Drugs are substances which can cause a change in your body when you take them. Some drugs such as medicines can help you feel better, there are also lots of illegal drugs that can have a negative effect on your physical and mental wellbeing.
There are lots of different reasons why people might take drugs or drink alcohol. It might be:
Substance misuse is the use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or over-the-counter or prescription medications in a way that they are not meant to be used and could be harmful to you or others around you. People can misuse substances one time, occasionally, or regularly, and they can go on to develop substance use disorder / addiction.
It can be hard to recognise when you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, as it can develop over time without you noticing. Below are some common signs that you might have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
Drugs and alcohol can affect your mental health in many different ways. The effect they might have on you can depend on things, such as:
In the short term, while you’re still feeling the effects of drinking alcohol or taking drugs, you may feel:
Even once the alcohol or drug wears off, it can still have an effect on your mental health. You may find that you feel:
As some drugs such as alcohol make you feel more relaxed, outgoing and sociable, some people use them to help with anxiety in the short term. While this may help reduce feelings of anxiety in the moment, it can have negative long-term effects. For example, you may find that you start to feel as though you “need it” to cope in these situations in future; it may make feelings of anxiety or depression worse once the effects have worn off; or it may make you physically ill.
If you are struggling with anxiety, it is important to get help so that you can develop coping mechanisms that work for you in both the short term and the long term. For help with anxiety, please visit one of the following websites: YoungMinds, The Mix and Healthy Sandwell.
Uppers and Downers – Drugs go by a variety of different names including their generic name, brand name, and street names. “Uppers” and “downers” are informal drug classifications used to describe how a drug affects the central nervous system. “Uppers” are what’s known as stimulants while “downers” are what is classified as depressants.
Some drugs are legal, and some are not. Illegal drugs are given by a class system under the misuse of drugs Act.
Possession ( when you have drugs on your person or can be proved belongs to you, that is judged to b no bigger quantity for your own personal use).
Class A – Max of 7 years in prison
Class B – Max of 5 years in prison
Class C – Max of 2 years in prison
Supply (when you pass on drugs. You DO NOT have to receive money) /intent to supply ( when you have an amount of drugs on your person that can be proved belongs to you and that is judged to be a quantity that is more than just for personal use, or is believed that you are intending to supply to others).
Class A – Max is life in prison
Class B – Max of 14 years in prison
Class C – Max of 14 years in prison
Drug trafficking / County Lines
Taking drugs from one place to another is called drug trafficking.
Drug trafficking is a major source of money for organised crime groups. Many are involved in other forms of serious crime such as firearms, modern slavery and immigration crime.
You may of heard of something called county lines. This was given its name due to criminal activity in which drug dealers in major cities establish networks for the supply and sale of drugs to users in towns and rural areas, using other people (typically those who are young or otherwise vulnerable) to carry, store, and sell the drugs for them. Urban street gangs play a key in this.
County Lines are not defined by the distance the drugs are carried, but rather the how the method of supply is supported; namely the use of a mobile telephone line and the use of vulnerable adults and children to facilitate the distribution.
If you see anything suspicious at the coast, on the waterways, at rural airfields or anywhere else please report it to your local police on 101 or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 in an emergency.
Alcoholic drinks contain something called ethanol.
Alcohol affects everyone that drinks it differently. It can also affect the same person differently each time they drink it. You never really know what will happen until the alcohol has been consumed.
Some nicknames for alcohol are: booze, bevy, tipple, poison, juice, liquor.
We measure how much we drink with something called Units of alcohol.
A person should not save up their weekly allowance of units for one day as this is binge drinking.
The NHS defines binge drinking as ‘drinking heavily over a short space of time’
Binge drinking – having a lot of alcohol in a short space of time – can be extremely dangerous
Some of the common risk of drinking too much are;
You may become more vulnerable when you are drunk. The sorts of things that are more likely to happen if you drink a lot in a short space of time include accidents resulting in injury, misjudging risky situations or losing self-control. If you binge drink, you are likely to lose coordination, have impaired judgement and slower reaction times. Serious health risks from binge drinking include breathing problems, seizures, and brain damage. You could also vomit and choke on your own sick. If you are worried about yourself or a friend who is to intoxicate, put them in to the recovery position and call an ambulance.
When alcohol has been consumed, many people have a head and/or stomate ache, some may throw up, you might feel tired, have flu like symptoms. It will pass in time, but the amount of times depends on how much and what you have drank and how fast your body breaks down the alcohol.
It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 whether it be a shop, pub or club. Most places selling alcohol run a challenge 21 or 25 scheme, meaning that if someone doesn’t look the specific
age they will be asked to show ID. It is illegal for an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol for under 18’s. This is called proxy purchasing and a fine up to £5,000 can be received. Drinking in public places can result in being stopped, fined and arrested by the police, even if you are under 18.
Did you know that there are around 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke?! And that’s the regulated products in shops, illegal cigarettes can contain even more dangerous chemicals!
People who smoke illegal cigarettes are putting themselves at more risk of illness. It is illegal to buy cheap cigarettes from other countries and bring them back, to the UK to sell as they don’t follow all the rules and regulations of traditional UK cigarettes. Not only can this result in someone being arrested and/or fined but they are also doing their buyers a lot of harm.
Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), often known as vapes are battery powered devices that heat up a combination of chemicals, in liquid / oil form, to make a vapour. The e-liquid usually contains 3 main ingredients vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol and nicotine, but it can contain some other pretty nasty ingredients too (some of which are known to be carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals)).
There a several different types of ENDS; disposable e-cigarettes, rechargeable e-cigarettes, tanks and mods. All ENDS devices work in the same way, whether they are rechargeable or not – disposable e-cigarettes just come with a set amount of battery. ENDS can vary in appearance and can look like traditional tobacco products (cigarettes, pipes, cigars etc.) or even household items (pens, highlighters, USB sticks etc.) ENDS were initially marketed as stop smoking aids. However, it is recommended that children, young people, pregnant women and adults who have never used tobacco products before DO NOT use ENDS.
Gambling is when people risk money or anything of value to predict the outcome of a game involving chance, such as on scratchcards or fruit machines, or by betting with friends. If you predict the outcome correctly, you win money. If you’re wrong, you lose the money you gambled. The minimum legal age for gambling in the UK is 18 years old. This applies to online gambling, adult gaming centres, betting shops, bingo halls, casinos and racetracks.
Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction. If you have a problem with compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets that lead to losses, use up savings and create debt. You may hide your behaviour and even turn to theft or fraud to support your addiction.
Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder) can include: