Young People, Drugs and Alcohol

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In this section, you will find information on drugs, alcohol and the effects they have on young people. You will also find information, useful links and people you can contact.

Young People and Drugs

When it comes to drugs, the facts can often be masked by the fiction. It’s important that you’re aware of the effects that drugs can have on your mind, body and even on your life. There can be serious risks linked to the use of drugs; it’s vital that you know your stuff.

There are many kinds of drugs that you may not be aware of, namely controlled substances and so-called ‘Legal Highs’. We’re here to give you all the right information so that you can keep yourself and the people you care about safe. Despite their label, ‘Legal Highs’ are illegal to possess, use or sell.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the laws surrounding young people, drugs and ‘Legal Highs’?
  • It is illegal for anyone to supply ‘Legal Highs’ for human consumption. The penalty for selling legal highs ranges from a formal warning to 7 years in prison.
  • It is illegal give legal highs to anyone for free, even to friends.
  • It is illegal to be in possession of a controlled drug.
  • It is illegal to produce, import or export controlled drugs.
  • It is illegal to supply controlled drugs.
What kinds of drugs are there, and what are the concequences of misusing them?

Class A – These drugs are treated as the most dangerous by the law. These include cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms and crystal meth. Possession of a Class A drug can lead to 7 years in prison, whilst supply can lead to life imprisonment.

Class B – These drugs include amphetamine, ketamine and cannabis. Possession of a Class B drug can lead to 5 years in prison, whilst supply can lead 14 years’ imprisonment.

Class C – These drugs include prescribed medication, chemicals such as GBL and anabolic steroids. Possession of a Class C drug can lead to 2 years in prison, whilst supply can lead to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Learn more about the different kinds of drugs that may affect you here: http://www.drugwise.org.uk/what-are-the-uk-drug-laws/

What are the effects of drugs?

The method of how a drug enters the body impacts on how it affects the person. For example: injection takes the drug directly into the blood stream, providing more immediate effects; while ingestion requires the drug to pass through the digestive system, delaying the effects.

Physical Effects:

  • Poisoning – Anyone who consumes a controlled substance is susceptible to poisoning. Poisoning is caused by very high levels of drugs being taken, which is very dangerous to the brain’s vital functions such as controlling breathing.
  • Accidents and Injury – Drugs reduce a young person’s mental and physical abilities, just like adults. It also affects judgement and co-ordination, which can lead to incidents such as drink-driving, excessive alcohol consumption and unprotected sex.
  • Illnesses – Drugs weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infection and sickness.
  • Serious Health Effects – Drugs can cause extreme cardiovascular conditions, ranging from heart attacks to collapsed veins. These effects can be fatal if untreated.
  • Nausea, Vomiting and Pains
  • Seizures, Strokes and Brain Damage – Drugs interfere with memory, attention and decision-making. Using drugs can also lead to seizures (caused by the drugs damaging a certain area of the brain), strokes and permanent brain damage.

Mental Effects:

  • Mental Health – Drugs don’t just affect the brain physically; they also affect people mentally. People who consume drugs regularly are at higher risk of developing depression and disturbed mental health, which leads to self-harm and even suicide.
  • Negative Mental Effects - Paranoia, Aggressiveness, Hallucinations, Addiction, Impaired Judgment and Loss of Self-Control.

Effects on Others:

  • Violence – Drugs impair judgement, which can lead to unexpected outbursts or unpredictable, violent behaviour.
  • Friendships and Relationships – Drugs don’t just affect the person consuming them; it affects the people who care about them too. Because drugs impair judgement, they can lead to unexpected, and potentially violent, fights and arguments.

 

Young People and Alcohol

When it comes to alcohol, thefacts can often be masked by the fiction. It’s important that you’re aware of the effects that alcohol can have on your mind, body and even on your life. There can be serious risks linked to alcohol consumption, especially as a young person.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the laws surrounding alcohol and young people?
  • It is illegal to sell alcohol to someone under 18 anywhere.
  • It is illegal for someone over the age of 18 to buy alcohol for someone who is under the age of 18.
  • It is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to buy, sell or attempt to buy alcohol.
  • However, it is not illegal for someone under the age of 16 to consume alcohol at home or on private premises.

 

What are the effects of alcohol on young people?

Physical Effects:

  • Alcohol Poisoning – Anyone who drinks a lot within a short period could be affected by alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is caused by very high levels of alcohol in the bloodstream, which is very dangerous to the brain’s vital functions such as controlling breathing.
  • Accidents and Injury – Alcohol reduces a young person’s mental and physical abilities, just like adults. It also affects judgement and co-ordination, which can lead to incidents such as drink-driving, drug use and unprotected sex.
  • Brain Damage – During a person’s teenage period, their brain is still developing quickly. However, consuming alcohol can have a negative impact on someone’s brain. Alcohol affects memory function, the ability to learn new information and attention span.

Mental Effects:

  • Mental Health – Alcohol doesn’t just affect the brain physically; it also affects people mentally. People who consume alcohol regularly are at higher risk of developing depression and disturbed mental health, which leads to self-harm and even suicide.

Effects on Others:

  • Violence - Alcohol impairs judgement, which can lead to unexpected outbursts or unpredictable, violent behaviour.
  • Friendships and Relationships – Alcohol doesn’t just affect the person consuming it; it affects the people who care about them too. Because alcohol impairs judgement, it can lead to unexpected, and potentially violent, fights and arguments.

Effects on You:

  • Convictions and Job Prospects – If you’re caught in possession of alcohol, drunk in a public area, vandalising property or fighting under the influence of alcohol, you could be arrested and end up with a criminal record. This may limit your job options in the future when your employer does a background check, or when you’re applying for a Visa into Australia or America.

Where can I go if alcohol or drugs are affecting me or someone I know?

  • Parents, guardians or teachers
  • For more information, talk with your local GP about alcohol and the effects that it can have on you and others around you.
  • ChildLine – Telephone 0800 1111

       Or visit www.childline.org.uk

  • Drinkline – Telephone 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm)
  • Alcoholics Anonymous - A website where people of all ages affected by alcohol from across the UK share their experiences and offer helpful information. Visit http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/ for more information.
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