Risks: illegal drugs

Drugs – medical and illegal – are chemicals that change the way a person’s body works. They can be swallowed, injected, inhaled, smoked, dissolved in the mouth or absorbed through the skin. Illegal drugs aren’t good for anyone, but they are particularly harmful for young people, whose brains and bodies are still developing.

Illegal drugs can damage your brain, heart and other essential organs. Cocaine, for example, can cause a heart attack, even in a teenager. Even drugs legally prescribed by doctors, such as painkillers, can be abused and do cause harm. If you use drugs it will affect all aspects of your life – your relationships with others, your schoolwork, your performance in sporting activities – and you are less likely to have control over your actions.

It is important to think carefully about what level of risk you are willing to take. People who risk their health and even their lives are making a choice of self-neglect that is extremely dangerous. If you value yourself – if you have good self-esteem – you will generally make better decisions that will help you stay alive and healthy. Don’t be persuaded against your will to do something potentially harmful. Look after yourself.

If you need help or are worried about a friend, please talk to a trusted adult. Asking for help is the best thing you can do. You’ll also find lots of excellent information, help and advice on these websites:

  • Kidshealth – this will tell you what you need to know about drugs
  • FRANK – friendly, confidential advice about drugs
  • Young Addaction – UK charity for helping those with drug addiction
  • Adfam – support for families dealing with drug and alcohol addiction