Alcohol, Drugs and Young People
Everyone young person will decide whether to use alcohol and other drugs. Many will try alcohol and other drugs, some will have short term harms, and a few will develop long term problems. Just because a young person tries substances does not mean that they will become dependent. There are lots of reasons why people might want to drink or take drugs, it could be to take their mind off things, fit in, or maybe they are just keen to try it out. But probably, more than anything – young people think it’ll make them feel good.
This can lead to some challenges, some substances can make you feel good at the time but can also cause short-term harms, such as lowering inhibitions and doing things you wouldn’t normally do or have regret later, like unprotected sex or getting into risky situations. For others the risks can be more harmful like the development or worsening of mental health problems like depression and anxiety or losing their sense of reality as well as the increased risk of impulsive or planned suicide. For others substance use can lead to problems with the law and other longer-term problems like dependence or addiction.
No matter why and what substances young people might choose to use, the reality is that young people's bodies are different to adults. Using substances while the brain is developing can cause more longer-term problems compared with when the brain is more developed. Evidence tells us, that the risk of longer-term problems like addiction and dependence increases significantly the earlier and more regularly used before 18 years old.
We support young people to understand their choices and relationship to substance use. This might mean reducing their use or moving toward a substance free life. Making more informed choices can lead to healthier or clearer decisions. We will take the time to get to know you, and the people important to you. We work alongside you in a mana enhancing way, to support you building your self-confidence, your sense of wellbeing, connection to culture and community and to make changes.
For more information
Learn about our Mirror Youth Day Programme
Or our Mirror HQ Addiction Service