The STA Foundation

Drugs and Alcohol

What are Drugs?

A drug is a medicine or other substance which, when taken into the body, effects its physical or psychological function. Drugs may be legal (caffeine, alcohol or tobacco) or illegal (cocaine, heroin or cannabis).

What is Alcohol

Alcohol is the ingredient found in beer, wine and spirits that causes drunkenness.  It is effectively a drug.  It is classed as a depressant, meaning that it slows down vital functions in the body.  These could be slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly.

The effects of Drugs:

Short term effects:

  • Changes in appetite and lack of nutrition
  • Variation in levels of alertness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Changes in mood
  • Violence and injury
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Overdose
  • Psychosis
  • Death

Long terms effects:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Cancer
  • Mental health problems
  • Hepatitis
  • Addiction
  • Inability to control stress levels
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Incapable of learning
  • Memory problems
  • Changes in relationships
  • Criminal activity or involvement

The effects of Alcohol:

  • Shrinking brain
  • Behaviour changes
  • Dependency
  • Black outs
  • Hallucinations
  • Slurred speech
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Reduced appetite
  • Heart damage
  • Liver damage
  • Lung infections
  • Gastro problems
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Thinning bones
  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle cramps
  • Problems with coordination
  • Numbness

How can The STA Foundation help?

We will deliver a talk and a presentation at your organisation informing the recipients about drugs and alcohol, its effects, who they can speak to and where help can be obtained.

Call us on freephone 0800 038 9807 or email on info@thestafoundation.org

What are the causes for using drugs and alcohol?

Some of the reasons why children or young people may turn to drugs and alcohol are:

  • To fit in – pressure from peers who are already using drugs and alcohol.
  • To escape, cope or relax – a person may be encountering a stressful situation or difficult feelings, so drugs and alcohol become their escape.
  • To relieve boredom – lack of social activities especially in deprived areas can lead to drug and alcohol abuse.
  • To seem grown up – because children or young people may have observed adults using drugs and alcohol so from their perspective, this is a grown-up thing to do.
  • To experiment – because they have never experienced drugs and alcohol, a child or young person may want to “give it a try” to have a new experience.
  • To enjoy themselves – a person may like the taste and the feeling it gives of increased confidence, energy or relaxation.
  • Because they can – drugs and alcohol may be easily accessed so why not?
  • To ‘self-medicate’ mental health problems of depression, stress and anxiety.
  • Home life – parents may use drugs and alcohol and not discipline the children. There may also be addiction in the family.  Divorce or conflict may cause a child or young person to use drugs and alcohol.

Drug and alcohol statistics

  • In 2018 in England, 44% of pupils aged 11-15 in England reported having ever drunk alcohol. Of these, 14% of 11-year olds reporting ever having drunk an alcoholic drink, compared to 70% of 15-year-olds. 6% of pupils said they drank alcohol at least once per week, but for 15-year olds this went up to 14%. (Source: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/alcohol-facts/fact-sheets/alcohol-statistics)

A survey was conducted of pupils in secondary schools across England to provide national estimates and information on the smoking, drinking and drug use behaviours of young people aged 11 – 15.

  • 46% of girls and 43% of boys said they had ever had a drink. Whether a pupil had drunk alcohol was related to their age, increasing from 15% of 11-year olds to 73% of 15-year olds.
  • Pupils were most likely to drink at weekends. Of pupils who had drunk in the last week, 68% drank on Saturday, 42% drank on Friday, and 28% drank on Sunday. On other days of the week, between 5% and 7% of pupils drank.
  • 9% of pupils said they had been drunk in the last four weeks, including 7% of pupils who had been drunk once or twice, and 2% more often. Girls (11%) were more likely to have been drunk in the last four weeks than boys (7%).  The proportion of pupils who reported having been drunk in the last four weeks increased with age. (Source https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-alcohol/2018/part-5)

Drug use among children (England)