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What is a drug of dependence?

Information about what an illegal drug is.

A ‘drug of dependence’ is defined in s. 4 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) (the Drugs Act). The types of drugs are:

  • any form of the drugs listed in Parts 1 and 3 of Schedule 11 to the Drugs Act, including substances that are made from these substances,
  • the fresh or dried parts of the plants (such as cannabis) specified in Part 2 of Schedule 11.

Regulations prescribing additional substances as drugs of dependence can be made for up to 12 months. These allow new substances to be prohibited quickly if they are deemed harmful.

See Schedule 11—Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic).


A certificate signed by an analyst or botanist is sufficient evidence of the identity of the substance.

Common 'street names'

Drugs of dependence have many common or ‘street’ names, but the Drugs Act lists their scientific name. Since street names do not precisely describe particular substances, drugs can be substituted or mixed with other drugs of dependence. For example, ‘ecstasy’ is a common name for methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA), but a substance a person calls ecstasy may contain ketamine, amphetamine, caffeine and ephedrine as well as MDMA (or no MDMA at all).

Some of the more common drug names and their scientific names are:

  • Angel dust, PCP—phencyclidine (also known as phenylcyclohexylpiperidine)
  • Cocaine, C, snow, blow—cocaine
  • Speed, wiz, go-ee—amphetamine or methylamphetamine
  • Ice or crystal meth—amphetamine or methylamphetamine (usually more potent forms than speed)
  • Ecstasy, E, MDMA—methylenedioxymethylamphetamine
  • GHB, GBH, blue nitro, soap, liquid ecstasy—4-hydroxybutanoic acid
  • Heroin, smack, gear, dope, junk—diacetylmorphine (also known as diamorphine hydrochloride)
  • LSD, acid, trips, dots, tabs—lysergic acid diethylamide
  • Magic mushrooms—psilocybin, psilocin
  • Marijuana, pot, weed, choof, hash, dope, ganja—cannabis l.
  • Steroids—testosterone (and a large range of other substances)
  • THC (the active ingredient in cannabis)—tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Valium—diazepam, benzodiazepine

For descriptions of drugs and their effects see Australian Drug Foundation (ADF)—Drug facts(opens in a new window).

More information


Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic)

  • s. 4—definition of a drug of dependence
  • s. 132AA—regulations can be made prescribing substances as drugs of dependence
  • Schedule Eleven—lists prohibited drugs of dependence, including plants

See Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic)(opens in a new window).


Australian Drug Foundation (ADF)

The Australian Drug Foundation aims to minimise the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs in Australia. The organisation works in partnership with other organisations to create evidence-based politics and practice that prevent and minimise the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs. Their site has information about the effects of various drugs.

See Australian Drug Foundation (ADF)—Drug facts(opens in a new window).