Drugs

Drugs are illegal and can be incredibly unpredictable. The effect that different drugs can have on you vary wildly from one person to another.

There are many reasons that you might begin taking drugs. The most common reason is peer pressure. You might find that if your friends take drugs they will put you under pressure to do the same. If this is the case then they are not good friends to have because they are trying to make you do something that is bad for you and that you don’t want to do.

As hard as it might be to do – just say no and try and walk away. If you really don’t want to do something you need to have the strength and self-confidence to resist what your friends are saying.

If you still feel under pressure and are finding it hard to cope with, talk to someone you trust such as your parent or carer, an older brother or sister or a teacher. This can help you to feel much better about the situation and help you to prepare in case you are faced with anymore negative peer pressure.

The different classes of drugs

Illegal drugs fall into one of three classes. These categories are decided by the strength of the drugs and the affects that they can have on people. The three categorises are as follows:

  • Class A – Cocaine, heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms
  • Class B – Amphetamines, Cannabis
  • Class C – Anabolic steroids

Each of these drugs can be taken in different ways and they will all have a different effect on you. For example some powders such as cocaine and amphetamines are snorted or swallowed and give you a high that lasts for a short time whilst tablets like ecstasy give you a feeling of complete euphoria that last a lot longer. But you need to remember – after the high comes the low!

Most drugs have a comedown which can make you feel very tired, very depressed and even very agitated and unable to sleep. This is not very glamorous and not fun at all.

The law on drugs

If you are found possessing or supplying illegal drugs you could find yourself in serious trouble and the more serious the drug, the more serious the punishment you could be looking at. Below are the types of punishments you could be looking at for each class of drugs:

Class A
Possession = 7 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both
Supply = Life imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both

Class B
Possession = 5 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both
Supply = 14 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both

Class C
Possession = 2 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both
Supply = 14 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both

It is also illegal to drive a car while under the influence of any drug. If the police catch you, you could be looking at a heavy fine, disqualification from driving or even prison in extreme cases.

Possessing Cannabis

The reclassification of Cannabis into a Class B drug in January 2009 means that there are more severe penalties for anyone caught possessing the drug. Even if it’s the first time you’re caught, you can be arrested. Depending on how old you are, this is what will happen:

If you’re over 18

The Police may arrest you and will either:

  • Give you a warning if it’s the first time you’ve been caught in possession of Cannabis
  • Give you an on-the-spot fine of £80 if it’s your second offence
  • Arrest you if it’s the third time you’ve been caught with Cannabis. If you are convicted you will get a criminal record

If you’re aged 10-17

The Police may arrest you or refer you to a Youth Offending Team (YOT). They can also:

  • Give you a warning and tell your parents if it’s the first time you’ve been caught in possession of Cannabis
  • Give you a final warning and refer you to a YOT if it’s your second offence
  • Arrest you if it’s the third time you’ve been caught with Cannabis. If you are convicted you will get a criminal record

Becoming addicted

With any illegal drug you are running the risk of becoming addicted. This means that what might have started out as a bit of fun could turn into a nightmare and addiction which could be destructive for you, your friends and your family.

The health problems associated with taking drugs can vary greatly depending on what type of drug you are using. Luckily, if you feel that you or someone close to you is becoming dependent on drugs there is plenty of support and help available. Have a look in our ‘Who can help’ section for more details.

Above all, remember that the best way of not running the risk of letting a drug hurt you is by not getting involved with them in the first place.

Who can help?

If you or someone close to you is taking drugs and you are becoming concerned in anyway, there are people that you can turn to for help.

If you feel that you can’t talk to your family or friends about it you can always talk in confidence to you GP who will be able to give you lots of support and advice about how you can stop.

For straight talking information and advice on the effects and risks associated with taking drugs or are worried about someone else, FRANK can help. Visit www.talktofrank.com or phone 0800 77 66 00, minicom 0800 917 8765

Turning Point is a social care organisation working with individuals and their communities across England and Wales in many areas including drug misuse. Visit Turning Point at www.turning-point.co.uk

NHS Direct has information on drug misuse, how to recognise the signs, symptoms and information on the dangers involved.

The BBC Radio 1 website also contains lots of information on drugs and the potential effects and health risks of each one. Visit their site http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/drugs/stories/

Teen Life Check is a quick and easy online quiz for 12-15 year-olds that lets you check out your health and lifestyle. Your answers and results are confidential and you’ll get some useful advice on issues such as bullying, stress, home life, crime, healthy eating, exercise, safe sex, drugs, alcohol and more. Visit www.teenlifecheck.co.uk.