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Drug problems

Are you worried about your own drug taking? Do you know someone who is abusing or misusing drugs? If you're concerned about drugs, it's good to know the facts about how they can affect you physically and mentally.

Why take drugs?

Drug users don't start using drugs to become addicted on purpose. But with many drugs containing substances that are addictive, people who use them casually in their spare time can then become regular users.

Reasons why people start using drugs can include:

  • to escape problems they may be having in other parts of their life
  • peer pressure and fitting in with another group of people
  • being curious about the effects of drugs

Becoming dependent on drugs can affect your family and friends. It can also have a serious impact on your own physical and mental well-being.

Drug overdoses can be fatal, and you can die instantly from misusing drugs that you can buy over the counter. This includes things like aerosols, glues and other solvents.

Don’t feel under pressure to try drugs if you don’t want to. Because the effects of drugs can be much greater in crowded and busy places, don't take anything if you're surrounded by large numbers of people.

Signs of drug abuse and misuse

There is not a common list of symptoms that you can use to tell if you or someone you know is misusing drugs. That's because drug use affects different people in different ways depending on the type of drugs they're using.

Anxiety and changing sleeping habits can also be signs of drug use. However, these symptoms can also be caused by changes in your body, stress or other problems.

Drugs and the law

Drugs are categorised into three classes based on their overall level of harm. Class A drugs are the most dangerous and Class C drugs are less dangerous. However, all the drugs in all three classes are harmful and are addictive.

Remember that all categorised drugs are illegal, even Class C drugs like GHB and ketamine. If you're caught selling them onto other people, or carrying a small amount in your pocket, it's likely that the police will get involved. If you're found guilty of any of these offences, you may face a fine or time in custody. Class A drugs carry the most severe sentences.

Be wary of other so called legal highs. The law was changed in April 2010 to change the classification of a group of previously legal highs to illegal Class B drugs. This includes the drug mephedrone (or MCAT).

Just because a substance claims to be legal, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. They can be filled with a range of potentially dangerous chemicals, and exactly what they contain changes all the time. You can never be certain what you have bought, and what the effects might be.

Worried about a friend?

If you suspect that one of your friends or relatives is abusing drugs, you may want to approach them and talk about it.

It's not your responsibility to make them stop, but you can tell them about how their behaviour is affecting your relationship with them.

If they come to you asking for help with their problems, then it's important to listen and help them find the right information and treatment.

Talk to FRANK

If you're worried about drug abuse and addiction, the Talk to FRANK helpline can help.

FRANK runs a free helpline and a website that explains how different types of drugs can affect you. You can get confidential advice by calling 0800 77 66 00, seven days a week. Calls are free and they won't show up on your phone bill, but you may be charged if you use a mobile.

You can also text a question to FRANK on 82111 anytime about drugs and you’ll soon get an answer you can trust.

The cost of sending a text to FRANK is the same as a standard text message, which will depend on your network tariff. There is no charge for receiving text messages from FRANK. Don't send picture messages as FRANK can’t view them.

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