Is drinking (or taking drugs) at an early age bad for you?

Here are some interesting facts:

  1. Did you know that your brain is rapidly developing while you’re a teenager? How it develops will be shaped by the experiences you have during these years. That’s why using drugs and alcohol as a young person can cause more damage than at other ages.
  2. Did you know that half of the people in New Zealand who are dependant on alcohol became dependant before they were 19 years old. That’s how much easier it is for harmful patterns to be created during a person’s teenage years.
  3. Did you know that because a teenage body is different to an adults, the way alcohol affects it is different? Teenage bodies don’t show as much of the physical signs that too much alcohol has been drunk compared to adults, even though inside the body the alcohol is still having an impact. This means that things like slurring words, or losing coordination happen at a later stage of drunkenness for teenagers than adults. Don’t use those as signs that too much alcohol has been drunk!

There are also things like where and when the drugs and alcohol are used that can cause problems. Being out of it in an unfamiliar or unsafe place isn’t a good idea. The same goes for school or a job!

Is it ok to drink or take drugs when I feel stressed?

It’s not a good idea, and here’s why. They can change how a person feels for a few minutes, but they don’t make the problem go away, and generally they make the problem worse. When someone is stressed, do they really need more worry about what happened when they were out of it?

There’s another reason, and this one is a bit more hidden. We all learn from what we experience. Each time that we feel angry, stressed, or sad, we learn how to handle it. And it takes practice to master handling our emotions. But if we only use drugs and alcohol to change how we feel at those times, we don’t get the opportunity to learn how to handle our feelings. Being someone with the skills to handle ourselves and how we feel is something we can all aim for.

What are standard drinks?

In New Zealand, every alcoholic drink has to have a label that says the number of standard drinks it contains. Each standard drink takes at least one hour to leave the body. If you choose to drink, counting the number of standard drinks is a good way to know how long it will take for the alcohol to get out of the body.

How will I know if I have a problem with alcohol or drugs?

Forget about the movies! Having a problem doesn’t necessarily mean everything is terrible around you. It could be noticing that your attendance at schools is dropping, or you’ve been late to work most of the week because you’re hungover. Each person is different, and we can help if you want to figure out if you have any problems, or even if you just want tips on how to make small changes so you can keep up with school, sports, or other commitments. Contact us here

How do I know if I need help?

If you feel that your drug and alcohol use is affecting your life in negative ways, it is always best to deal with it as soon as possible. Some of the information on this site might help or you can contact us here

We can help you identify the type of support you might need.

Am I alone in seeking help or advice about drugs and alcohol?

Not at all! Many young people have questions or are having a tough time with drugs and alcohol. We work with lots of young people with various challenges like drug and alcohol use, mental illness, family problems and feeling left out. Talking things through with someone else is a good thing and can help you feel on track.

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How long do drugs stay in your body?

Drugs stay in your system for different periods of time – it depends on what you took. It’s also important to know that your body stores drugs differently in different parts of the body. For example, alcohol stays in your blood and saliva for 12-24 hours, your urine for 6-24 hours, and your hair for 2 days; while amphetamine stays in your blood and saliva for 12 hours, urine for 1-3 days and hair for up to 90 days! Cannabis can be tested for in urine 4-6 weeks after.

What is addiction?

Addiction is when a person does not have control over what they are using or doing. There are many different names that have been given to this pattern, and you may have heard people using terms like alcoholism, dependence, or abuse.