“I feel spiders on my face”, “I didn’t feel any pain when my hand went through the glass window”, these are just some of the experiences that I hear from young people who abuse alcohol and other drugs.
There is no exact science as to why young people use substances and there is no exact science as to why they continue to use them. What is certain are the impacts that their use has on themselves, others and society. The effects on young people who have a substance addiction are very intense. Substance abuse has been linked to poor mental health, self-harm, homelessness, crime and relationship breakdowns.
Young people use drugs for a variety of reasons such as curiosity, to enhance or minimise a feeling, to cover up previous trauma or abuse and peer pressure. When a young person is trying to avoid or escape a negative feeling they are more likely to continue to abuse the drug and the cycle of addiction starts.
Some of the common substances used by young people that come to our services are alcohol, cannabis and the methamphetamine, Ice. These are some of the impacts that have been observed:
Most recently, we had one young person who put his hand through a window and didn’t feel the pain until the next day where he ended up in hospital because he nearly tore his tendons. There was another young person that described ice as evil because it is one of those drugs that you don’t want to share, so he said you lie to your friends about having it and damage relationships along the way.
In order to treat young people affected by drugs, our Dunlea Alcohol and Other Drug Youth Service provides services such as drug education, harm minimisation strategies, counselling and other information.
There are also services within the community that young people can access for support around the issue of substance use. Supporting young people around their use can be a long process and if you are a family or friend who is helping a young person with their use, you also need to take care of yourselves through this process.
Numbers of services you can contact are:
- Kids helpline: 1800 551 800
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- Mental health crisis line: 1800 011 511
- Cannabis information line: 1800 30 40 50
- Alcohol and Drug Information Service NSW (ADIS): 1800 422 599