Main Menu

Drugs and Alcohol

You might see your friends experimenting with drugs and alcohol and it’s got you curious. It’s important to know that drugs can be harmful. Learn how they can impact your body and mind and who can help.

Teenager being pressured by his friends to have a drink of alcohol

What are drugs?

A drug is a chemical that changes how your body and mind work.

The most common types of drugs are:

  • Everyday substances - coffee and prescription medication
  • Legal (for people over 18) – cigarettes and alcohol
  • Illegal – speed, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis (marijuana)

Most drugs are illegal for people under the age of 18, as they’re very harmful to your health and wellbeing.

Why do people use drugs?

There are lots of reasons why someone might use drugs and alcohol. Some people use drugs to:


Feel good


Feel confident

Fit in with friends

Cope with feelings

Escape feelings


What are the risks of using drugs?

Because drug use can have serious risks, most drugs are illegal for people under 18.

Drugs can be harmful to your mind and body, especially while you're still growing and changing.

Other problems that drugs can cause are:

  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death
  • Illness or injury
  • Loss of friendships
  • Problems at home
  • Impact on school work
  • Poor decision making
  • Trouble with the law
  • Negative side effects eg dehydration, feeling sick
  • Issues with memory, problem solving and learning

Who can help?

If you’re thinking about using a drug, or worry about your own or someone else’s drug use, here’s who can help:

Kids Helpline
Doctor or nurse
School counsellor
Trusted adult

Vaping myths & facts

Have you ever been curious about trying vaping? Or maybe you’re trying to give it up?

Here are the facts you need to know!

Vaping is the inhaling of a vapour created by electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), or 'vapes'. Vapes come in lots of different flavours, which can sound appealing to use/try - and they are often marketed in a way that makes them seem like a safe alternative to smoking. Most e-cigarettes actually contain nicotine and other harmful substances, which can be addictive and be harmful for your health.

How can counselling help?

Counselling can be a way to help you:

Talk about what’s worrying you

Understand why you’re drawn to using drugs and alcohol

Talk about how drugs and alcohol can affect you

Find out information, tips and who else can help

Find ways to cope without using drugs and alcohol

Help you weigh up the pros and cons of drug and alcohol use

Learn how to limit drug and alcohol use

Learn ways to reduce the risks

Tips for staying away from drugs and alcohol

It can be hard to turn down the offer of drugs or alcohol in the moment, especially when you’re hanging out with friends.

Here are some suggestions that can help:

  • Learn more about certain types of drugs and the impact they can have

  • Don’t be afraid to say no – if they’re true friends they’ll respect your choice

  • Talk about it with your friends – share your worries around drug use so they know not to pressure you into doing something you don’t really want to do

  • Walk away or make an excuse to leave if you feel pressured or uncomfortable

  • Plan ahead – if you think there might be drugs or alcohol at a party, plan what you might say or do if you get into an uncomfortable situation

  • Be true to yourself – stick by your choices and don’t give in to the need to ‘fit in’

  • Talk to someone – if you’re feeling pressured or have concerns around drug use, talk to someone you trust

"Everybody is different. We can help you figure out where you stand with drugs and alcohol."

Remember, you’re not alone

Kids Helpline is always open.

Give us a call, start a WebChat or email us today.

If you need more information for other services and resources, check out Head to Health.

This content was last reviewed 28/04/2023

Was this information useful?

Help us by rating this page:

Thanks for your feedback!

Thanks for your feedback!

Talking helps! We’re here for you.

No problem is too big or too small.
We're here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week