
  24. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  25. —. What are some ways that cocaine changes the brain? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  26. New South Wales Police. Cocaine and the Law. NSW Police. [Online] [Cited: February 22, 2021.] https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/file/0013/2407/Cocaine.pdf.
  27. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Illicit drug use. Canberra : The Australian Government, 2020.
  28. Scott, Sophie, Timms, Penny and Lloyd, Mary. Cocaine use at new highs, increased vaping use in young people, report finds, but cigarette, alcohol consumption down. [Webpage Report] s.l. : ABC News, 2020.
  29. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Increase in cocaine prevalence, availability, and hospitalisations in Australia says new report. UNSW Sydney. [Online] National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, February 25, 2021. [Cited: February 26, 2021.] https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/news/increase-cocaine-prevalence-availability-and-hospitalisations-australia-says-new-report.
  30. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Illicit Drug Use. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  31. —. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Canberra : AIHW, 2020. 2205-507X.

Benzodiazepines

What are Benzodiazepines?

When prescribed by a medical professional, they are intended to treat stress, anxiety, and sleeping disorders. When abused recreationally, users commonly report feelings of euphoria (a “high”), or when the drug is combined with stimulant type drugs (cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy) it is used as an aid to ‘come down’. (1)

Irrespective of the use type (legal or illegal) Benzodiazepines are highly addictive. For this reason, usage for medical conditions is generally limited to courses administered over days, or a few weeks at most. Long-term misuse of the drug can cause mental impairment, and result in several negative physical conditions. In addition, persistent use may also result in addiction and the associated problems with withdrawal when users attempt to stop using the drug. (1)

The Benzodiazepine class of drugs in Australia include the following pharmaceutical preparations: Temazepam, Nitrazepam, Diazepam, Oxazepam and Alprazolam. Less common variants include: Bromazepam, Clobazam, Clonazepam, Flunitrazepam, Lorazepam, and Triazolam. (2)

Download the Benzodiazepine Drug Fact Sheet


Common Street Names

Xannies, Bars, Xanbars, Planks, Bricks, Upjohn, School Bus, K, K-pin, Super Valium, Pin, Benzos, Downers, Nerve Pills, Tranks, V’s, Yellow V’s, Blue V’s, Downers, Tranks, Sleep Aways, Howards, Old Joes (3)

Availability

Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed to patients by physicians or other licensed medical practitioners for legitimate health concerns. An unfortunate side effect of this is that some of these prescriptions make their way onto the illicit drug market. For this reason, federal authorities have put various mechanisms in place to discourage “doctor shopping” and on selling. Whilst this has made it harder for illegal users to attain drugs in this fashion, it has led to an increase in the availability of illegally produced benzodiazepines. These illegal versions of the drug can be liquid or powdered benzodiazepines that have been smuggled into the country, cut, and then reformed in a pill press. The look and quality, as well as what other chemicals they have been cut with varies. Beyond these reconstituted versions, there has also been an emergence of “grey market” variants. These drugs have very similar effects on the body after ingestion, however they regularly have quite different chemical compositions to the brand or generic formulations.(4)

The importation of prescription pharmaceuticals is primarily undertaken by individuals for personal use, not for criminal endeavours such as supply and distribution. During the period 2018–19 there were a total of 1,156 pharmaceutical detections at Australian Border facilities, an increase of 98% since 2009–10 (585 detections). The majority (79%) of these detections were for benzodiazepines (912 in 2018–19). (5)

In 2020, the main approach for arranging the purchase of any illicit or non-prescribed drugs by participants of the Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) in the previous 12 months was via social networking applications (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder) (75%), followed by face-to-face (67%). (5)

How Benzodiazepines are used and how to identify them

Benzodiazepines are commonly administered orally and intravenously, though they may also be administered rectally, intranasally, intramuscularly, and smoked. (6) As the drug is both legally and illegally attainable, how it presents is also variable:

  • It may be packaged in pill bottles or blister strips if sourced legally, and small plastic sachets, balloons, or household aluminium foil if sourced illegally.
  • As there is a wide range of generic and brand formulations of the drug available on the market, the type (capsule or tablet), colour, shape, and size of the pills is equally diverse. This is also true when the drug is in powder and liquid form. (7)
  • As the drug may be medically prescribed, or available illegally (reconstituted or “grey market”), it can be difficult to identify specific visual characteristics that distinguish legal from illegal variants.

What are the symptoms of somebody who is under the influence?

The following symptoms are known behaviours associated with systematic drug use. They should not be used as definitive confirmation that a person is drug affected or struggling with substance abuse.

Users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst under the influence of Benzodiazepines:

  • Reduced alertness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slower reaction times
  • Lower inhibitions
  • Impulsive behaviour and risk taking (2)
  • Severe mood swings and aggression
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping and tiredness
  • Inability to think critically
  • Memory lapses (1)

What are the symptoms of withdrawal?

When it comes to withdrawal, or the effects of ceasing or lowering dosage, some people suffer discomfort for only a few weeks, while others experience ongoing severe symptoms that can persist for many months. Regardless of the length of time involved, the range and severity of symptoms are many, and often intense, so much so that the experience overwhelms all facets of the user’s life. (2)

  • anxiousness
  • difficulty sleeping and tiredness
  • feelings of sensory overload (noise, light, smell, and touch)
  • muscle spasms, shaking, and skeletal pain
  • headache, dizziness, or migraines
  • feelings of hopelessness and generally depressive state
  • difficulty concentrating, and memory loss
  • loss of appetite, and nausea
  • seizures and convulsions may occur where usage has suddenly and completely stopped. (2)

Business Risks

Whilst under the influence of benzodiazepines, many of the symptoms associated with the drugs consumption are likely to cause hazardous behaviours in the user. These actions may not only affect the user personally, but also; the safety of co-workers, a greater risk of damage to plant and equipment, and in the event of an accident, ongoing commercial impacts such as increased insurance premiums, costs associated with injury management, and the potential for costly legal action.

Quick facts about usage

  • Benzodiazepines are nervous system depressants commonly prescribed to treat medical conditions such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, epilepsy, and as a sedative prior to a medical procedure, but are also abused non-medically in isolation, and together with other drugs or substances to amplify or counteract the effects of those other drugs or substances. (1)
  • In Australia, pharmaceutical drugs that are most often subject to non-medical use are opioids (painkillers/analgesics) and sedatives (sleeping/anti-anxiety medications). Within the “sedatives” category, Benzodiazepines comprise the largest group of drugs in this class. Between 2009 and 2018, the number of deaths where benzodiazepines were present rose by 70%. (8)
  • As per the 2019 NDSHS (2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey), the proportion of people who recently used pharmaceuticals for non-medical purposes was similar for those living in Major cities (4.3%) and Remote and very remote areas (4.8%) (8)
  • According to the 2016 NDSHS, 1.6% of Australians aged 14 and over reported having a tranquiliser for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months. (9)
  • Benzodiazepines is consistently ranked in the top two drugs present in drug induced deaths for both males and females. This is also the case for both male and female subjects in the age range of 25-55. This statistic confirms that drug abuse can affect employees from any given industry, and at all levels of an organisation. (10)

What does a Benzodiazepine Overdose look like?

When a person uses high or increasing quantities of the drug more frequently, the physical and mental effects of that usage is amplified. When the concentration within a user’s system reaches such a level that the body cannot eliminate the drug fast enough, an overdose occurs. (11)

  • blurred or double vision, or temporary loss of sight
  • feelings of sadness, confusion, or hopelessness
  • sleepiness, dizziness, and an inability to move co-ordinately
  • a low body temperature indicated by blueing of the lips and fingernails
  • difficulty breathing escalating to the cessation of breathing altogether
  • an abnormally high heart rate
  • difficulty speaking or slurring of speech
  • nausea
  • trembling or shaking (11)

What to do in the event of an overdose

If someone looks like they are in trouble and there is a suspicion that they may have been using drugs, it’s very important that they get medical help quickly. A quick response can save their life.

  • Call an ambulance by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not required to involve the police unless they feel in danger.
  • Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives. Find out if anyone at the scene knows CPR in case the person stops breathing.
  • Ensure the person has enough air by keeping crowds back and opening windows or taking them outside. Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person is unconscious or wants to lie down, put them in the recovery position. This involves gently rolling them onto their side and slightly tilting their head back. This stops them choking if they vomit and allows them to breath easily.
  • Provide ambulance officers with as much information as you can, such as how much of the drug was used, how long ago and any pre-existing medical conditions. If they have taken a drug that came in a packet, give the packet to the ambulance officers.
  • If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they’re asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Doing something early could save a life.
  • Update your Incident and/or Injury Register with all required details(12)

Detection Window

A Drug Detection Window is the period of time after a drugs ingestion by a user during which a drug or its metabolites remain present in the user’s system and can be detected through various drug testing protocols.

The “period of time” can vary depending on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount and frequency of use
  • Metabolic Rate
  • Body Mass
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Drug Tolerance Level
  • Urine Ph Level
  • Type of specimen, testing method, and Cut-off Level(13)
DrugUrineSweatOralBlood
Amphetamine1-3 days1-4 days12 hours2 days
Methamphetamine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
MDMA1-3 days1-4 days1 day1 day
THC1-30 days1-4 days12-24 hours2-3 days
Cocaine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
Heroin1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days

 


Help with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs—including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy—can affect a person’s ability to work safely. Whilst all workers have a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety is not compromised in the workplace, or may unduly affect their co-workers, there is also an onus on employers to reduce the risk associated with drug and alcohol impairment where an employee fails in their own duty of care. Among other measures, Employers should develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy to set forth the principles under which a safe and drug-free working environment is governed. Following are the state-based organisations who can help employers with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy.

New South Wales – Download PDF

Queensland – Download PDF

Victoria – Download PDF

Australian Capital Territory – Go to website

South Australia – Australian Capital Territory – Download Doc

Northern Territory – Go to website

Western Australia – Go to website

Tasmania – Download Doc

Works Cited

  1. Better Health Channel. Benzodiazepines. Better Health. [Online] October 2020. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/tranquillisers.
  2. Beyond Blue. Benzodiazepines. Beyond Blue. [Online] Beyond Blue. [Cited: January 21, 2021.] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/treatments-for-anxiety/medical-treatments-for-anxiety/benzodiazepines.
  3. Addiction Centre. Drug Street Names. Addiction Centre. [Online] Addiction Centre, December 2, 2020. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/drug-street-names/.
  4. Nichols, Sam. The Rise, Fall, and Explosive Return of Benzos to Australia. Vice. [Online] Vice, July 28, 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7j5qp/the-rise-fall-benzos-valium-xanax-to-australia.
  5. ACIC 2020A. Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19. Canberra : ACIC, 2019.
  6. Bounds, Connor G. and Nelson, Vivian L. Benzodiazepines. NCBI. [Online] STATPEARLS, January 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470159/.
  7. Amin, Nouran. Increasing Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Lab Roots. [Online] Lab Roots, December 18, 2018. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.labroots.com/trending/drug-discovery-and-development/13570/increasing-misuse-prescription-drugs.
  8. AIHW. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs in Australia. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  9. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016. Canberra : Australian Government, 2017. PHE 214.
  10. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2016. Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018.
  11. The Treehouse. List Of Commonly Abused Benzodiazepines. The Treehouse. [Online] The Treehouse, May 08, 2020. [Cited: February 02, 2021.] https://www.treehouserehab.org/list-of-benzos/.
  12. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Overdose. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] February 16, 2017. https://adf.org.au/insights/overdose/.
  13. Urine Drug Screening: Practical Gude for Clinicians. Karen E. Moeller, Pharmd, BCPP, Kelly C. Lee. Pharmd, BCPP and Julie C. Kissack. Pharmd, BCPP. 1, s.l. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2008, Vol. 83. P66-76.
  14. Peacock, A. Australian Drug Trends 2019: Key findings from the National Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, 2019.
  15. —. Australian Drug Trends 2020: Key Findings from the National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney., 2020.
  16. ABS. 1248.0 – Australian Standard Classification of Drugs of Concern, 2011 . Australian Bureau of Staistics. [Online] July 6, 2011. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/1248.0.
  17. AIHW. Australian burden of disease study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019.
  18. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Amphetamine Fact Sheet. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] January 11, 2021. [Cited: January 19, 2021.] https://cdn.adf.org.au/media/documents/Amphetamine-Fact-Sheet-FINAL.pdf.
  19. Better Health. Amphetamines. Better Health . [Online] Victoria State Government, November 2018. [Cited: January 19, 2021.] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/amphetamines.
  20. American Addiction Centers. Amphetamine Overdose. American Addiction Centers. [Online] American Addiction Centers, August 19, 2020. [Cited: January 19, 2021.] https://www.recovery.org/amphetamine/overdose/.

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented by APAC Diagnostic and is intended as an educational and research tool to aid businesses in creating safe and drug free workplaces.

Whilst all due care has been undertaken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the material contained on this website, the information is made available on the understanding that APAC Diagnostic is not providing professional or medical advice on any particular matter.

APAC Diagnostic does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.

About APAC Diagnostic

APAC Diagnostic sponsors the No Drugs at Work campaign and also offers fully customisable drug testing solutions for your workplace. These include, but are not limited to: Onsite testing, alcohol testing, and drug testing. Our devices are designed to be user friendly and non-invasive.

APAC Diagnostic works with a broad spectrum of businesses in both the private and government sectors. Should you require a quotation on larger commercial quantities of our products or a tailored service solution, please contact our team on +61 2 9986 2252 or via email and we will be pleased to help you in working to create a safe and drug free workplace.


Cocaine

What is Cocaine?

Long-term abuse of Cocaine can result in the user experiencing a wide range of serious mental and physical health conditions. These effects are not only derived from the drug itself, but also from the method of administration. Cocaine is an extremely addictive drug. Often, during times of abstinence, heavy users may be drawn back to using the drug due to the craving the pleasurable memories associated with past use. (2)

Studies have shown that repeated Cocaine use has profound effects on several parts of the human brain. These range from effects on the reward pathways (i.e., a user requires more and more of the drug to achieve a satisfactory high) to sensitisation to Cocaine toxicity (a condition whereby less of the drug is required to trigger the onset of anxiety, convulsions, etc). (3)

Download the Cocaine Drug Fact Sheet


Common Street Names

Coke, blow, flake, candy, nose candy, Pepsi, coca puffs, “C”, Charlie, toot, gold dust, AKA, Vitamin C, snow, girl, glass, the real thing, white lady, o.k., okey doke. (4)

Availability

In 2019, the 2nd most common illicit drug used in the previous 12 months was Cocaine (4.2%). Between 2016 and 2019, the percentage of people who used Cocaine increased from 2.5% to 4.2%. (5) This was the highest rate of usage in Australia within the last two decades (6). This can be partly explained by the abundance of supply, and relative ease of attaining Cocaine as opposed to Ecstasy or other stimulants. However, due to cost of Cocaine, and the use pattern, frequency of use was moderately low with many users reporting usage only once or twice per year. (7)

In 2020, the main approach for arranging the purchase of any illicit or non-prescribed drugs by participants of the Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) in the previous 12 months was via social networking applications (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder) (75%), followed by face-to-face (67%). (8)

How Cocaine is used and how to identify it

Users of Cocaine can be classed as Occasional, Binge, or Regular Users. With these different classifications comes different use patterns, different administration methods, and use of different variants of the drug:

  • Cocaine Hydrochloride is a white/off-white coloured powder, and the most commonly found variant of the drug – it is usually sniffed through the nose (snorting), mixed as a drink, or dissolved in water and injected.
  • Crack Cocaine is created by removing the Hydrochloride through a chemical. Crack Cocaine is also commonly referred to as ‘Free Base’ Cocaine – ‘free base’ is predominantly smoked or dissolved and injected.
  • Cocaine is normally sold in ‘points’ (0.1g) or grams and is commonly packaged in small plastic sachets, balloons, or household aluminium.

What are the symptoms of somebody who is under the influence?

The following symptoms are known behaviours associated with systematic drug use. They should not be used as definitive confirmation that a person is drug affected or struggling with substance abuse.

Users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst under the influence of Cocaine:

  • Increased energy, talkativeness and overt displays of exhilaration and euphoria
  • Increased sex drive and lower inhibitions
  • Overconfidence and risk-taking. The user may feel stronger, smarter, or invincible, and feels little pain or fatigue.
  • Restlessness and problems sleeping
  • Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure after an initial reduction in both. (4)

Long term users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst under the influence of Cocaine:

  • A runny nose, watery eyes, blocked sinus – Symptoms synonymous with a cold.
  • Damage to the nose and nasal passage, which may manifest as regular nose bleeds.
  • Increased blood pressure, along with the associated risks of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Loss of appetite and drastic weight loss
  • Black-outs, fainting, and seizures
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low sex drive
  • Hyper-sensitivity of the skin
  • Violent, aggressive, or irrational behaviour
  • Paranoia, confusion, and hallucinations. This combination of symptoms is often referred to as “Cocaine Psychosis”. (4)

What are the symptoms of withdrawal?

When it comes to withdrawal, or the effects of ceasing or lowering dosage, the mental and physical affects are at their most severe approximately 24 hours after last taking the substance. As with many drugs, these symptoms vary in intensity and longevity based upon the history of usage (i.e. heavier or longer term users experience more intense side-effects).

The most commonly observed symptoms of Cocaine withdrawal are:

  • A profound sense of unease or dissatisfaction with life
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue and depression
  • Difficulty sleeping, followed by “crashing” or prolonged periods of deep sleep.
  • An insatiable craving for more Cocaine(7)

Business Risks

Whilst under the influence of Cocaine, many of the symptoms associated with the drugs consumption are likely to cause hazardous behaviours in the user. These actions may not only affect the user personally, but also; the safety of co-workers, a greater risk of damage to plant and equipment, and in the event of an accident, ongoing commercial impacts such as increased insurance premiums, costs associated with injury management, and the potential for costly legal action.

Quick facts about usage

  • In 2019, the most common illicit drugs used in the previous 12 months was cannabis (11.6%), followed by cocaine (4.2%) and ecstasy (3.0%). Between 2016 and 2019 the percentage of people who had used Cocaine increased by 1.7% (from 2.5% to 4.2%). (9)
  • At 11.4%, Cocaine ranks third in popularity on the list of drugs that make up the illicit drug use burden.
  • The median age of people who used cocaine was 25 years of age in 2001. This rose to 28 years of age in 2019. (10)
  • “Cocaine use among people in their 20s was at its highest level in 2019. Much of the rise in cocaine use among people in this age group occurred between 2016 and 2019—from 4.3% in 2001 to 6.9% in 2016 and up to 12.0% in 2019.” (10)
  • “Employed people were more likely than unemployed people to use cocaine in the last 12 months (6.2% compared with 3.7%)”.(10)

What does a Cocaine Overdose look like?

When a person uses high or increasing quantities of the drug more frequently, the physical and mental effects of that usage is amplified. When the concentration within a user’s system reaches such a level that the body cannot eliminate the drug fast enough, an overdose occurs. (11)

  • irrational behaviour
  • agitation and hostility
  • paranoid delusions and hallucinations
  • fever and fits
  • unconsciousness
  • nausea and/or vomiting.
  • anxiety
  • chest pains
  • tremors
  • breathing difficulties (7)

What to do in the event of an overdose

If someone looks like they are in trouble and there is a suspicion that they may have been using drugs, it’s very important that they get medical help quickly. A quick response can save their life.

  • Call an ambulance by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not required to involve the police unless they feel in danger.
  • Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives. Find out if anyone at the scene knows CPR in case the person stops breathing.
  • Ensure the person has enough air by keeping crowds back and opening windows or taking them outside. Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person is unconscious or wants to lie down, put them in the recovery position. This involves gently rolling them onto their side and slightly tilting their head back. This stops them choking if they vomit and allows them to breath easily.
  • Provide ambulance officers with as much information as you can, such as how much of the drug was used, how long ago and any pre-existing medical conditions. If they have taken a drug that came in a packet, give the packet to the ambulance officers.
  • If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they’re asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Doing something early could save a life.
  • Update your Incident and/or Injury Register with all required details(12)

Detection Window

A Drug Detection Window is the period of time after a drugs ingestion by a user during which a drug or its metabolites remain present in the user’s system and can be detected through various drug testing protocols.

The “period of time” can vary depending on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount and frequency of use
  • Metabolic Rate
  • Body Mass
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Drug Tolerance Level
  • Urine Ph Level
  • Type of specimen, testing method, and Cut-off Level(13)
DrugUrineSweatOralBlood
Amphetamine1-3 days1-4 days12 hours2 days
Methamphetamine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
MDMA1-3 days1-4 days1 day1 day
THC1-30 days1-4 days12-24 hours2-3 days
Cocaine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
Heroin1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days

Help with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs—including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy—can affect a person’s ability to work safely. Whilst all workers have a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety is not compromised in the workplace, or may unduly affect their co-workers, there is also an onus on employers to reduce the risk associated with drug and alcohol impairment where an employee fails in their own duty of care. Among other measures, Employers should develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy to set forth the principles under which a safe and drug-free working environment is governed. Following are the state-based organisations who can help employers with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy.

New South Wales – Download PDF

Queensland – Download PDF

Victoria – Download PDF

Australian Capital Territory – Go to website

South Australia – Download Doc

Northern Territory – Go to website

Western Australia – Go to website

Tasmania – Download Doc


Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented by APAC Diagnostic and is intended as an educational and research tool to aid businesses in creating safe and drug free workplaces.

Whilst all due care has been undertaken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the material contained on this website, the information is made available on the understanding that APAC Diagnostic is not providing professional or medical advice on any particular matter.

APAC Diagnostic does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.

About APAC Diagnostic

APAC Diagnostic sponsors the No Drugs at Work campaign and also offers fully customisable drug testing solutions for your workplace. These include, but are not limited to: Onsite testing, alcohol testing, and drug testing. Our devices are designed to be user friendly and non-invasive.

APAC Diagnostic works with a broad spectrum of businesses in both the private and government sectors. Should you require a quotation on larger commercial quantities of our products or a tailored service solution, please contact our team on +61 2 9986 2252 or via email and we will be pleased to help you in working to create a safe and drug free workplace.

Works Cited

  1. The Department of Health. Prevalence and patterns of psychostimulant use in Australia. The Department of Health. [Online] The Australian Government, April 2004. [Cited: February 22, 2021.] https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-2-pr1.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  3. —. What are some ways that cocaine changes the brain? Massachusetts : National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016.
  4. New South Wales Police. Cocaine and the Law. NSW Police. [Online] [Cited: February 22, 2021.] https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/file/0013/2407/Cocaine.pdf.
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Illicit drug use. Canberra : The Australian Government, 2020.
  6. Scott, Sophie, Timms, Penny and Lloyd, Mary. Cocaine use at new highs, increased vaping use in young people, report finds, but cigarette, alcohol consumption down. [Webpage Report] s.l. : ABC News, 2020.
  7. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Increase in cocaine prevalence, availability, and hospitalisations in Australia says new report. UNSW Sydney. [Online] National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, February 25, 2021. [Cited: February 26, 2021.] https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/news/increase-cocaine-prevalence-availability-and-hospitalisations-australia-says-new-report.
  8. ACIC 2020A. Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19. Canberra : ACIC, 2019.
  9. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Illicit Drug Use. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  10. —. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Canberra : AIHW, 2020. 2205-507X.
  11. The Treehouse. List Of Commonly Abused Benzodiazepines. The Treehouse. [Online] The Treehouse, May 08, 2020. [Cited: February 02, 2021.] https://www.treehouserehab.org/list-of-benzos/.
  12. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Overdose. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] February 16, 2017. https://adf.org.au/insights/overdose/.
  13. Urine Drug Screening: Practical Gude for Clinicians. Karen E. Moeller, Pharmd, BCPP, Kelly C. Lee. Pharmd, BCPP and Julie C. Kissack. Pharmd, BCPP. 1, s.l. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2008, Vol. 83. P66-76.
  14. Better Health Channel. Benzodiazepines. Better Health. [Online] October 2020. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/tranquillisers.
  15. Beyond Blue. Benzodiazepines. Beyond Blue. [Online] Beyond Blue. [Cited: January 21, 2021.] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/treatments-for-anxiety/medical-treatments-for-anxiety/benzodiazepines.
  16. Addiction Centre. Drug Street Names. Addiction Centre. [Online] Addiction Centre, December 2, 2020. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/drug-street-names/.
  17. Nichols, Sam. The Rise, Fall, and Explosive Return of Benzos to Australia. Vice. [Online] Vice, July 28, 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7j5qp/the-rise-fall-benzos-valium-xanax-to-australia.
  18. Peacock, A. Australian Drug Trends 2020: Key Findings from the National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney., 2020.
  19. Bounds, Connor G. and Nelson, Vivian L. Benzodiazepines. NCBI. [Online] STATPEARLS, January 2020. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470159/.
  20. Amin, Nouran. Increasing Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Lab Roots. [Online] Lab Roots, December 18, 2018. [Cited: January 28, 2021.] https://www.labroots.com/trending/drug-discovery-and-development/13570/increasing-misuse-prescription-drugs.
  21. AIHW. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs in Australia. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  22. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016. Canberra : Australian Government, 2017. PHE 214.
  23. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2016. Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018.

Amphetamines

What are Amphetamines?

Long-term misuse of amphetamines can lead to serious problems, including changes to the brain, cardiovascular damage, malnutrition and anxiety and paranoia. (1)

The Amphetamine class of drugs, or Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) includes amphetamine, methylamphetamine, dexamphetamine, amphetamine analogues and amphetamines not elsewhere classified. (1)

Download the Amphetamines Drug Fact Sheet


Common Street Names

Addies, Bennies, Black Beauties, Crosses, Crank, Goey, Hearts, LA Turnaround, Louee, Rack, Speed, Truck Drivers, Up, Uppers, Whiz. (2)

Availability

Amphetamines are readily available in Australia. Findings from the 2019 Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) showed that the majority of people who inject drugs and use these types of stimulants report that it is ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to obtain. (3)

In 2020, the main approach for arranging the purchase of any illicit or non-prescribed drugs by participants of the Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) in the previous 12 months was via social networking applications (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Grindr, Tinder) (75%), followed by face-to-face (67%). (4)

In 2018–19, just over a third of national illicit drug seizures (38,250 or 34.0%) were for ATS. The number of national ATS seizures has increased by 263% over the last decade. Of this, 32,021 were for amphetamines specifically, which is close to 84% of the total number. (5)

How Amphetamines are used and how to identify them

Amphetamines are generally ingested by the user through an act of swallowing, injecting, smoking, or snorting. As the drug is both legally and illegally attainable, how it presents is also variable:

  • It may be packaged in pill bottles or blister strips if sourced legally, and small plastic sachets, balloons, or household aluminium foil if sourced illegally.
  • In powder or crystal form, it may have a white, off-white, or a pinkish hue.
  • Stronger variants of the drug are available as a paste, putty, or oily liquid.
  • Tablets or capsules are a common delivery method for Amphetamines. These come in a wide range of sizes and colours, with various markings either stamped or printed on the external surface. As the drug may be medically prescribed, or available illegally, it can be difficult to identify specific visual characteristics that distinguish legal from illegal variants. (6)

What are the symptoms of somebody who is under the influence?

The following symptoms are known behaviours associated with systematic drug use. They should not be used as definitive confirmation that a person is drug affected or struggling with substance abuse.

Users may exhibit the following behaviours whilst under the influence of ATS’:

  • Abnormally violent behaviour, and/or an increase in the severity or frequency of aggressive behaviour.
  • Snorting amphetamines can damage the nasal passage, thus regular nose bleeds in a user may be an indicator of persistent use.
  • Drastic and/or sudden changes in demeanour (happiness and confidence)
  • Talking more and displaying boundless energy, then suddenly crashing
  • Enlarged pupils and dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat and breathing
  • Teeth grinding
  • A reduced appetite
  • Increased sex drive and lower inhibitions

What are the symptoms of somebody who is coming down?

Users may exhibit the following behaviours for up to 4 days whilst coming down from a drug induced high:

  • Restless sleep and exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, and confusion
  • Twitching and muscle aches
  • Fluctuating temperatures
  • Nausea
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Using a depressant drug such as alcohol, Benzodiazepines, or cannabis to help with the come down effects may result in a cycle of dependence on both types of drugs. (7)

Business Risks

Whilst under the influence of amphetamines, many of the symptoms associated with the drugs consumption are likely to cause hazardous behaviours in the user. These actions may not only affect the user personally, but also; the safety of co-workers, a greater risk of damage to plant and equipment, and in the event of an accident, ongoing commercial impacts such as increased insurance premiums, costs associated with injury management, and the potential for costly legal action.

Quick facts about usage

  • Amphetamines are used for therapeutic purposes to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but are also abused non-medically.
  • Amphetamines refers to a broad category of substances. According to the Australian Standard Classification of Drugs of Concern (ASCDC), this includes amphetamine, methylamphetamine, dexamphetamine, amphetamine analogues and amphetamines not elsewhere classified. (8)
  • Amphetamine use was responsible for 0.6% of the total burden of disease and injuries in Australia in 2015 and 21% of the total burden due to illicit drug use. (9)
  • Of the burden due to amphetamine use, drug use disorder (excluding alcohol) contributed 28%, poisoning 5% and suicide and self-inflicted injuries 4.3%. Other contributors to the burden due to amphetamine use included road traffic injuries—motorcyclists (3.2%) and road traffic injuries—motor vehicle occupants (2.5%). This illustrates that not only may your employees be at risk at work, but also during their commute to and from the place of employment. (9)
  • There was little variation in the recent use of meth/amphetamine for those living in the lowest socioeconomic areas compared with those living in the highest socioeconomic areas (1.4% and 1.5%, respectively). This finding was still apparent after adjusting for differences in age. This statistic confirms that drug abuse can affect employees from any given industry, and at all levels of an organisation. (9)

What does an Amphetamine Overdose look like?

Amphetamines speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Some signs of a stimulant type drug overdose are:

  • Hallucinations and paranoid delusions
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Hyperthermia
  • Delirium
  • Rapid breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Dehydration and urine retention
  • Rapid speech and increased resonance
  • Unnecessary repetition of tasks
  • Compulsive behaviour
  • Restlessness
  • Dilated pupils that react slowly to light
  • Repetitive movement, pacing, or muscle tremors. (10)

What to do in the event of an overdose

If someone looks like they are in trouble and there is a suspicion that they may have been using drugs, it’s very important that they get medical help quickly. A quick response can save their life.

  • Call an ambulance by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not required to involve the police unless they feel in danger.
  • Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives. Find out if anyone at the scene knows CPR in case the person stops breathing.
  • Ensure the person has enough air by keeping crowds back and opening windows or taking them outside. Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person is unconscious or wants to lie down, put them in the recovery position. This involves gently rolling them onto their side and slightly tilting their head back. This stops them choking if they vomit and allows them to breath easily.
  • Provide ambulance officers with as much information as you can, such as how much of the drug was used, how long ago and any pre-existing medical conditions. If they have taken a drug that came in a packet, give the packet to the ambulance officers.
  • If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they’re asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Doing something early could save a life.
  • Update your Incident and/or Injury Register with all required details(11)

Detection Window

A Drug Detection Window is the period of time after a drugs ingestion by a user during which a drug or its metabolites remain present in the user’s system and can be detected through various drug testing protocols.

The “period of time” can vary depending on several factors including but not limited to:

  • Amount and frequency of use
  • Metabolic Rate
  • Body Mass
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall Health
  • Drug Tolerance Level
  • Urine Ph Level
  • Type of specimen, testing method, and Cut-off Level(12)
DrugUrineSweatOralBlood
Amphetamine1-3 days1-4 days12 hours2 days
Methamphetamine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
MDMA1-3 days1-4 days1 day1 day
THC1-30 days1-4 days12-24 hours2-3 days
Cocaine1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days
Heroin1-3 days1-4 days1 day2 days

Help with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy

Alcohol and drugs—including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy—can affect a person’s ability to work safely. Whilst all workers have a personal responsibility to ensure their own health and safety is not compromised in the workplace, or may unduly affect their co-workers, there is also an onus on employers to reduce the risk associated with drug and alcohol impairment where an employee fails in their own duty of care. Among other measures, Employers should develop a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy to set forth the principles under which a safe and drug-free working environment is governed. Following are the state-based organisations who can help employers with developing a Workplace Alcohol and Drug Policy.

New South Wales – Download

Queensland – Download

Victoria – Download

Australian Capital Territory – Visit

South Australia – Download

Northern Territory – Visit

Western Australia – Download

Tasmania – Download


Works Cited

  1. AIHW. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs in Australia. Canberra : AIHW, 2020.
  2. Addiction Centre. Drug Street Names. Addiction Centre. [Online] Addiction Centre, December 2, 2020. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/drug-street-names/.
  3. Peacock, A. Australian Drug Trends 2019: Key findings from the National Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, 2019.
  4. —. Australian Drug Trends 2020: Key Findings from the National Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) Interviews. Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney., 2020.
  5. ACIC 2020A. Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19. Canberra : ACIC, 2019.
  6. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Amphetamine Fact Sheet. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. [Online] January 11, 2021. [Cited: January 19, 2021.] https://cdn.adf.org.au/media/documents/Amphetamine-Fact-Sheet-FINAL.pdf.
  7. Better Health. Amphetamines. Better Health . [Online] Victoria State Government, November 2018. [Cited: January 19, 2021.] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/amphetamines.
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  10. American Addiction Centers. Amphetamine Overdose. American Addiction Centers. [Online] American Addiction Centers, August 19, 2020. [Cited: January 19, 2021.] https://www.recovery.org/amphetamine/overdose/.
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  12. Urine Drug Screening: Practical Gude for Clinicians. Karen E. Moeller, Pharmd, BCPP, Kelly C. Lee. Pharmd, BCPP and Julie C. Kissack. Pharmd, BCPP. 1, s.l. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2008, Vol. 83. P66-76.

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented by APAC Diagnostic and is intended as an educational and research tool to aid businesses in creating safe and drug free workplaces.

Whilst all due care has been undertaken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the material contained on this website, the information is made available on the understanding that APAC Diagnostic is not providing professional or medical advice on any particular matter.

APAC Diagnostic does not accept any legal liability or responsibility for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.


About APAC Diagnostic

APAC Diagnostic sponsors the No Drugs at Work campaign and also offers fully customisable drug testing solutions for your workplace. These include, but are not limited to: Onsite testing, alcohol testing, and drug testing. Our devices are designed to be user friendly and non-invasive.

APAC Diagnostic works with a broad spectrum of businesses in both the private and government sectors. Should you require a quotation on larger commercial quantities of our products or a tailored service solution, please contact our team on +61 2 9986 2252 or via email and we will be pleased to help you in working to create a safe and drug free workplace.