A drug is a substance that your body becomes affected by, is dangerous to use and that you can become addicted to.
This text is about drugs that are against the law. These are also known as narcotics.
There are different kinds of drugs. They might be tablets, powder, something you smoke or something you drink. Examples include cannabis, amphetamine, heroin, ecstasy and khat. Some medicines also count as drugs, such as strong painkiller tablets.
Drugs affect you in different ways
Some drugs can make you feel calm or tired, and help you to forget about the world around you. If you use these drugs regularly, your memory will get worse, and you’ll find it difficult to think clearly.
Other kinds of drugs make you feel alert, happy or more confident for a while. You may also suffer from headaches, fever, have a rapid heartbeat or breathing difficulties.
If you have taken drugs lots of times, you may start to feel unwell. This can include feeling restless, suspicious, sad or anxious. You may experience things that aren’t real.
There are better ways of dealing with stress and worry
Some people use drugs to sleep better or to make difficult feelings go away. But these difficult feelings will always come back. There are other, better ways of dealing with stress and worry.
You can end up in bad situations
It’s more difficult to tell the difference between good and bad actions, when you’re under the influence of drugs. Things can happen that you don’t want, dangerous things – such as fights, accidents, unprotected sex or having sex with someone even though you don’t really want to.
You could vomit, fall asleep or become unconscious while under the influence of drugs. There’s a risk of dying.
Damage to the brain and body
Drugs can damage the body in different ways. They can, for example, affect your brain, breathing and heart.
The police can make you take a drug test if you appear influenced by drugs
If you appear influenced by drugs, the police have the right to test you. You may have to give them a urine sample or a blood sample. You have the right to know why they want to test you.
If you’re under the age of 18, the police will tell your parents or guardians, and social services what has happened.
You can become addicted to drugs
Addiction means that the body is used to being influence by drugs. Then you feel terrible if you don´t use drugs. It’s difficult to stop, even if you might want to.
You may become irritated, start sweating, feel ill, suffer heart palpitations or get cramp. You may also suffer from anxiety. Some drugs can quickly lead to addiction.
Drugs affect your life
In the beginning, no-one thinks that they’ll be the one to end up with a drug problem. But after a while, it usually gets more difficult to stay in control. The drugs become important to you, and begin to affect your life more and more.
Other people might be the first to notice that you have a drug problem.
Signs that you have a drug problem
- Your emotions change. You may get irritated, sad or scared more often than before.
- You find it difficult to concentrate and you forget things that have happened.
- Things change in your body, for example you have difficulty sleeping or feel less or more hungry than usual.
- You need more drugs than before to get the same effect.
- You need drugs again, once the effect has worn off.
- You use drugs more often than you thought you would.
- Things get worse for you at school, at work or in other areas that are important to you.
- Your relationships with your family, friends or other people change.
- You have problems with money.
It is possible to stop using drugs
Are drugs a problem in your life? Here are a few things you can do to change that:
- Think about for yourself: What do I want my life to be like? How do I want to feel?
- Tell someone that you have a problem with drugs, such as a friend or an adult that you trust. Having support from other people is really good.
- Get help. Giving up drugs on your own can be very difficult. There are many places that can help you. You can start by contacting a Youth Guidance Centre, a Health Clinic, or a clinic for people who have problems with alcohol or drugs. You can contact your School Health Service or Student Health Service if you’re at school or university.
- Contact social services in your municipality and ask to be put in touch with someone who works with substance abuse and addiction.
- Contact an organisation that works with drug problems by phone, or online.
Health services and social services won’t report you to the police if you are asking for help with your drug problem.
What kind of help can I get?
You’ll get to talk to a person, who works to help young people stop taking drugs. You can meet with them multiple times. You’ll discuss how you can change your situation. You’ll also talk about how you are feeling and what your life looks like.
If you’ve been taking drugs for a long time, giving up can be really difficult. You might need help in the hospital for a short time, until you feel better.
You can get help to talk to your family, or other people who are important to you. It’s common to have problems with your family or with the people you live with, if you use drugs.
You can get help with other things too, such as seeing a doctor or psychologist, if necessary.
It’s good to have someone you know with you, when you’re getting help. That person can help and encourage you.
You can check into a treatment centre
You might check into a treatment centre if you have big problems or can’t live at home. The centre is a place where you can stay, while you are getting help to stop taking drugs.
Are you worried about someone?
- If you’re worried about someone who is under the influence of drugs
Contact an adult, call the healthcare advice line on 1177, or get in touch with the police. Go to the Accident & Emergency ward at a hospital, or a psychiatric emergency care centre if you need help immediately. Call 112 if the person is unconscious.
- If you’re worried about someone who is using drugs
Contact a Youth Guidance Centre or a Health Centre. You can also make an anonymous call to an organisation that works with alcohol and drugs. The number for Narcotics Anonymous (Anonyma Narkomaner) is 0771-138000.