📣🚫💉Stay away from drugs!

Dear NU community,

Drug use — including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), inhalants and other synthetic drugs —among youth is on the rise.

Different drugs pose different dangers. Drug use can lead to dependence and addiction, injury and accidents, health problems, sleep issues, and more. The risks are real and very dangerous.

Addiction experts have been assessing the danger of psychoactive substances for the last 15 years. Scientific papers and classification systems rank over 300 different drugs in order of the most harmful and the most dangerous for health. The usual suspects are always there: alcohol, tobacco, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine are still among the most dangerous addictive substances in the world. But recently, synthetic cannabinoids, such as ‘Spice’ and prescription painkillers, like Oxycodone, have also made the list. Here, we look at some dangerous substances we come across.

1. Alcohol

Despite being freely available and legal in the country, alcohol remains one of the most destructive substances. Alcohol misuse causes three million deaths every year and plays a role in more than 200 diseases and injuries. There are about 20,000 people in Kazakhstan with a diagnosis of "drug addiction" and about 100,000 people with alcohol addiction. One of the reasons alcohol is consistently cited as dangerous is not only due to its widespread use, but also because of the harm it inflicts on family, friends and colleagues. When weighing up the damage alcohol can do to life expectancy, health, relationships and society.

2. Heroin

Whether injected or smoked, heroin induces a sudden high that is extremely addictive. It’s known to be very well tolerated, which can quickly lead to dependence with dangerous consequences. Heroin’s effect on the central nervous system means it slows down a person’s brain function and breathing which can be life-threatening in high doses. Long-term heroin use can cause collapsed veins, blood vessel damage, lung problems and infertility. If you’re struggling with heroin addiction, it’s important that you speak to trained medical professionals who can help you withdraw safely.

3. Methamphetamine

Known as crank, glass, ice and crystal meth, methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that, when smoked, produces a similar high to crack cocaine. Persistent use changes the brain’s pleasure control system and can result in users experiencing cognitive and emotional problems.

4. Oxycodone

Opioids are substances derived from the poppy plant that reduce pain and increase pleasure. Oxycodone is a synthetic version of an opioid, usually prescribed as a painkiller for severe or chronic pain. While it is highly effective for pain relief, if you start to rely on it daily, it can become chronically addictive. Opioid addiction and related deaths have risen sharply in recent years with approximately 130 patients dying from an overdose each day in the United States.

5. Ketamine

Once used as a horse tranquilizer, ketamine is a powerful anaesthetic that became a popular club drug in the 1990s. It can be safely used to treat pain, anxiety and depression in the correct doses. But if someone takes too much or self-medicates with ketamine, it carries a high number of risks. These include high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, confusion and liver dysfunction. With its ability to alter a person’s state of mind, ketamine addiction can cause people to make irrational decisions that put them in danger or at risk of death.

6. Marijuana

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance and its use is growing. Increasingly, young people today do not consider marijuana use a risky behavior. But there are real risks for people who use marijuana. Today’s marijuana is stronger than ever before. People can and do become addicted to marijuana.

Marijuana use can have negative and long-term effects: 1) Brain health: Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss. These IQ points do not come back, even after quitting marijuana. 2) Mental health: Studies link marijuana use to depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychotic episodes. 3) Athletic Performance: Research shows that marijuana affects timing, movement, and coordination, which can harm athletic performance. 4) Driving: People who drive under the influence of marijuana can experience dangerous effects: slower reactions, lane weaving, decreased coordination, and difficulty reacting to signals and sounds on the road. 5) Baby’s health and development: Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause fetal growth restriction, premature birth, stillbirth, and problems with brain development, resulting in hyperactivity and poor cognitive function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals from marijuana can also be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk, further impacting a child’s healthy development. 6) Daily life: Using marijuana can affect performance and how well people do in life. Research shows that people who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship problems, worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, and reduced life satisfaction.


According to the Student Code of Conduct, use, possession, manufacture, or distribution of alcoholic beverages or of marijuana, narcotics, or other controlled substances, except as expressly permitted by law and/or University policy, are considered as a non-academic misconduct and subject to disciplinary action.

Illegal manufacture, processing, acquisition, storage, transportation for sale, shipment or sale of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, and their analogues is a criminal offense in Kazakhstan and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of five to ten years with confiscation of property.

What you can do:

1. Community support is extremely important to prevent, treat, rehabilitate and accept those addicted to substances. Help break the stigma and promote faster recovery.

2. Be a good role model and empower people to deal with life challenges to buffer substance abuse.

3. Be a messenger - provide evidence based information on the negative effects of substance abuse.

We would appreciate your attention to this problem and your cooperation in supporting awareness and keeping our community safe and healthy.

Sincerely yours,

University Healthcare Department