Looking for Answers?

Do you have any questions about illicit drugs and/or drug prevention? Perhaps you'll find the answer here. If you don't, send us your question and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you require medical advice or immediate help, please contact your health practitioner or visit the help lines page for a list of telephone numbers of national and provincial/territorial organizations ready to help you.


Q: What are the effects of drugs (heroin, crack, meth, marijuana, etc.) on the body/brain?

A: The effects of drugs are wide ranging and often unpredictable. Some users can feel euphoric, energetic or relaxed, while other users may feel anxious or fearful. How a person feels after using a drug does not guarantee they will feel the same way the next time they use it. The way a person feels after taking a drug depends on many factors including:

  • age;
  • weight;
  • dose;
  • how the drug is used;
  • mood;
  • expectations; and,
  • environment.

More detailed information on specific illicit drugs, short-term and long-term effects and health risks is available in the Drug Facts section.

Q: My friend is using drugs. Where can he/she get help?

A: It's important to know that there's lots of help out there, even if you just have questions that need answering. Getting help almost always improves a situation, no matter how serious it may be. Our Get Help section provides a list of help lines available near you.

Q: How can I tell if my sister/brother is using drugs?

A: If you think that your sister/brother might have a problem with drugs, here are some signs you can look for.

He or she may:

  • stop spending time with certain friends, if the friends don't like to use drugs.
  • choose new friends because the friends like to use drugs with them.
  • stop doing activities or be bored with what used to be their favourite activity.
  • feel like they need to use drugs before school, or while they are at school.

For more information on:

  • detecting signs of illicit drug use, visit our Help a Friend page;
  • the effects of various illicit drugs visit Drug Facts; and,
  • how to contact someone to talk to on these issues, check out our list of help lines and other resources.

Q: Is marijuana legal or not?

A: Marijuana/marihuana is regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and this means that unless a person is authorized under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), all activities with marijuana, e.g., possession, trafficking, importation, exportation, and production of marijuana are prohibited and therefore subject to a criminal offence.

Need more information on the use of marijuana for medical purposes? Visit the Medical Use of Marihuana section of the Health Canada Web site.

Q: How many different types of drugs are there?

A: There are many different types of drugs, but there are three main categories of drugs that are used illegally. Some drugs belong to more than one category.

  • Hallucinogens cause users to see, hear or feel things that do not exist. Examples of hallucinogens include cannabis (marijuana, hash and hash oil) and psilocybin (magic mushrooms).
  • Stimulants are drugs that speed up the body's central nervous system. Examples of stimulants include cocaine (including crack), ecstasy (which is also a hallucinogen) and methamphetamine (including crystal meth).
  • Depressants are drugs that slow down the body's central nervous system. Examples of depressants include heroin and GHB.

Q: How long do drugs stay in your system/body?

A: There are many factors that determine the time it takes for a drug (or drugs) to be eliminated. For some drugs, it can vary a lot from person to person, and it can even vary in the same person.

Every time drugs (legal or illegal) enter the body, four main things happen to that drug.

The drug gets:

  • absorbed into the blood stream;
  • distributed to all or certain parts of the body;
  • metabolized or biotransformed (the body processes the drug so it can be eliminated from the body); and,eliminated from the body (occurs mainly through the urine (kidneys) for most drugs, but also occurs through the feces. Elimination can also occur through the lungs, breast milk, tears, saliva and sweat, but these routes are not considered main routes).

Together these four steps determine how long drugs stay in the body. The length of the entire process depends on a number of different factors such as:

  • the drug used;
  • how the drug is taken (i.e. smoked, snorted, injected, swallowed);
  • quantity of the drug taken (dose);
  • if the drug is used in combination with another drug;
  • genetics;
  • health;
  • age; and,
  • if the stomach is empty or full.

Note: If you require medical or personal advice, we recommend that you contact your health practitioner or visit the help lines page to obtain a list of national and provincial/territorial organizations ready to help you.