Drugs and alcohol

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Don't delay getting help

Substance use is one of the most common and yet preventable risks to a young person’s health and development.

Smoking, drinking and trying drugs is one of the most common ways in which young people may push boundaries. There are things you can do to help your child, but if you think your child may be using alcohol or drugs to help them cope with worries or mental health problems, go to your GP. 

Alcohol changes the way people act and affects their decision making. The more they drink, the less careful they are. This can have serious consequences when it comes to sex and their personal safety.

It is illegal for people under the age of 18 to buy alcohol, it is also illegal for an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under 18. Alcohol affects different people in different ways and also affects young people differently to adults.

How alcohol can affect children and young people:

  • They are more susceptible to alcohol poisoning. This can lead to passing out, diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Alcohol kills brain cells. Drinking too much while your brain is still developing can cause long-term problems with memory and attention span
  • Not just alcoholics get liver disease, regularly drinking too much can increase their chance of damaging their liver. There are no warning signs, they may not realise anything is wrong until the damage is very serious
  • Alcohol is high in caloried so drinking can make them put on weight. It also dehydrates the body and can make their skin look pale and grey
  • As drinking impairs judgement it can make them more likely to end up in risky situations. Alcohol affects their decision making skills and lowers their inhibitions, increasing the chance they'll make decisions which they wouldn’t normally, such as having unprotected sex, getting in a fight or walking home alone at night.
  • Lots of young people have at some point experienced ‘cybershame’, by compromising photos being posted online. With it becoming more common for potential universities and employers to look at applicants’ social media profiles, photos of drunken behaviour are not the kind of thing you want them to stumble across.


Most young people don't take drugs

But you probably can’t stop your child from coming into some contact with drugs, but by staying as informed as possible, you can help them make the right choices when they do.

For more information visit: FRANK

Get help for drugs and alcohol use

Early Break provides a free and confidential service to all young people (under 19s) who would like some help or advice. If your child would like some some support with their substance use you can refer to Early Break using the form below and send it back to: info@earlybreak.co.uk 


Or you can contact the service by telephone: 0161 723 3880

Early Break leaflet


Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
T: 0161 770 7777

All content © 2023 Oldham Safeguarding Children Partnership

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