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Drug misuse

  • 5-11 Years
  • 11-19 Years
  • SEND
  • Staying safe and accident prevention
Teenage girl sitting on bed looking upset and concerned with her arms crossed and resting on her knees.

Children and young people are less likely to take drugs than drink alcohol, but some children may experiment. It is just as important to talk with your child openly and honestly about drugs, the risks and their effects. 

The laws around drugs

It’s normal to feel worried about your child doing drugs. Of those that do experiment, most of them don’t become regular users. There are serious risks involved in taking drugs.

The law around drugs is more complex than alcohol. Drugs are split into 3 categories which each have different laws. Being found with drugs can lead to a criminal record.

Smoking and vaping

Some young people may try smoking or vaping. In the UK it is illegal to buy cigarettes or vaping products if you are under 18, or for an adult to buy them for an under 18 year old. It's important to talk to your young person about vaping so they can make an informed choice. Read more about vaping and smoking. 

Learn more about drugs

It can be hard to keep up to date with the facts surrounding the latest drugs. Frank offers free, honest and practical advice through its drugs A to Z list. This includes the different names of a drug, how it looks, the risks, effects and the law. 

The effects of taking drugs

Being found with drugs can lead to a criminal record. Other negative effects of taking drugs include:

  • feeling tired, unwell, or increased spots
  • long-term health problems such as liver or kidney damage
  • mental health problems such as panic attacks or depression
  • a risk of overdosing
  • doing things and behaving in a way that is out of character
  • becoming addicted

Read more about the effects of taking drugs.

Teaching your child about drug misuse

Five teenagers in school uniform smiling and laughing whilst walking down the road.

Need more specific support for your child?

If your child needs more help or has additional needs, you can visit our specific section for extra support.

Staying safe and accident prevention for additional needs

Last reviewed: 1 November, 2023

Where to get help for alcohol and substances

Local services in Cambridgeshire


This service provides information, support and specialist treatment in Cambridgeshire to under 18’s experiencing drug and alcohol problems. They also offer support for the families. Read more about how CASUS can help.  

CASUS accept self-referrals. A teacher, health professional, school or support worker can also make a referral. But they must have the young person’s consent.  

Read more about referring to CASUS.  

Local services in Peterborough

Change, Grow, Live

Change, Grow, Live (CGL) is a free and confidential drug and alcohol service. They are there to support young people aged 10 to 18. They also offer an online chat for people under 21. 

Read more about CGL.

Find further help at: 

Where to get help for smoking and vaping

  • Stop smoking - Healthy You provides both smoking and vaping support for children and young people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
  • Quit smoking - Better Health.
  • You can also call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.

Who can help

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s substance misuse, a health professional in our team will be able to offer advice and support.

You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation.

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays).

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