Smoking and drugs

Smoking and ‘recreational’ drugs are bad for you for numerous reasons. Recreational drugs are illegal and are best avoided at all costs. These products are often made on the black market, and can be mixed with a variety of other toxic chemicals – like rat poison, lead paint and talcum powder. There’s loads of useful information about the effects of drugs on the Internet. However, you can find a summary of some of the better-known drugs below.

Please think twice before you try any of these substances, as their long-term effects are not fully understood. When you smoke or take drugs your Clotting Factor may not be directly affected, but if you do take drugs you will be less aware of your safety and far more likely to injure yourself.

> Tobacco

How will smoking tobacco affect me?

Tobacco, from the tobacco plant, releases a mixture of chemicals and tar that are taken into the lungs when you smoke. Not only is smoking addictive, but it temporarily increases the heart rate and blood pressure, which, over time, can cause a heart attack and/or stroke. Fat deposits caused by smoking can narrow and block blood vessels, whilst respiratory illnesses such as emphysema and bronchitis are common. The tar that builds up and coats the lungs can slowly cause cancer.

> Cocaine

How will cocaine affect me?

Cocaine is illegal in the UK.

Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant. It's a stimulatory drug which temporarily makes people feel more awake, and gives them a sense of heightened awareness. However, cocaine can make people irritable, with most users experiencing sleeplessness and suspicion while some people have a feeling of paranoia after taking it. Cocaine can damage the brain, heart and nose as well as causing impotence. On top of these dangers, people with haemophilia are also at high risk of nosebleeds if they snort the drug. So, just don't do it.

> Marijuana (Weed or Pot)

What does marijuana do?

Marijuana is illegal in the UK.

Marijuana comes from the cannabis plant. Its most distinguishing feature is that it dulls the brain, slowing down distance judgement, coordination and the ability to concentrate. It can significantly impair senses (i.e. sight [the perception of colour], sound and smell), and may also increase risks of schizophrenia.

Over time, marijuana can lead to anxiety, amotivational syndrome (i.e. a reduced desire to engage in normal social activities and situations), depression and mental illness. There’s a risk that you may become addicted too.

How will smoking or eating marijuana affect me?

  • Smoking marijuana can cause some of the same respiratory problems that affect tobacco smokers, including a heightened risk of lung infections
  • Eating marijuana can be dangerous as it takes a while (typically 1-2 hours) to have any effect. However, when the effects do kick in, they can be far more potent than smoking an equivalent amount
  • Finally it is important to note that marijuana is illegal in the UK.

> Ketamine

How will ketamine affect me?

Ketamine is illegal in the UK.

Ketamine has pain-killing effects but also alters perception. Users will often experience hallucinations, and the typical out-of-body or detached experience. This is often followed by numbness, often in the limbs, and strange muscle movements. Users may also feel sick or throw up. Ketamine is dangerous at high doses as the user may become unconcious, or very disorientated, and can choke on their vomit.

> Amphetamines

How will amphetamines affect me?

Amphetamines are illegal in the UK.

Also known as speed, sulph, sulphate, uppers, wake ups, billy whizz, whizz, whites and base, users tend to feel more alert, energetic, confident, cheerful and less bored or tired. With high doses, people often experience a rapid flow of ideas and feel they have increased physical and mental powers.

Regular (meth)amphetamine use can lead to psychological dependence, and can have serious long-term consequences. Users may feel depressed, lethargic, lacking in energy and incredibly hungry without taking the drug. Heavy, regular use often leads to lack of sleep and food, and lowers resistance to disease.

Many heavy users become run down and alternate between periods of feeling good and energetic, then feeling depressed and low. Delusions, panic attacks, paranoia, a feeling of being 'wired' and possibly hallucinations may also follow. Some users experience violent mood swings and can become very aggressive.

> Mephedrone

How will mephedrone affect me?

Mephedrone is illegal in the UK.

Mephedrone is a relatively new drug that’s sold as a white powder, usually snorted in a similar way to cocaine, capsules and pills. Because mephedrone has only been around for a short amount of time, and was developed in backstreet laboratories with no human testing, the long-term effects of the drug are not well known. This drug has recently been made illegal.

The effects of mephedrone seem to be similar to ecstasy and cocaine; it makes people feel more alert, confident and talkative. The side effects of mephedrone are comparable to ecstasy and cocaine as well. They include excess sweating, headaches, heart palpitations and nausea. Excessive use of mephedrone is thought to lead to paranoia, hallucinations and serious panic attacks. It’s not yet known whether mephedrone is addictive or if this drug has any specific effects on people with haemophilia.

> Heroin

How will heroin affect me?

Heroin is illegal in the UK.

Heroin, from the opium poppy plant, is extremely addictive. It creates cravings for higher doses, gives people a false feeling of wellbeing, slows the ability to concentrate, and causes memory loss. Not only is it not advisable to try heroin for obvious reasons because it’s usually injected, it is strongly advised that people stay clear of it. Sharing needles is a massive health risk for anyone because of the risk of contracting blood borne diseases. If you have haemophilia, the impact can be more detrimental than for the general population.

> Ecstacy

How will ecstasy affect me?

Ecstasy is illegal in the UK.

Ecstasy is a chemically synthesised drug (3,4-methylenedioxy- methamphetamine) that’s normally found in tablet form (as a range of coloured pills with pictures/logos stamped into them), or as a powder. The effects of ecstasy include a burst of energy that makes people feel alert and ‘in tune’ with their surroundings, as sounds and colours seem more intense. People who take ecstasy are often talkative and feel a great ‘love’ for the people around them. These effects can take about half an hour to kick-in and tend to last between 3-6 hours, followed by a gradual comedown.

Ecstasy is illegal to have, give away or sell. The long-term effects of the drug have been linked to brain damage, causing depression, personality change and memory loss. It is unknown if this drug has any specific effects on people with haemophilia.

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(Last accessed on May 2017)