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Drugs and Alcohol (young people)

Advice to young people about drugs and alcohol

Here young people share their advice to other young people about drugs and alcohol. They wanted to tell others what they had learnt - sometimes through difficult personal experiences.
 
Be aware of the risks and keep safe
Young people couldn’t stress enough the importance of recognising that when under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol you are very vulnerable indeed. They said make sure that you are with friends you trust and look out for each other.
 

Steph explains why people are vulnerable when they are when drunk.

Steph explains why people are vulnerable when they are when drunk.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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I could obviously be the opposite and go out and have a good weekend and get absolutely bladdered at a club and things like that. But it’s, obviously you’re intoxicating your body and you’re changing who you are from that and sometimes it’s not always a nice character. And you know you’re sort of putting yourself in danger, putting yourself at risk when you’re not 100% yourself and you’re out and about and you’re not at home, you are in a park or things like that and, you know, rape or anything. And for young girls especially that you are putting yourself at risk because there might be somebody there who’s going to make you vulnerable because you are drunk. So definitely it’s not all about the popularity of drinking and going to a park. I’m not saying obviously go to some park and play football and it is easy to sort of sit with your friends and drink and things like that but just remember like what you’re going to do, the fact that you are obviously at risk with the amount you actually drink.
 

Leah says that if you are going to try drink and drugs, do it with someone you trust.

Leah says that if you are going to try drink and drugs, do it with someone you trust.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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I think if you are going to drink you are going to drink nobody is going to stop you, just be careful, be aware of, the situations you can get yourself in. If you are going to do drugs, I personally think they are silly, because I have learnt from my experiences, but, you are young, you are going to try stuff, just make sure if you are going to be drinking you are with someone responsible, who is someone that is going to look after you, not a bloke. And if you are doing, if you are going to do drugs make sure you are always around, just make sure you have always got someone there, you always someone around that is responsible, someone you can talk to about your experiences, don’t keep things to yourself and do it by yourself because, I think it is a lot more dangerous than what it is.
Don’t use drugs or alcohol to escape your problems
 
“Once you are in a hole don’t keep digging” Mary Ann
 
Young people stressed that personal problems can’t be fixed with drugs and alcohol. People described how their problems were still there, waiting for them when they were no longer high or drunk. Some found that drugs and alcohol made life more difficult.
 

Getting drunk has helped create problems for Leah rather than solve them.

Getting drunk has helped create problems for Leah rather than solve them.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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I think drinking, in the drinking sense it’s caused a lot of issues in my life, like you drinking is going to block out one problem but you can always guarantee it’s going to bring up another problem, you’re going to get drunk and you’re either going to start an argument with somebody, you might fall pregnant, you might, you might lose your friends, do you know what I mean? Or anything could happen to you.
 
So answering one problem with something else is not the answer to, it’s not going to answer another problem if that makes sense?
 
 

Mary Ann thinks that problems will be made worse by turning to drink and drugs. (Played by an actress)

Mary Ann thinks that problems will be made worse by turning to drink and drugs. (Played by an actress)

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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I think every situation’s different, I think every situation needs analysing first before you can do give that advice. But turning to drugs and drink is not going to make your problem better it’s going to be [slight laugh] a thousand times worse in the morning, and it’s a waste of money. Drinking, everything in moderation is good for you but when you start abusing it is when it becomes bad.
 
And there’s a saying ‘once you’re in a hole don’t keep digging’ [laughs] you stop digging don’t you?
 
Okay [laughs].
 
[Laughs.]
 
Don’t do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with
If friends are drinking and doing drugs but you don’t want to, remember that you can say ‘no’ to drugs and alcohol. Some young people found that friends respected them more for refusing drink or drugs. If you have a good relationship with your parents, talk to them about the pressures you face. Being around other drug users can make it difficult for people who want to stop using drugs.
 

Jen says young people should only do what they feel comfortable with, in a safe environment.

Jen says young people should only do what they feel comfortable with, in a safe environment.

Age at interview: 25
Sex: Female
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Just don’t feel pressured into anything. Because I think when you are younger it seems such a big deal and it seems like a really like, ‘Ah people will remember us forever or if I don’t do that or I don’t do this, and I’m so un-cool.’ And like now you look back and you’re like, ‘No’. And I like at the time you’d be just like, ‘Oh stop patronising me. That’s a really patronising thing to say. You don’t know what it’s like, you don’t know what it’s like to be me’. And I can totally take that point on but it really doesn’t matter what, like you should only ever do anything that you feel comfortable with and I think like teachers and parents and stuff really need to impart that on their children. That they should only be doing things that they feel comfortable with and that they feel in a safe environment and. And then if they want to talk about things then there are places that they can go and that there should be openness about these things.

 

Hayley first started drinking with her parents.

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Hayley first started drinking with her parents.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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If they [teenagers] want to drink they should have, they should go and talk to their parents and like I started off just having a quiet drink in with me mum and dad. They know what you’re drinking. They can watch you. If they know you’re going to start going a bit funny they can stop it from happening. And I just think with drugs they just need to say, ‘No’. They don’t need to take them. They’re just, it’s just for that look at me. That’s why people do it a lot of times I think.

Know your facts
Find out about drugs for yourself from a reliable source before you do anything. There are lots of organisations that can provide you with all the (confidential) information and advice you need (see our resources section for further information).
 

Chloe’s advice is to educate yourself about drugs, don't just get the information from friends.

Chloe’s advice is to educate yourself about drugs, don't just get the information from friends.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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Well firstly before you do anything make sure that you are educated and informed correctly. Don’t take any friend’s word for it or anything like that because they don’t necessarily know what they are talking about. Whether it be your parents or not they might have their own reasons for telling you what they’ve told you.
 
Secondly that it will make your problems worse if that’s the reason you are taking it for. When you’re not high or drunk they’re still going to be there at the end of the day.
 
And thirdly and most importantly if you never try something you’ll never miss it.
 
 

Jim says ‘know what you’re getting into’ by getting information from people who have experience of drug use.

Jim says ‘know what you’re getting into’ by getting information from people who have experience of drug use.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
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I think the best thing is to seek knowledge from people who have had drugs experience themselves before you try drugs because you don’t know what you are getting yourself into. When I started to use heroin I’d only used cannabis before that and tried a few other drugs. And I thought, ok I knew it was highly addictive but I thought it was just the same as being addicted to cannabis but worse, worse in that you’re just going to crave it. I didn’t know there was any physical element to withdrawal symptoms. You know, I thought I’d still be able to get up in the morning and function. And that’s not the case you can’t, you can’t move. You can’t do anything. It just grips you. So yeah make sure you know what you are doing before you try it.

Have ambitions
Some young people we spoke to deeply regret the fact that they hadn’t done their best at school because of their use of drugs and/or alcohol. Having goals and doing things they really enjoy has helped them to turn their lives around.
 

Karis and Kasim urge other young people to work hard at school.

Karis and Kasim urge other young people to work hard at school.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
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Karis' Stay in school like, you know, put my all in to it sort of thing. Yeah, because with me school was only half-hearted. Well at the end of my school years anyway it was only half-hearted. I went there because I had to not for my own benefit.
 
Kasim' Had to yeah.
 
Karis' sort of thing. I wasn’t thinking about my own benefit.
 
Kasim' But then you got the olders saying, ‘Oh you lot should be studying for your GCSEs and something. It was like, ‘No whatever, just let me learn from myself’, you know, ‘Let me make my own mistakes’ and ‘You learnt from your own mistakes so let me learn from mine’. But you know what I wish I’d listened to them now.
 
Karis' I say just get your school out of the way first. Just if you can just try and just, don’t smoke, don’t drink just get your education out of the way. It sounds so clichéd but just get it done. And you know if you want to go and do whatever you want when you’re 16 out of school then, you know, fair play to you but just try and get your work done. Get your grades. They are not that important but they are, do you know what I mean.
 

Michelle advises young people, especially young mothers, to have aspirations and not let anyone...

Michelle advises young people, especially young mothers, to have aspirations and not let anyone...

Age at interview: 26
Sex: Female
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Although you think you are grown up if you just gave it that little bit longer you might realise that certain things aren’t a good idea and, you know, the main thing, just to have aspirations, you know, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, your whole future and no-one gives you a future and says, “You are going to be a doctor and here you go now you are one.” You know, it is, it is very much about you, people work to get to where they get to and people’s lives go the way that their, they go from the situation you are in and the situation you want to choose to put yourself in, or if you haven’t chose to put yourself in the situation somebody else has put you in, you know? And always sort of fight for what is right as well, by that I mean, like don’t let anyone put you down, especially men because, young mums can do extremely well, very well in fact and it doesn’t, it is not a stereotype, it doesn’t have to go a certain way. I think as long as you hold on to that and have aspirations for the future.

Learn to drink alcohol in moderation
 

Alex A recommends moderation as abuse and excess can result in losing everything.

Alex A recommends moderation as abuse and excess can result in losing everything.

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Male
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Like with alcohol you’ve just got to be careful. I mean nobody is saying, ‘Don’t go out and have a good time but just think like what effects it could have on you’. A lot of people judge a good night from what they can’t remember and just. Just have a drink but you know but don’t be stupid with it because it will affect you. And drugs, and there’s no way. Just stay away from any drugs because it’s not worth it in the long run to lose everything.
 

Stefanie says ‘know your limit’.

Stefanie says ‘know your limit’.

Age at interview: 24
Sex: Female
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I can’t give the advice the government would want me to give. That’s for sure because I, it’s a big part of my world is having a drink and using it to unwind. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. And I don’t like the growing pressure that is on people for it and the guilt. But I would say, ‘Just know when you’ve hit your limit’. But my biggest trouble when I was younger was that I would drink until I got ill and that has an adverse effect on everything. Education when you don’t go in, work when they have to send you home and that’s happened to me several times. And it’s, it’s not good and it doesn’t feel good and you say every time, the cliché that you won’t do it again but you do. And I would just say, just know your limit and try not to mix your drinks too heavily. And they say have a pint of water in between each drink. Apparently that’s a good idea but I’ve never tried it.


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