Alcohol & drugs....take care, stay safe
It’s important to be well informed at any time about alcohol & drugs and the effects and consequences. It’s also important to know that there is non judgemental help and support out there for you.
We asked you about your experience of alcohol & drugs when it comes to sex or relationships and it is clear that young people often recognise the risks they take in terms of having sex (when they might otherwise not do so). This can include sex with friends, sex outdoors, lack of memory about what they have done and not using condoms. They recognise that under the influence of alcohol or drugs our judgement about the decisions we make are affected.
"Alcohol is fun to drink at parties, but it shouldn't get involved in sex. If someone has had enough to drink to get kind of drunk, then they cannot make decisions on what they want to do with their body and it is sexual assault or rape. When it comes to relationships yeah it's fun to get drunk with your S.O but if it's too often, all that you do, makes the other person uncomfortable or the person seems to have a problem then it can seriously mess up relationships." (Female 17)
"Makes you have a good time, some people use it to forget about all the bad things in their life. "(Male 17)
There are lots of reasons why you might be thinking about drinking alcohol or taking drugs. You might feel pressure to keep up with your friends, you might think it can help distract you from worries or problems in life, or you might see adults drinking at social and family events, or on TV and in films. It can be difficult to understand the dangers and risks of alcohol if your friends and family are drinking. You might ask yourself, if other people are doing it, then why shouldn’t I?
…….under the influence
Alcohol & drugs alters the way you behave and your emotional & mental state. It can make you more impulsive and cause you to make decisions that you wouldn’t normally make, such as:
- It’s easy to forget about using a condom or taking the pill which could leave you vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, an unintended pregnancy or a night you regret with someone you don’t even fancy. It can put you at risk of having sex without being able to consent, and leave you feeling bad about yourself.
- Getting into fights or become involved in illegal activities
- Making decisions about the amount you drink ….alcohol can affect your ability to regulate how much you are drinking, causing you to drink more alcohol than you meant to.
- You may pressure someone into sexual activity, when they have been drinking or taking drugs. No one can consent to sexual activity of any kind if they have been drinking or taking drugs. If you pressure someone in this situation you could get charged with sexual assault or rape.
- Choosing to have sex for the first time can make you feel a range of different emotions whether you are a boy or girl. You might feel excited, stressed, scared and nervous all at once. Because of these conflicting feelings, some people drink when they are thinking about having sex for the first time – and that means any sexual activity, not just penetrative sex. Since alcohol, like other drugs, lowers your inhibitions, drinking can seem like a good idea if you’re nervous about being naked in front of another person, or worried about ‘getting it right’ in bed.
- Alcohol affects men’s sexual performance as well and this can lead to feelings of low self esteem and worry. CLICK HERE
- NEVER drive under the influence or go in a vehicle where someone is under the influence.
What the law says…
If you’re under 18, it’s against the law:
- for someone to sell you alcohol
- to buy or try to buy alcohol
- for an adult to buy or try to buy alcohol for you
- to drink alcohol in licensed premises (such as a pub or restaurant)
If you’re 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult, you can drink (but not buy) beer, wine or cider with a meal.
You can be stopped, fined or arrested by police if you’re under 18 and drinking alcohol in public.
Getting a criminal record could make it more difficult to get a job in the future, or travel to certain countries like the USA.
The safest thing you can do is not to drink alcohol. If you are drinking alcohol or taking drugs, there are some things you can do to try and reduce the danger:
- Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs alone, or in dangerous places.
- Have a sober friend within your group.
- Don’t pressure your friends
- Educate yourself
Even if you have drunk alcohol before, it doesn’t mean you have to drink every time. Building up a tolerance to alcohol increases your risks.
Find out more about NPS (New Psychoactive Substances) HERE
Find out about Image & performance drugs HERE
It’s easy to get carried away and mix substances, and sometimes this gets out of hand.
Always call an adult or the emergency services on 111 if anyone in your group passes out or is so drunk they cannot function. You will possibly save a life, and this is far more important that the short term consequences that you might face from parent/carers or the police.
If you have been assaulted in any way during a night out do not hesitate to inform someone. CLICK HERE
No one can consent to any sexual activity when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and if you know or think that you have been sexually assaulted or raped then it is important to call the police or get support through a local agency that can help you. Click HERE for more info.
Unprotected sex: if you are a male, this means you may have risked getting an STI, and you will need to get a sexual health screening at your nearest clinic. If you are a female you can get EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION up to 5 days afer unprotected sex.
If you feel you are getting drunk regularly, drinking in excess when you’re alone or dependent on alcohol, you may wish to seek further help.
Talk to Frank gives excellent information on effects, the law and support on all issues to do with drugs & alcohol.
Drink Aware has information about alcohol units, the consequences of alcohol, and where to get further support.
The Mix provides non judgemental information & support on a range of issues for young people
Where ever you live, you can access help through your school by contacting your guidance teacher, or asking to speak to the specific service that provides support in your area. Check the SERVICE section for support in your area