Life is all about having new experiences. It's normal to want to have a go at new things, even if you know they're bad for you - making mistakes is how you learn.
Drugs are something you’ll most likely be offered at some point - but if you’re thinking about trying them, first find out what they do, what's in them and all the risks. It can only take one 'bad trip' to have an impact on your health.
Why people take drugsPeople can want to try drugs for a number of reasons:
- friends or family take them – this is called peer pressure. Is it worth the risk?
- bored or stressed – drugs causing artificial ‘highs’ aren’t the answer to dealing with problems
- chilling out and clubbing – these are ‘recreational’ drugs – will you really have a better time?
Different drugs and their effectsThere are many types of drugs which all have different effects, often giving people different reactions:
- stimulants - affect your central nervous system and increase brain activity. Drugs that do this - cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines (‘Speed’) and alkyl nitrites
- depressants - affect your central nervous system and slow down brain activity. Drugs that do this - tranquillisers, alcohol and GHB (gamma hydroxy-butrate)
- hallucinogens - affect your mind, distort your vision and hearing, causing hallucinations (see, feel or hear things that aren’t real). Drugs that do this - cannabis, acid (LSD), magic mushrooms and ketamine
- analgesics - these have a painkilling effect. Drugs that do this include heroin
Risks of taking drugs
- You don’t know what’s in them - they could be mixed with other dangerous substances, powdered glass etc
- You don’t know how strong they are - you could easily overdose and fall unconscious after taking them
- Long-lasting and unpredictable effects - mixing them with things like alcohol can be very dangerous
- Some drugs require the use of a needle, multiple users of needles can spread diseases like HIV and hepatitis
- Getting a criminal record - it’s illegal to take, supply or possess drugs
- Addiction – this can lead to dependence on them to feel normal. A very expensive habit that can affect your relationships, work, school and health