When we talk about “drugs”, we mean illegal or street drugs, volatile substances (such as gases, glues and aerosols) and so called ‘legal highs’. Drugs affect almost every organ of the body, can cause permanent damage and affect people in different and unpredictable ways.

Drugs and health

Just like alcohol, getting high on drugs reduces your ability to make good decisions. This makes you more likely to take big risks like having unprotected sex.

Drugs can damage your health in the short and long-term and lead to a life-threatening addiction. They can cause a weakened immune system (making you more likely to get infections), heart problems, liver damage, liver failure, seizures, strokes, and even brain damage.

Using illegal or street drugs during pregnancy can have a serious effect on your unborn baby. If you regularly use drugs and are pregnant, seek medical advice from your GP, maternity team or specialist treatment service before doing anything. Stopping quickly may cause further problems and side effects.

Taking drugs can make good sex go bad. They can make you clumsy, less able to have an orgasm, unable to get and keep an erection, and may make sex more painful for women.

Staying safe

Being high on drugs makes you more vulnerable to sexual assault and more likely to do things you wouldn’t want to do if you were sober. If someone tries to have sex with you and you don’t want to, you always have the right to say no.

Possession of a controlled drug, which hasn’t been prescribed to you, is against the law and could lead to a criminal record.

Cocaine is one of the most common illegal drugs. It includes powder cocaine (coke), freebase and crack. These can give a really powerful high, powerful comedown (negative feelings once the high has worn off) and are highly addictive. Two people describe how the drug nearly ruined their lives in this video.

Getting help

Your GP can help by listening to your concerns and supporting you to choose the best treatment for you. They might also be able to treat you or refer you to your local specialist drug service. You don’t always need to talk to your GP for a referral though, as many drug treatment services accept self-referrals.

FRANK offers friendly, confidential drugs advice, including information on the different types of help available and the services available in your area. The FRANK helpline is open every day, 24 hours a day on 0300 123 6600 and you can text 82111. They also have live chat every day.

“Know the score” gives you the real facts about illegal drugs and the consequences of taking them. They also run a free Drugs Helpline between 8am and 11pm on 0800 587 5879.

Turning Point is one of the largest providers of substance misuse services in England and offer a range of drug and alcohol services to help people recover from addiction and gain control of their lives. You can call them on 020 7481 7600.

Talking to your children

Back to top