Guide for young people on drugs and alcohol

What is a recreational drug?

A drug is any chemical ingested that can influence the way you think, feel, and act. It can come in various forms - pill, liquid, powder, etc. This means that alcohol is also considered a drug.
Recreational drugs are illegal drugs or drugs that people take for enjoyment or any other non-medical reason.

Why do people drink or take drugs?

Below are some reasons why people might take drugs:
1. To fit in with a group or appear popular
2. Trying out to see what it feels like
3. Peer pressure
4. For distraction purposes
5. To boost confidence
Whatever the reason might be, remember that it doesn't make them a bad person. However, there are negative implications on your mental and physical health, so it's important to be aware of the risks involved.

Factors influencing how drugs affect mental health

The effect of drug use on your mental health can be dependent on the following factors:
1. Type of drug
2. Amount of drug used
3. Frequency of drug use
4. Current emotion at time of use
5. Environment of drug use

Effects of drug use

While it might produce positive feelings in the short-term, once the drug wears off, you might suffer from negative emotions. If you are taking drugs to cope with certain situations, you might find yourself starting to feel a lack of control, that you “need it” to cope with similar situations in future. It is best for you to develop coping mechanisms that work for you instead.

How to tell if you have a problem with drugs


Loss of control - when drug use feels like it's beyond your control, and you cannot cope without it


Tolerance building - you start to need more and more of the drug to feel the effects


Withdrawal symptoms - you feel sick, anxious, or develop tremors


Unexplained cuts and bruises, blackouts, confusion, and difficulty remembering what happened while on drugs


When you try to hide or feel ashamed about what you're doing

What to do if you're peer pressured to take drugs

Peer pressure happens when you feel inclined to perform an act because others want you to despite feeling uncomfortable about it.
It's important to note that the only person who gets to decide what you do is you. It can be difficult saying no, for fear that people will make fun of you or stop hanging out with you, but people who truly care about you will never push you to do anything you don't feel comfortable with.

How to help a friend with drug problem

Let them know that you're there for them as a friend, and they can talk it out with you if need be. It's important to show that you are not judging them, and only want to help.
It's okay if you are worried but don't feel equipped to carry out that conversation. You can inform a trusted adult about it and explain to your friend that you want to help them get through this.

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