Smoking, drugs and alcohol
Smoking – Smoking cessation is the process of discontinuing tobacco smoking. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, which is addictive and can cause dependence. Nicotine withdrawal often makes the process of quitting difficult. If you want to stop smoking, you can make small changes to your lifestyle that may help you resist the temptation to light up.
If you wish to give up – Think positive, you might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but don’t let that put you off. Look back at the things your experience has taught you and think about how you’re really going to do it this time. Make a plan to quit smoking, Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Think ahead to times where it might be difficult (a party, for instance), and plan your actions and escape routes in advance. Identify when you crave cigarettes, a craving can last 5 minutes. Before you give up, make a list of 5-minute strategies. Get some stop smoking support, there’s support available from your local stop smoking service. Did you know that you’re up to 4 times more likely to quit successfully with their expert help and advice?
You can also call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.
Drugs – It’s not hard to find drugs, and sometimes it may seem like everyone’s doing them. But as with anything that seems too good to be true, there are downsides (and dangers) to taking drugs. Drugs are chemicals or substances that change the way our bodies work. Some are medicines that help people when doctors prescribe them. Many have no medical use or benefits. When taken (usually by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting), abused drugs find their way into the bloodstream. From there, they move to the brain and other parts of the body. In the brain, drugs may intensify or dull the senses, change how alert or sleepy people feel, and sometimes decrease physical pain. Because of the way these drugs work on the brain, they affect the ability to make healthy choices and decisions.
Commonly abused drugs include alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine and crack, depressants, heroin, inhalants, ketamine, LSD, MDMA/Ecstasy, marijuana, methamphetamine (“meth”), mushrooms, prescription pain relievers (opioids).
Getting Help, If you think you — or a friend — may be addicted to drugs, talk to a parent, your doctor, school or nurse. They can help you get the help you need. It can be hard to overcome drug addiction without professional help and treatment. It takes time and isn’t something that can be done alone — everyone needs support. Experts who help people with addictions are trained to help, not judge.
Alcohol – Researchers suggest that teens are more likely than adults to abuse alcohol because of the way the human brain develops. During adolescence, the teenage brain’s pleasure centres mature quicker than the part of the brain responsible for sound decision-making. Teens are particularly vulnerable to binge drinking because their impulse control has not yet fully matured. Many teens do not have the mental capacity to fully understand the consequences of drinking or even be aware of them. Teens can face immediate negative consequences, such as brain damage and delayed puberty.
Researchers believe that heavy drinking in adolescence can impair brain function later in life. Memory, coordination and motor skills may be affected. Teenagers who drink heavily are more likely to be involved in sexual assaults and physical fights. Additionally, teens who drink are less likely to use protection during sexual activity. This can lead to unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.