Alcohol and Drugs
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Why do you think people drink alcohol or take drugs?
Some people take drugs and drink, because it makes them feel good... or blocks feelings... or just because their friends or peers are doing it.

What do you know about drugs and alcohol?
ALL drugs (including alcohol) change the chemicals we have naturally in our brains...and these control our feelings and actions. What does this mean?  Alcohol and drugs can affect our judgement leading us to do things we normally wouldn’t and might regret later, like getting involved in fights or other risky behaviours such as unsafe sex… 

Can some people deal with alcohol and other drugs better than others?
Yes, they definitely can!

How about me?
Well… that depends on your genes, chemical make-up, and psychological make-up... .not what you think you can handle!  If four people; a man, a woman, a young person and an older person all drank a pint of beer, they would all be likely to have different levels of alcohol in their blood stream.

Is doing a few joints or a few beers ok?
If you're driving or in another situation requiring concentration, or if you're pregnant or you want to be sure to have safe sex or to not have sex- IT'S NEVER OK!

What about on the weekend?
Most people start doing drugs or drinking alcohol on the weekend but this may lead to more regular heavy drinking or drug taking which can lead to dependency or other problems…

How about mixing drugs-legal prescription ones or illegal ones-with alcohol?
This is ALWAYS very dangerous!   Why do you think?

Will drugs/alcohol help me chill or forget my problems?
Yes, for a while...but the way the chemicals in our brains work, you'll need more to get the same feelings of relaxation over time... then more again. Many users need more and more to stay ‘high’ and are unable to stop taking them. Coming ‘down’ from alcohol and other drugs can make you feel anxious and depressed and the problems won't disappear...they'll get worse because you're avoiding them!

How about Solvents?
Sniffing aerosols, glue, tippex thinners, and marker pens is all extremely dangerous.  They destroy brain cells and worse!  We're not talking just addiction here...but coma, even death!  1 out of every 4 people who die sniffing solvents is a first time user.

Will I get addicted or can I handle it?
You're likely to be the last to depends on your genes; it depends on your family life; it just depends...and the best we can say is that doing drugs is a big gamble.

What about addiction Vs'just using'?
A high percentage of users get addicted...or at least over-use. And because the brain eventually needs more to get the same effect, use increases...and so do the problems....


Yes, they are. People who use drugs usually say they feel great at first and that drugs are the best thing that ever happened to them – but over time, they'll need more and more to get the same high – and this really increases the risk of addiction, and in some cases, overdose.  Drugs can ruin their physical and mental health, force them to drop out of school, lose friends, and impair their judgment.

Drug abusers can develop psychological problems such as suicidal depression or serious physical problems such as liver damage and brain damage.  Some of the side effects of different drugs are listed below:
Alcohol is probably the most widely used drug.  It can impair judgement making people do stupid things such as have unsafe sex.  Long term use can also cause loads of other health problems such as damage to liver, heart, brain and especially with spirits, the stomach.  It can also cause social problems such as relationship, money, or work problems and can cause trouble with the law.
Marijuana (hash/cannabis) can cause paranoia and feelings of anxiety.  It can also reduce inhibitions making people likely to behave in ways they would not do if they were sober. It can affect the short term memory and cause damage to lungs.
Ecstasy can cause feelings of paranoia and anxiety.   It can cause depression and sleep problems for days or even weeks after using.   It also increases heart rate and blood pressure and can cause heart attacks in people who may have a heart problem they were unaware of.  Ecstasy also raises the body temperature, which can lead to liver, kidney and heart failure.

LSD (Acid/Trips) The effects of LSD on a person are unpredictable – it depends on the amount taken, the surroundings in which the drug is used, and the user's personality, mood, and what they expect.  LSD use can result in feelings of anxiety or paranoia both during and after use.  It can affect the way you see things and how you feel about yourself.   LSD use can also lead to persistent psychosis or ‘flashbacks’.   Magic mushrooms can have the same effects and risks as LSD.

There's just not a perfect answer to this question.  Heavy drinking or taking drugs is usually a sign that someone is trying to avoid the stuff that's bugging them: pressure from friends, stress in the family, hassles, the feeling that adults are on their case, the bad feeling that they're different from everyone else in the world. When people first start taking drugs, it makes them feel like they're escaping to something that's easier, something that feels better. But after awhile, escaping becomes harder because, over time, the body needs more and more of a drug to get the high that once came easily.

Other people take drugs or drink as an experiment. Experimentation can be a part of growing up–but some experiments can lead to permanent damage. And for people whose families have a history of Alcoholism or addiction, experimenting can be particularly risky. Just like heart disease and cancer, substance abuse often runs in families so, a bit of experimentation could lead to serious dependency.

Drug users are usually pretty secretive about their drug taking so it's kind of hard to tell. Watch your friend for any of the following signs, and, if a few of these appear, you might want to talk to your friend about getting some help:
• Gets drunk or high on drugs on a regular basis.
• Lies about things, or about the amount of drugs they are using.
• Avoids you so they can go get drunk or high instead.
• Stops doing stuff that used to be a big part of their life (sports, homework, or hanging out with friends who don't do drugs).
• Plans drinking or drug use in advance, hides Alcohol or drugs, and uses them when alone.
• Has to drink or use more drugs than ever before to get the same high.
• Doesn't think they can have fun unless drunk or stoned.
• They have a lot of hangovers.
• Seems withdrawn, depressed, tired, and cares less about personal grooming and physical appearance.
• Eating and sleeping patterns have changed; rapid loss of weight.
• Having difficulty concentrating.
• Red-rimmed eyes or runny nose not related to cold or allergies.
• Pressures other people to drink or use other drugs.
• Takes risks, including sexual risks.
• Has "blackouts" and forgets what they did while under the influence.
• Feels run-down, hopeless, depressed, or even suicidal.
• Sounds selfish and doesn't care about others.
• Constantly talks about drinking or using other drugs.
• Gets in trouble with the police.
• Drinks and drives
• Gets suspended from school for drug-related problems.

If you're worried about your friend's drug problem, you need to learn how you can help before you can actually offer help. Talk with a teacher or guidance counsellor you know and trust. If you're worried about breaking your friend's trust, ask the person you go to for help to keep the conversation confidential — you don't have to tell him your friend's name.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you do finally talk to your friend:
• Make sure the timing is right. Talk to your friend when he or she is sober — before school is usually a good time.
• Tell your friend that you really care about him/her and are very worried about them.
• Don't accuse your friend of being a drug addict. Just let her know that things have been a little different lately, you're worried, and you're there to help.
• Tell your friend what you've seen him using drugs. Be specific. Let your friend know that the stuff he did scared you and that you want to help.
• Try to watch your tone — don't sound like you pity your friend or like you're annoyed.  Use the same tone of voice the two of you always use when you’re chatting with each other.
• Don't be surprised if she gets angry. Your friend may say there's nothing wrong and may get mad at you. This isn't unusual — many drug users react this way.
• Find out where help is available. You must follow through if you offer to go with your friend to get help. It's what happens after the conversation ends that will let your friend know that you're really there for him.
• Know that you can make a huge difference by reaching out to help a friend, but that it ultimately is up to your friend to help him or herself succeed. Do not feel it is entirely your responsibility, or your fault, if things do not turn out as you hope, you have done your best.