Drugs and Keeping Safe
What Are Drugs?
A drug is any substance that causes a temporary change in your body and/or your mind when you take it. Some drugs (like medicines) are designed to help us. They can relieve pain or help us to fight infection. However, they can be dangerous if you take more than you should or take stuff that’s been prescribed for someone else.
There are laws in place around drugs to help reduce potential harm.
You may have heard of NPS (New Psychoactive Substances, previously known as legal highs.) You can read more about these if you CLICK HERE. The law around possessing and distributing (handing out or selling) these is slightly different to illegal drugs, but could still result in a criminal conviction.
Some drugs are illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971.) These include cannabis, ecstasy, speed, heroin, cocaine and others.
There may be lots of reasons why people take drugs. Enjoyment, a way of coping, peer pressure or even just because they’re curious. There are lots of kinds of drugs available and they can all affect people in different ways.
You don’t have to use drugs or alcohol to have fun. It’s also okay to say no, even if everyone else is doing it. If it’s hard to resist pressure make up an excuse, go home early or have a plan in place beforehand about what you might say.
As well as the risk of overdose and physical harm to your body drugs can lead to addiction or dependency, meaning you start to rely on them to have fun or even just to feel “normal.” Drug use can get in the way of school work or can lead to other risky behaviours like unprotected sex, sex you didn’t really want to happen or anti-social behaviour. This is because they lower your inhibitions and may cause you do things you wouldn’t normally do.
If you do choose to take drugs it’s important that you try to stay safe. This means looking after yourself and taking care of others.
Some people think that they know how drugs will affect them. However, it’s never easy to tell how strong whatever you buy will be or what else might be in it. You may have had an easy or positive experience before, this doesn’t guarantee every time will be the same. Things like the mood you’re in, who you’re with and even where you are can impact on how things turn out. Mixing substances, including drugs and alcohol, can also change their effects.
Some safety tips include:
- Make sure you know what you’re taking and educate yourself about drugs and their effects. If things don’t feel right let someone know. Tell a pal what you’re taking. Then if things do go wrong they can pass this information on
- Start slow and test small amounts first so that you know the effects
- Stay close to friends you trust and don’t leave anyone on their own.
- Remember that your judgement may be impaired if you’ve been drinking or taking drugs. Carry condoms and use them.
- Leave for somewhere safe if you feel unsafe at a venue or party. If you feel unwell or are stressing out find a space where you can chill out. Make sure you’re with someone you trust.
- Plan how to get home – for example, take enough money to share a taxi or for the last bus
- Don’t assume that medications are a safer option than illegal drugs. Medications can be dangerous, even life threatening, if used incorrectly.
- Remember that an illegal drug may be much stronger than you expect. It may not actually be the drug you think it is, it might contain something else.
- Be aware that mixing alcohol and drugs can put you in danger of overdose. The depressant effects of alcohol can mask the effects of stimulant drugs like speed.
- Keep hydrated – sip (don’t gulp) around a pint of water per hour
- Avoid energy drinks as this can put a strain on your heart
- If you, or a friend, needs medical help phone an ambulance immediately. Don’t be worried about getting into trouble, it could save a life.
- If a friend is unconscious, lay them on their side to reduce the risk of breathing in vomit and call 999
Support and Information
If you need confidential support around your drug use our services section to find a local agency
For further information around all types of drugs, their effects, the law and keeping safe try the following website:
You can also chat to our online counsellor or ask us a question on the website.