Acid is a powerful hallucinogenic drug that alters your perception of the outside world.
Acid can turn you into a gibbering, giggling wreck, make the world seem like a magical place, and in one sublime experience, even make Cardiff City's football ground look like the San Siro stadium.
During the course of a trip, the entire universe can turn wibbly, colours become deeply intense, everyday objects take on bizarre and sometimes wonderful new forms, and all your senses can become confused and distorted.
Usually coming in the form of small squares of paper or tiny pellets , acid can take anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours to take effect, with trips usually lasting around 7 to 12 hours. There's no real way of knowing how strong a tab is or how it will affect you.
Because of the unexpected and random effects of taking acid, it's always best to take it somewhere you feel comfortable and safe, preferably surrounded by friends you trust.
If you're out clubbing, make sure you've got somewhere to go to afterwards as it can be quite a challenge trying to work out a night bus timetable when all you can see is a set of oscillating black blobs.
Side effects: Expect to make a substantial arse of yourself after taking acid. You will quite probably bellow out loud at the sight of a teacup, converse with the trees, talk complete gibberish for hours on end and annoy just about anyone within a ten yard radius.
If you're trying to impress a new girlfriend on a first date, we'd recommend you give it a very wide berth indeed.
Some people may experience flashbacks days or even weeks after taking acid, where it can feel like they're reliving certain elements of their trip.
Health risks: There are no known physical side effects associated with acid use, nor is there any evidence of brain damage. There are some psychological risks, however, particularly for those with a history of mental problems.
Avoid taking acid if you're already feeling pissed off as this could result in a bad trip. People have been known to harm themselves under the influence of acid, so be sure to have responsible friends around you.
Be careful not to take more acid when you're waiting to come up - some acid can take a long time to take effect and it's rare to get duff gear.
Detection periods: LSD can be detected in the urine up to 2-3 days after use at common levels.
Delivering a quick and euphoric high, a blast of top quality coke can make you feel like you've just scored the winning goal in a FA Cup Final.
Confidence soars through the roof, the heart thumps out a drum'n'bass crescendo, while you feel like you're on top of the world. Such is the strength of the drug, even the Grimthorpe Working Men's Club feels like a happening hotspot after a hefty noseful.
Unfortunately the hit doesn't last very long (around 20-30 minutes) and this encourages repeated - and wallet-crushing - doses. Smoking cocaine can give you a stronger hit, but effects can wear off in as little as 10 minutes.
Side effects: You may well feel like a million dollars on coke, but to those around you, you may well appear as an arrogant, loud asshole with your incessant gibbering and insincere waffling.
Crack is made from cocaine, baking soda and water.
Usually smoked through a water pipe (sometimes in cigarettes or joints), it produces a rapid, ultra-intense high which lasts for about 2 minutes, followed by a pleasurable buzz which usually lasts around 20 minutes before a long low or crash. Because the hit is so strong, some people get hooked on the sensation and end up blowing all their cash trying to repeat the high, or overdosing.
Crack has increased in popularity hugely in recent years, with both clubbers and professionals regularly taking the drug (figures from the Home Office's British Crime Survey reveal that one in 30 British men aged between 19 and 24 has used crack - twice as many as in 1996 and four times as many as in 1993).
Despite media claims to the contrary, addiction is very rarely instant
Side effects: Because of the addictive nature of crack, there is a strong link to crime as users seek to fund their habit. Some people can get very aggressive on crack or lose control and put themselves at risk.
The huge mood swings created by the drug can bring about paranoia and depression. High doses can result in psychosis, confusion, irritability, fear, paranoia, hallucinations and aggressive anti social behaviour. Not a drug if you're trying to impress a new date, then.
Crystal meth is an intensive stimulant with disinhibitory qualities
Once very big amongst some of the US gay community but now spreading fast into mainstream culture, meth was originally used by bikers and truckers to stay awake on long journeys.
Crystal is made of highly volatile, toxic substances (based on such chemical "precursors" as methylamine and amyl amine) that are melded in differing combinations, forming what some have described as a "mix of laundry detergent and lighter fluid."
The drug can either be snorted or injected, or in its crystal form 'ice' smoked in a pipe, and brings on a feeling of exhilaration and a sharpening of focus. Smoking ice results in an instantaneous dose of almost pure drug to the brain, giving a huge rush followed by a feeling of euphoria for anything from 2-16 hours.
For some this could result in obsessive cleaning or tidying, but for many the biggest bonus is the sense of sexual liberation which can result in mad, abandoned sex for hours - sometimes days - on end.
Side effects: The biggest risk is from the increased chance of HIV infection through unprotected and uninhibited sex while under the influence of meth. The liberating nature of the drug means that often safe sex is discarded while sexual activity increases greatly. It has been reported in the States that in almost half of the new AIDS cases, crystal meth has been a factor.
Smoking ice results in body temperature rises and rapid cardiac and respiratory rates developing as the blood pressure increases. The drug can lead to hallucinations, paranoia, and bizarre, aggressive and psychotic behaviour.
Health risks: The effects and dependence potential of meth are similar to that of amphetamine misuse, although as the stuff is a lot stronger, the dangers involved are greater with an increased chance of overdose.
Overuse can bring on paranoia, short term memory loss, wild rages and mood swings as well as damage to your immune system. As far as we know, it is not physically addictive, although many have quickly developed a very strong psychological and damaging dependence for the drug.
Overdosing can lead to severe convulsions followed by circulatory and respiratory collapse, coma and death. Some people have died after taking small doses.
The mix of chemicals, method of use and the user's lifestyle can do serious damage to the mouth ('Meth mouth'), with teeth rotting to the gum line as a result of the meth vapours.
Ecstasy is a powerful stimulant and mood changer that speeds up your body system and alters your perception of the world.
It can make you feel both uplifted and relaxed and feeling very happy, usually with an overwhelming urge to dance. The effects of E vary considerably from one person to the next, depending on who you're with, where you are and how you're feeling at the time.
The effects of E can be felt for anything up to 8 hours, although this time reduces considerably for regular users.
Within 20 minutes to an hour after taking ecstasy, your heart may go into bangin' gabba overdrive and you might feel a bit hot and sticky while your mouth goes dry. Sometimes, you'll come up with a huge exhilarating rush and possibly experience hallucinations.
During the two hours when the effects are their strongest, even the sound of a cutlery tray being dropped will sound unbearably danceable, you'll be walking around with a ludicrous grin on your face and even a set of Millwall fans will appear hugely huggable.Lights will seem brighter and colours more intense. You'll feel firmly locked into the groove on the dancefloor and feel happy and confident. These feelings will slowly diminish as the drugs wear down.
Because E removes all feelings of tiredness and thirst it is vital that you keep yourself hydrated if you're dancing non-stop. Try to drink around a pint of fluid an hour (not alcohol) to replace fluids lost by dancing - isotonic drinks are particularly good. If you're not dancing then you don't need to drink so much as it can be harmful
Heroin is a powerful and addictive substance that can be sold in the form of a powder, pill, or a liquid. It's growth in the UK is of epidemic proportions, with children as young as 10-14 years old experimenting with the drug and an estimated 3-500,000 addicts.
Heroin can be smoked with tobacco, heated on tin foil ('chasing the dragon'), snorted or injected, either just below the skin's surface ('skin popping') or directly into a vein ('mainlining'). The majority of UK addicts inject the drug.
Initially most users experience a sleepy, pleasant euphoria and total relief from stress and anxiety as the drug enters the system. This then makes way for a feeling of calm and relaxation.
Heroin is not instantly addictive, but with regular usage the body adjusts and tolerance sets in, until no pleasurable feelings are felt at all. By then the body needs the drug just to stay 'normal' and keep off the pains of withdrawal.
Some heroin addicts - often the younger ones - find themselves getting involved with crime and prostitution to feed their habit, and this sometimes ends up by them being exploited by others.
No matter what 'cool' imagery the media tries to portray about the drug, the stark truth is that heroin addiction is a hard, ugly addiction for most people and one that has wrecked many, many lives - although it is important to note that not all heroin addicts fit the media stereotype of the smacked up loser bumbling around in the gutter.
Some manage to live relatively normal lives with their addiction, although this can be dependent on securing access to a clean supply.
Side effects: Heroin can turn some people into mumbling, introspective bores, unable to get a grip on what's going on around them. Female users may have interrupted periods. Heroin suppresses the appetite and dehydrates the body and this can lead to users not eating properly and their health subsequently suffering.
Someone withdrawing from an opiate habit (clucking, or going cold turkey) is going to have a really grim time. Hot and cold sweats, nausea, diarrhoea and confusion are accompanied by an intense craving to take more of the drug to make them well again.
Heroin withdrawal is not physically dangerous, but will almost certainly be very unpleasant.
Health risks: Most of the dangers of heroin use come from using shared or dirty needles which can considerably increase your chances of contracting diseases like HIV (see HIV: preventing infection), hepatitis, septicaemia, gangrene and pneumonia as well as developing body sores and ulcers.
Overdosing can lead to death. There have also been many deaths from people buying street heroin that is either too pure or cut with dangerous substances.
The harvesting season is between September and November. After picking, mushrooms are usually eaten raw, cooked, made into a drink, or dried for later consumption. They are usually sold loose in bags or crushed into tablets.
The effects of mushrooms are very similar to acid, although some report a more 'natural' high sometimes with a feeling of being detached. Small doses can bring on excitement and euphoria, while bigger doses an bring on shape and colour distortions and vivid hallucinations.
Side effects: Much the same as acid. Some users complain of nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pains. Like all hallucinogens, how good or bad your trip will be can be affected by who you are with, where you are and how you're feeling at the time. Some people also report flashbacks. It is important to be in a safe environment as some people can panic and get confused.
Like all drugs, the exact nature and strength of the effects doesn't just depend on the amount of mushrooms taken: the body weight, tolerance levels, and general physical health and mental state of the user all have parts to play.
Health risks: Little research has been done into the long-term effects of mushrooms. There are no serious problems such as dependence and withdrawal associated with the drug, and as the body quickly develops tolerance, continuous use is unlikely. The hallucinatory effects of the drug can make people at risk of accidents, while the biggest risk is of people mistakenly picking and consuming poisonous mushrooms - make sure you know what you're taking. If in any doubt, don't take them.