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What are drugs?

Put simply, a drug is a chemical substance that has an effect on you when you take it. There are lots of different kinds of drugs and people take them for a variety of reasons. Some people abuse drugs, which can be dangerous.

Legal drugs can be bought over-the-counter, for example at a supermarket or a chemist. Common legal drugs include painkillers and cough medicines, coffee and cigarettes. Some legal drugs can only be given out by health professionals like doctors, who have to provide a prescription for them.

Safe or not?

Just because a drug is legal, that doesn’t necessarily make it ‘safe’. Some legal drugs are dangerous if misused. Alcohol is one example, if you consume it at risky or dangerous levels. Painkillers and other over-the-counter medicines can also be misused, and you can overdose on them.

Illegal drugs are substances banned by law, this includes drugs intended for medical purposes that have been changed in a way that can make them dangerous. Ecstasy, cannabis and heroin are examples. Illegal drugs can be extremely dangerous and addictive, and those who make, deal and distribute them can get into a lot of trouble.

Effects of drugs

If you take drugs, either legal or illegal, the effects and consequences can differ considerably depending on a range of factors. These include how much you take, whether you can tolerate the drug or not, your weight, and even how much food or drink you had before taking the drugs in question.

So for example, if you take painkillers according to the instructions on the packaging, they can get rid of a headache, but if you take too many, the result can be fatal. It’s the same with coffee or cigarettes. If you’re sensible they can give you a pleasant buzz, but too much or too many can make you ill, or cause death, in very extreme cases.

Although recreational drugs can sometimes make you feel more confident, happier and chattier, they can also make you feel paranoid and depressed. The charity Frank has lots of information on drug types, names and their effects. If you need or want to know more, visit the Frank website.

Tips for staying safe

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Don’t’ be too hard on yourself. Try to identify if you are using drugs as a way of coping with situations like abuse, bullying or anxiety. Talk to someone you trust.

Be informed about the drugs that you are taking including the risks. For information on staying safe, visit the Talk to Frank website or give them a call 0300 123 6600 open twenty four hours a day seven days a week.

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See your GP or school nurse who can help you find the right support and strategies such as Mindfulness.

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Do something different like taking up a hobby that can distract you from the urge to take the drugs

Local support & information

The Bridge project is a Bradford-based charity with the mission of helping individuals and families to achieve recovery from addictions.

Project 6 is an award winning voluntary drug and alcohol charity based in Keighley & Airedale. They work to reduce the harm caused by substance misuse and reach out to those who have decided to make a positive change in their lifestyles.

If you think that you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol then you can get some help and support from the Bradford Young people's drug and alcohol service (YPDAS).

The Piccadilly Project is a Bradford-based advice service offering support, information and counselling to people concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking.

Relate Bradford are a local charity that offer a counselling service for young people for all kinds of personal issues including addiction and offer workshops, consultations and support face-to-face and by phone.

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