Alcohol and drugs

Drugs and alcohol can become physically or psychologically addictive and can affect your immediate or long term health, your finances, behaviour, education, job or relationships. It is important to remember that even if a drug is legal, it does not mean that it is safe.


The purchase of alcohol is illegal if you are under the age of 18. An adult is also not allowed to buy alcohol on your behalf if you are under 18.

Although, alcohol is a legal drug, it still has a number of negative effects which include:

  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and inhibitions, making you feel more sociable.
  • Some exaggeration of whatever mood you're in when you start drinking.
  • Causing a wide range of physical health problems, either as a result of binge drinking or from drinking most days of the week over recommended levels. The problems caused by alcohol include cancers, heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, and falls and other accidents.

Who can I talk to?

  • Text your school nurse - for friendly, helpful and confidential advice, text your school nurse on 07507 329 600
  • CAN Northampton offer one to one help and support in battling alcohol problems
  • The Lowdown offer advice and counselling throughout Northamptonshire to young people with alcohol issues
  • Rise Above have lots of interactive advice and support around your questions on alcohol
  • Talk to Frank offer help on dealing with the effects of drinking as well as advice and support and stories
  • The NHS has a whole range of alcohol support, including tips to help you cut down and how to monitor your drinking
  • The National Association of Children of Alcoholics gives support to anyone who has a parent with a drink problem
  • Papyrus provide confidential help and advice to young people to prevent suicide

Watch the video below where musician and The Voice star Tyler James talks about his struggles with alcohol addiction




Illegal drugs are placed into one of 3 classes - A, B or C. This is broadly based on the harms they cause either to the user or to society when they are misused.

The class into which a drug is placed affects the maximum penalty for an offence involving the drug. For example, Class A drugs attract the most severe penalty as they are considered likely to cause the most serious harm. Drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act are illegal to have, produce, give away or sell.

  • Class A drugs include: heroin (diamorphine), cocaine (including crack), methadone, ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, and magic mushrooms.
  • Class B includes: amphetamines, barbiturates, codeine, cannabis, cathinones (including mephedrone) and synthetic cannabinoids.
  • Class C includes: benzodiazepines (tranquilisers), GHB/GBL, ketamine, anabolic steroids and benzylpiperazines (BZP).

Not all drugs are illegal, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t harmful. For example, tobacco and alcohol can seriously damage your health. And recently new 'legal highs' have been developed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs like cocaine and ecstasy but are structurally different enough to avoid being classified as illegal substances. However, they can still have dangerous side effects.

Taking illegal drugs has many risks as there is no control over how they are produced, so you may not know what you are consuming or how much.

The side-effects may also be different and can have dangerous long-term physical and psychological effects.

Legal highs

Legal highs are substances used like illegal drugs such as cocaine or cannabis, but not covered by current misuse of drugs laws. This means they are legal to possess or to use. Just the fact that a substance is sold as ‘legal’ doesn’t mean that it’s safe or legal.  You can’t really be sure of what’s in a ‘legal high’ that you’ve bought, or been given, or what effect it’s likely to have on you or your friends. Effects of legal highs can include reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, coma, seizures and, in a few cases, death.      

Who can I talk to?

  • Text your school nurse - for friendly, helpful and confidential advice, text your school nurse on 07507 329 600
  • CAN Northampton offer one to one help and support in dealing with drug problems
  • The Lowdown offer free drug advice and counselling for young people across Northamptonshire
  • NIDA for Teens is a dedicated site for teenagers covering the risks and facts about drugs
  • Rise Above has interactive tips and advice on the issue of drugs
  • Time 2 Talk offer a helpline and support services on dealing with addiction
  • Talk to Frank have case studies, an A-Z and advice if you know someone who has a drugs problem
  • The Site has alcohol and drugs advice aimed at young people
  • YouthWorks offer drug support sessions for young people in Corby and Kettering
  • Papyrus provide confidential help and advice to young people to prevent suicide

What should I know about supplements?

Some supplements have been scientifically proven to encourage weight loss and increase muscle gain. However, these are not wonder drugs and should be used as part of a ‘well balanced' diet.

Take extra care if you are thinking of buying supplements from the internet. They could be illegal and not been properly tested or approved.

Legal supplements like vitamins and iron tablets are available in pharmacies and health shops. Taken at recommended levels, they can help you stay healthy and fight off infections.