Drugs and Alcohol

Friends, alcohol and drugs

Several people said that friends or older siblings influenced whether they got into drugs or alcohol. Though most young people we talked to had tried both alcohol and drugs (mainly cannabis) several younger people said they had no plans to use drugs or drink or to hang around with people who did.
Being influenced by friends
Using drugs regularly and experimenting with different drugs was a big part of making new friends at university where drugs and alcohol are easy to get hold of.
Overtime some young people noticed that smoking cannabis left their minds ‘clouded’ and ‘in a haze’. Several said they thought taking drugs could damage their potential for getting good careers. Some young people had friends who’d become too involved with drugs and were in denial about the risks. Sam was the first one of his group to start using drugs and felt guilty for introducing his friends to it.
Working and getting into serious relationships
Mixing with older people in the workplace or simply ‘growing up’ and realising they needed to earn money and pay bills made some people realise they had to drink and smoke less. Several people still enjoyed social drinking with their friends/partners but generally took recreational drugs less often.
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Avoiding drug-using friends
For those who used drugs with friends, finding a new social group could be important if they were going to stop taking drugs. It could be difficult leaving old friends behind, but everyone we talked to said it had been the right thing to do. Several people realised old friends were seriously at risk of getting addicted and not being able to stop 
But Peter said his enjoyment of drugs hadn’t affected their friendships or relationships.
Support from friends
Young people described what friendship meant to them. Being supportive meant really looking out for your friends and stopping them getting into trouble with drugs and drink.
See also Drugs, alcohol and social life, Stopping or cutting down on drug use and Choosing not to use drugs

Last updated: January 2015
Review date: January 2017

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