Drugs and Alcohol

Where to find information and advice about drugs and alcohol

People had very different experiences of getting information about drugs and alcohol. Joe was influenced by a Government-funded alcohol awareness campaign and Jamie considers himself lucky that his father talked to him about drugs and alcohol from an early age.
But some people felt that the information they got about drugs was patchy and unbalanced. Harry described the information available as being either ‘doom or gloom’, or other young people talking about ‘how wonderful drugs are’. Charlie thinks that young people ignore information about drugs because it puts so much emphasis on the risks. This is especially true if they see other people their age using drugs and not coming to any obvious harm. A few people said that balanced, fact-based information would help people who use drugs to use them more safely.
Other people said that there was a need for more information about the physical, mental and social risks of using drugs. They wanted more “detailed” and “realistic” information about the effects and features of different drugs. Harry said that he wanted more detailed information about how different drugs work.
Where to get drugs and alcohol information and advice
People’s experiences of getting information on drugs and alcohol from schools could be very different. Many felt disappointed with the information and the way it was given. Bekky thinks teachers need to be trained to deliver good drugs and alcohol education. But Alex A said he got the most useful information about drugs from school. Chloe said that there is not as much factual information about drugs as there is for alcohol. Other people agreed that generally the quality of information about alcohol was good but in schools they tended to receive more information about drugs, and very little about alcohol.
Drugs, alcohol and sex education is usually discussed in PSHE lessons in school. Some people described the lessons as ‘boring’, and paid very little attention to what was said. For Hugh, Ben and Alex, PSHE lessons were ‘like a break’ from school work and routine and no one, including the teacher, seemed to be interested in the lessons.
Some young people suggested that drugs and alcohol education should start, at around the time of the move from primary to secondary school, before peer pressure starts.
Emma thinks schools are limited in what they can teach about alcohol because some parents might see it as encouraging their son or daughter to drink.
Frank and Wikipedia were said to be useful websites for information about drugs. Frank is a Government-funded website that has tried to be much more open in its discussion of drugs and their possible effects. Peter used the web to understand more about the blackouts he used to have when very drunk. Jamie searched online for the drug MDMA after he was offered it at a festival. Charlie did a lot of research on drugs before using them. Chloe pointed out that the internet is also being used to sell illegal drugs and there’s a need to regulate it.
The media
People had different opinions about the role of the media in providing information on drugs and alcohol. They talked about reports of celebrities who have drug problems. Some thought it was good to raise awareness and others felt that some TV shows make drug use seem ‘glamorous’.
Charities and community organisations
Some people mentioned specific young people’s projects that provide information, advice, support and encouragement when dealing with drugs or alcohol issues (see ‘Treatments for substance and alcohol abuse’).
University and college students were aware of several organisations they could approach if in need of advice and information, for example student unions, Nightline, Connexions. Ben was given lots of leaflets with contact details of relevant groups at the start of his first year. Emma said that her university understood that students drink a lot so information and support about alcohol was widely available. Her university also surveyed students about the amount of alcohol they drank at the start and end of their first year. Chloe suggested that there should be more walk-in centres where young people can go and get information and advice.
Learning from others’ experiences
People who had used drugs said that they’d learnt a lot through their own experiences and many young people said that drugs and alcohol information would be more relevant and ‘real’ coming from someone young, talking about their personal experiences. They thought that, as teenagers, they would have been impressed by someone of a similar age coming to their school and talking about the effect of drugs in their lives.
Steph and Stephanie both felt that ‘shock tactics’ were an effective way of trying to make young people aware of drugs and its effects.

Last reviewed :July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.


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