Drugs and alcohol

People take drugs or drink for various reasons. It might be a search for pleasure, to try and feel good or because you want to try something new. There is nothing basically bad or abnormal about searching for these feelings, but remember taking drugs and drinking does carry risks.

Alcohol

You may not realise it but alcohol is a powerful drug and by drinking a lot you are opening yourself up to a wide range of medical and behavioural problems. While drinking you are also making yourself more vulnerable to personal harm and crime.

People drink alcohol for all sorts of different reasons. Some people find that it helps to make them more sociable, relaxed and confident. However, you should never rely on alcohol to feel good about yourself nor should you feel pressured by your friends to drink more than you want to.

There are many long-term health risks associated with drinking too much alcohol. These include increasing the risk of raised blood pressure and weight gain. Continuing to drink heavily over time could cause liver, stomach, kidneys and heart problems.

Heavy drinking could also lead to emotional problems, behavioural changes and alcohol dependency. This affects different people in different ways. You may get more aggressive and not be a lot of fun to be around or, as alcohol is a depressant, you may become moody, irritable and easily depressed.

If you feel that you or someone you know is drinking too much, there are people you can go to for support. Talk to a trusted adult – your parents or carer, an older family member or your doctor.

Drugs

Drugs are illegal and can be incredibly unpredictable. The effects that drugs can have on you vary wildly from one person to another.

Some drugs come in pill or tablet form, which are usually swallowed; some come in a powder form which can be snorted, smoked or injected: and some are in a herb or resin form which is usually smoked.

Depending on the drug, the effects vary greatly but most give the user a ‘high’, and it is this high that can become addictive. However, after ever high there is a come-down and they can be a lot less fun.

There are many reasons that you might begin taking drugs. The most common reason is peer pressure. You might find that if your friends take drugs they will put you under pressure to do the same. If this is the case then they are not good friends to have because they are trying to make you do something that is bad for you and that you don’t want to do.

With any illegal drug you are running the risk of becoming addicted. This means that what might have started out as a bit of fun could turn into a nightmare and addiction which could be destructive for you, your friends and your family.

If you or someone close to you is taking drugs and you are becoming concerned in anyway, there are people that you can turn to for help.

If you feel that you can’t talk to your family or friends about it you can always talk in confidence to you GP who will be able to give you lots of support and advice about how you can stop.

You can also visit www.talktofrank.com or phone 0800 77 66 00 for straight talking information and advice on the effects and risks associated with taking drugs or are worried about someone else.

NHS Direct also has information on drug misuse, go to www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.

Compiled from www.connexions-direct.com and www.youngminds.org.uk.