Drugs and Alcohol

Many parents and faith communities are unaware of the pressures that young people face on a daily basis.

Most secondary students know where and how to acquire drugs, and are being told that drugs are fun, harmless, will make them better athletes and more popular, and will solve their problems. In order to protect young people from these lies and these pressures, it is essential for families and faith communities to be educated about substance abuse so that they can be a good support for their young people.


There are as many reasons for why young people use drugs as there are young people, but here are a few common ones:

  • The pleasure and excitement of taking drugs
  • Peer pressure, and the desire to be accepted
  • Boredom or curiosity, and the myth that one try can’t hurt
  • Rebellion against authority structures
  • An escape from reality
  • A coping mechanism when life seems too difficult

Prevention and Support:

Because alcohol and most drugs are addictive, it is important to educate young people about drugs and alcohol before they start using them. One way families and faith communities can prevent drug and alcohol abuse is by letting young people know the health risks and legal consequences of using drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, set a good example for young people. If you tell a young person not to drink and do drugs, then follow your own advice.

Talking about drugs and alcohol is not easy. However, a survey on alcohol and drug use in secondary schools discovered that young people who believed that their families would try to keep them from taking drugs were less likely to do drugs (NatCen and NFER, 2010). It is never too early to begin talking about drugs and alcohol awareness.

If a young person does get involved with drugs and alcohol, however, do not over-react, and try to be non-judgmental. The most important thing is to be supportive and maintain a good relationship with this young person no matter what they do. Remember that an addiction can only be fixed once the young person acknowledges that there is a problem. If a good relationship has already been established with a young person who has an addiction, that young person will already know where to find help and guidance when they recognizes the problem.

Health Risks of Alcohol and Drugs:


  • Globally, an estimated 1.8 million deaths each year are directly related to alcohol consumption (WHO—World Health Organisation).
  • In the UK alone, there were up to 40,000 alcohol-related deaths in 2005 (IAS—Institute of Alcohol Studies).


  • Smoking tobacco can result in a long-term addiction which can lead to chest infections, cancer, or heart disease
  • Smoking contributes to an estimated 120,000 premature deaths in theUKevery year (Substance Misuse Partnership)


  • Ecstasy can cause hyperthermia (overheating), and repeated use of ecstasy makes the user more susceptible to muscle breakdown, dehydration, hypertension, and heart-failure (NIDA).
  • It has also been linked to liver and kidney problems, depression, and permanent brain damage


  • Amphetamines increases the user’s heart rate and blood pressure and damages blood vessels in the brain, which can lead to a stroke
  • An overdose of amphetamines can cause hyperthermia (overheating), convulsions, and death
  • Amphetamine users often suffer from anxiety, violence, depression, paranoia, confusion, insomnia, hallucinations, and delusions such as insects crawling underneath their skin
  • Users who inject amphetamine directly into their bloodstream using needles are more at risk for contracting infections like Hepatitis B or C and HIV/AIDS

Alkyl Nitrates (Poppers):

  • Headaches are a common side-effect of taking alkyl nitrates
  • Alkyl Nitrate is very caustic and can burn skin
  • Mixing Viagra with Alkyl Nitrates decreases blood pressure, which can lead to fainting, a stroke, or a heart attack


  • Cannabis impairs the user’s ability to concentrate, may cause the user to lack energy and motivation, or become paranoid and anxious
  • It can lead to permanent brain damage, and has been linked to schizophrenia and other mental disabilities

Magic Mushrooms:

  • Magic mushrooms can cause stomach pains, sickness, nausea, and diarrhoea
  • Accidentally eating the wrong kind of mushroom can lead to serious illness, poisoning, and even death
  • Magic mushrooms can result in anxiety, psychosis, panic attacks, severe depression, and serious mental health problems


  • Cocaine and crack are heavily addictive, even after one use, and can result in depression, anxiety, and paranoia
  • They increase the user’s heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, leading to a higher risk of heart attacks and seizures
  • Using either crack or cocaine just once can kill the user


  • LSD is a highly unpredictable drug, and bad “trips” can be terrifying
  • It increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; can incite nausea, insomnia, and body tremors
  • LSD can lead to anxiety, depression, and mental health problems such as schizophrenia


  • Side-effects of GHB include giddiness, slurring of speech, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, loss of awareness
  • GHB can induce unconsciousness, which makes the user susceptible to date rape, and, in serious cases, can lead to comas and death


  • Ketamine users cannot feel physical pain, so they can injure themselves badly and be unaware of their injuries
  • In extreme cases, Ketamine users may become physically paralyzed under the influence
  • Ketamine can cause panic attacks and depression and aggravate mental illness, and has been linked to high blood pressure and bladder problems


  • Heroin damages veins, which can then lead to gangrene and tissue infections
  • Overdoses can result in a coma and even death


  • Khat users often suffer from insomnia and heart problems, and many experience sexual impotence
  • It can lead to feelings of anxiety, aggression, and violence, and can make existing mental health problems worse


020 7928 8898


Alcohol Concern

020 7928 7377


National Smoking Helpline (NSH)

0800 1690169