Drug misuse can be harmful to your health in both the short term and the long term, and could possibly lead to addiction.

Although some drugs are prescribed by a doctor for illnesses, when people talk about drugs they usually mean drugs that are illegal or unsafe.


It can be incredibly hard to say ‘no’ to your friends and peers, especially if they’re all using drugs. If they’re trying to get you involved in something that you don’t want to do, this may make you feel scared and lonely.

You could try:

  • being assertive so you can voice how you feel without being unkind or forceful
  • talking to someone you trust, or asking an adult for help
  • thinking about what feels right for you and if these friends are your true friends


Drugs are chemicals that affect the body and brain. Different drugs can have very different effects. However, some effects of drugs include health consequences that continue even after a person has stopped taking the substance.

Side effects of drug addiction may include:

  •  a weakened immune system, increasing the risk of illness and infection
  • serious heart conditions
  • nausea and abdominal pain, which could also lead to changes in appetite and weight loss
  • seizures, stroke, mental confusion and brain damage
  • lung disease
  • problems with memory, attention and decision-making, which make daily living more difficult

More than 7 million people suffer from illicit drug use disorder and one in four deaths can be attributed to alcohol, tobacco, and illicit or prescription drug use.


It may be difficult to recognise that you have a problem with drugs, however, as well as your friends and family spotting the signs, you may also notice you have a drug problem if:

  • you worry about when you’ll have drugs next
  • depend on drugs to relax or to feel calm
  • use drugs to cope with stressful situations
  • find it difficult to remember how much you’ve taken in one day
  • notice changes in your relationships with friends and family
  • think about drugs a lot



Your GP is a good place to start if you need treatment for drug addiction, you’re entitled to NHS care in the same was as anyone else who has a health problem.

Your GP will discuss your problems with you and get you into treatment.

If you’re not comfortable talking to your GP, you can approach your local drug treatment service yourself.