Growing up can be tough. There is often a lot of pressure from friends and family to do the right thing, or do the risky thing. Drugs can feel like a normal part of growing up, and almost everyone will be aware of other people using drugs (even if it is only smoking) though many choose not to use drugs themselves.
Crucial: If you are a young person living in Oxfordshire who is having difficulties as a result of substance misuse (your own or someone else's) you can get support from the Aquarius Service.
The only way to avoid the risks of using drugs is not to use them at all. There are good arguments for this:
- Drugs are illegal - even so-called legal highs
- Drugs are dangerous - because they act on the brain, sometimes unpredictably
- Drugs can get in the way of other things in your life, especially if you become dependent or addicted
But whether you know someone taking drugs, you're using drugs yourself, or just want to be prepared, it helps to learn as much as you can about drugs.
Crucial: Get support for any kind of substance misuse (drugs, alcohol, other substances) which is causing problems at home, or with learning or work from your college, school health nurse , GP (Doctor) or Children and Family Centre.
Reliable information about drugs
Here is some information from 'Talk to Frank' (the national drugs awareness site for young people, parents and carers) about the most commonly used legal and illegal substances, including:
- Amphetamines (speed)
- Ecstasy, MDMA (Mandy)
- Legal Highs
- Nitrous Oxide
- Synthetic Cannabinoids (Spice)
- Synthetic Opioids (Fentanyl)
- Tranquilisers (Temazopan, Valium, Xanax)
There are many more drugs listed on Frank, along with facts about the risks and some information about how you can stay safer. There are new substances coming out all the time, and names for drugs often change. Make sure you have high quality, reliable information about any substance that you or a friend may be considering taking.
Crucial: So-called legal highs are not legal, and some are more dangerous than the drugs they mimic. Find out more about novel psychoactive substances, aka illegal highs.
Cannabis is the most widely-used illegal drug in the United Kingdom. Because so many people have taken it, the risks are felt to be well understood, and many people see it as a safer drug. However there are still risks:
- Cannabis interferes with memory, alertness and learning. Like being drunk, being stoned makes it harder to study or go to work.
- There is evidence that taking cannabis regularly (once a month or more) damages the developing teenage brain.
- Smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco is as harmful to health and addictive as smoking.
- People who sell cannabis often encourage you to try other drugs, with higher risks.
- For some people it can be associated with mental health problems like anxiety.
Cannabis is a drug which can have long-lasting effects. Some people seem to suffer more from this than others. If your use is getting in the way of study, work, or getting on with your life, and you are struggling to change or stop, then help is available.