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Children and Young People

Drugs and Alcohol

Worried for yourself or a friend? Call the MASH team 0161 770 7777

Alcohol and Drugs Misuse

Few social issues impact so comprehensively on society as substance misuse. Alarmingly, children and young people are increasingly misusing alcohol and illegal drugs. Consequences range from non-attendance and poor attainment at school to poor health and committing crime to support 'habits'. You are also at an increased risk of being a victim of violent crime and sexual exploitation.

Many children and young people who live with substance misusing parents and carers are suffering its ill effects. They are often neglected, suffer from domestic violence and are at an increased risk of misusing alcohol and illegal drugs themselves. If this is happening to you or a friend, Barnardos have advice, information and support available from their website.


Alcohol can make you do things you regret, including having sex. Alcohol changes the way you act and affects your decision making. The more you drink, the less careful you are. This can have serious consequences when it comes to sex and your 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 YOU:

  • You are more susceptible to alcohol poisoning. This can lead to passing out, diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Drinking too much while your brain is still developing can cause long-term problems with memory and attention span
  • It's not just alcoholics that get liver disease, regularly drinking too much can increase your chance of damaging your liver. As there are no warning signs, you may not realise anything is wrong until the damage is very serious
  • Alcohol contains nearly as many calories as fat, meaning drinking can make you put on weight. It also dehydrates the body and can make your skin look pale and grey
  • As drinking impairs judgement it can make you more likely to end up in risky situations.  It affects your decision making skills and lowers your inhibitions, so you could make decisions which you 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’, caused 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.

Further information on Alcohol Key Messages to Young People is available here.


Taking drugs can be a deadly gamble as everyone reacts differently.

Due to various things - the drug itself, the amount taken, where you take it, who you take it with, how you're feeling at the time - you can never tell how it will affect you and make you act or feel. Each time the effect could be massively different.

There’s no way to know exactly what’s in the drug you're taking. YOU could be putting anything into your body which is a dangerous and potentially deadly thing to do. Taking drugs can have a bad effect on your physical and mental health, relationships and personal safety. It can lower inhibitions and make you do things that you'll later regret.

NEVER mix drugs or take drugs and alcohol together as this can make the effects very different from what you were expecting. It could result in you taking too much which could lead to an overdose. Some drug combinations can be deadly.

Illegal drugs fall into three classes based on their strength and overall level of harm. If you are caught selling them to other people, or carrying any on you, you can find yourself in serious trouble with the law. 

Find Help

Oasis at Positive Steps provides a free and confidential service to all young people (under 19s) who would like some help or advice.

They can help you reduce or stop your drug and/or alcohol use. They are flexible with their approach and can work around your needs. They can see you at school, college, home, The Centre in Oldham or other suitable venues. They will assess and complete an action plan with you, setting realistic goals and, where needed, will find other agencies to support all your needs. Find out more about OASIS.

OASIS operates a referral system and anyone can refer children and/or young people including: the young person themselves, parents/guardians/carers, or professionals from any agency. All we ask is that the young person is aware of the referral and consents to it being made.

OASIS opening hours : Monday-Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm (closed weekends and bank holidays)

OASIS contact details : Positive Steps, Medtia Place, 80 Union Street, Oldham, OL1 1DJ.

Freephone : 0800 988 2208

email :

OASIS is part of the Integrated Sexual Health & Substance Misuse Health Service Offer along with Brook Oldham. Brook is a free, confidential contraception and sexual health service to anyone under the age of 21, living in the Oldham Borough. Brook Oldham has an online appointment booking system with 4 easy clicks and includes same day appointments. You can also use the Ask Brook 24/7 online service.

Brook Oldham Opening hours : Mon - Fri 10.00am - 5.30pm (Appointments and Drop In). Sat 12.00pm - 01.00pm Drop In (Closed Sundays and Bank Holidays)

Address : Positive Steps, Medtia Place, 80 Union Street, Oldham, Ol1 1DJ Freephone : 0800 988 2209

Other places to find information, help and support are:

Worried for yourself or a friend? Call the MASH team on 0161 770 7777