Drugs

Facts about drugs, ways to protect health and safety for you and your friends, and information about help for young people in Oxfordshire affected by substance abuse - their own or somebody else's
Young people having fun together

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.

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: If you or anyone in your family has difficulties with any kind of substance misuse (drugs, alcohol, other substances) which is causing problems at home, or with learning or work, then you can get help. You can get help 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:

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.

Talk to Frank - Cannabis

Staying Safe – think b4 u drink

We asked young people what they thought was the best way to stay safe and avoid the risks of using drugs and alcohol. We gave them information about drugs and alcohol to help them come up with advice for other young people. They came up with the name think b4 u drink.

The safest thing with drugs and alcohol is not to use them at all, but if you intend to, follow these guidelines:

Don't pre-load

A few drinks before you go out with your mates can easily lead to trouble. You are 2 ½ times more likely to get in to a fight or have an accident than people who only start drinking when they go out!

Avoid mixing drugs and alcohol

Using drugs is risky in itself but mixing them with alcohol can make the effects of both worse and even fatal. Alcohol dehydrates you, which can cause trouble with some drugs, and drugs can stop you noticing how much you are drinking.

Pace Yourself

To avoid the harms of binge drinking, pace yourself. Don’t drink on an empty stomach, have a non alcoholic spacer between each alcoholic drink, drink lower alcoholic drinks, drink slower. Never take more drugs because you think the ones you have taken are not working. Taking more could mean you overdose. Be patient and pace yourself!

Don't get mixed up in violence

Alcohol and drugs reduce our ability to think straight. It's best to just walk away from someone who is giving you grief rather than to end up being a victim of a serious assault or being locked up for giving someone else a hiding.

Take care and be prepared if you might have sex

Alcohol and drugs increase your self confidence, so might make it easier to approach someone you fancy. It also lowers inhibitions, which can lead you to make risky decisions you later regret. If you intend to have sex, use a condom to protect against  sexually transmitted infections, check consent and know how to get emergency contraception if anything goes wrong.

Keep an eye on your drink

Never accept drinks from strangers or someone you don’t trust. These could be spiked. Keep an eye on your drink when out and don’t leave it unattended.

Look after yourself and your mates

If you decide to go off with someone you’ve just met let your mates know where you’re going. Don’t leave your mates alone if they are too ‘out of it’. There is a greater risk of accidents and other incidents happening with someone being drunk or ‘off their face’.

Know what to do if someone is unwell

If someone starts to feel unwell because they’ve gone too far, take them somewhere quiet and cool. Keep them sitting up and awake, give them water if they’re able to drink. If you are unable to wake them and their breathing is erratic lie them on their side in the recovery position and get medical help.

Get home safely

Have a plan of how you’re going to get home. Make sure you keep money for a taxi or bus. If you do end up walking home alone be aware of your surroundings, stay on well lit public paths and avoid that short cut through the park in the dark. Avoid flashing your valuables (mobile phone) if walking home alone and avoid listening to your music with the earphones in. Walk steadily and quickly.

My Experience: JD aged 15

“It really screwed me up doing Cannabis, made me depressed, despondent and all sorts. I got into a gang and started doing bad things, fighting, stealing and using other drugs. When I came to CAN YP Team I really sorted my life out – I am not using Cannabis at all and I can talk about how I really feel. I am a lot calmer and have stopped doing stupid things. Having counselling and acupuncture has helped me a lot. I’d tell anyone in the same position to just come in. They listen and treat you like a real person”

Nugget

The animation below is about the process of becoming addicted shown by a kiwi bird trying a golden nugget.

Nuggets

Help for young people misusing drugs and alcohol

Free help to address drug and alcohol misuse is available service for young people under the age of 19 in Oxfordshire. This provides information, education, advice and treatment to young people in relation to drug and alcohol use, either their own use or because they are being affected by someone else’s use.

This support helps young people to address the variety of problems they are experiencing around drug and alcohol misuse, help them to reduce the harms caused by it and to prevent it from becoming a greater problem as they get older. You can ask for help for yourself, or someone else like a family member, teacher or worker can ask. You can even help a friend ask for help.

You can access this support at young local Children and Family Centre. Ask to speak to the Specialist Drug and Alcohol or Aquarius worker. Support available includes:

  • Structured 1:1 Support. Individual sessions for young people who are misusing drugs and or alcohol to reduce risks and bring about behaviour change.
  • Hidden Harm Support. Structured individual sessions for children and young people whose parents, carers or other members of the family are misusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Brief Advice & information. One off brief advice & information sessions aimed at reducing risk.

Young people may also be referred to other services to help address other issues.

 Crucial: Adults can also ask about support from their Children and Family Centre, if the substance misuse if causing problems in the family, or from their Doctor (GP). There are also charities like Alcoholics Anonymous and Turning Point Roads to Recovery which can provide help and treatment.

Pressured into dealing?

People who supply drugs to children (young people under 18) may be trying to hurt and abuse you, even if they are people you know, people your own age or people you trust. Some adults  use children to deal drugs for them. They think this will make sure that they don't get caught or get into trouble with the law themselves. They may offer payment or gifts, but they may also use blackmail, violence, and threats. This is called criminal exploitation. Children who are in gangs, have problems at home or school, or who have suffered abuse are most at risk, but anyone can be targeted.   

Find out more and read case studies about young people who have suffered criminal exploitation.

Leave a Comment