Student resources

Common questions

For many people, the past year has been a challenging and stressful time.
During stressful times everyone copes differently. If you are feeling sad, worried, or uncertain, it is important to talk about it and reach out for support. You can find a list of places to get help here.

Below are some practical strategies that can help to promote mental health:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Schedule time with family and friends.
  • Take a break and schedule some fun.
  • Move your body.
  • Keep a thoughts and feelings journal.
  • Talk it through.
  • Avoid using drugs and alcohol.

To read more about the strategies above and looking after your mental health read the full factsheet here.

Students communicating, common questons

What are illegal drugs? Are they all addictive?

Drugs are substances that affect the way your mind and body functions. Drugs can affect the way your brain works, influence your emotions and behaviours, and even your understanding and senses.

If a drug is classified as ‘illegal’ this means it’s forbidden by law, due to the harm it can cause to your health, your life, or the life of others. There are many factors which influence whether someone becomes dependent (addicted), but regular drug use is a common factor.

To learn more about different types of drugs, and drug related terms, check out our glossary and drug information factsheets.

Students communicating, common questons

What are the effects of alcohol and other drugs?

There are many ways that alcohol and other drugs can affect you, both physically and mentally.
Drugs can have ‘depressant’, ‘stimulant’, or ‘hallucinogenic’ effects (read our factsheet to find out more). Alcohol and drugs affect the way that your brain processes and responds to information, as well as how your brain develops. Learn more about how alcohol, cannabis, and MDMA (ecstasy) affect your brain in these videos.

The effects of alcohol and other drugs can differ from person to person based on body size, general health, amount of drug used, the drug’s potency (strength), and the situation in which it is taken. In addition to the immediate or short-term effects, drugs can have effects that persist for hours or even days after the drug is taken.

To learn about the short and long-term effects of specific drugs check out our Drugs A-Z factsheets.

Students communicating, common questons

How many young people use drugs and alcohol in Australia?

Young people often overestimate how commonly drugs and alcohol are used.
The truth is that more and more young people are choosing not to use alcohol or other drugs.  In the past month, among 12-17-year old Australians:

  • 1 in 4 (27%) used alcohol
  • 1 in 12 (8%) used cannabis
  • 1 in 50 (2%) used MDMA/ecstasy
  • 1 in 100 (1%) used heroin
  • 1 in 100 (1%) used hallucinogens
  • 1 in 100 (1%) used methamphetamine
  • 1 in 100 (1%) used cocaine

Students communicating, common questons

What makes drugs addictive?

There are a number of factors that can make it difficult to cut down or stop using alcohol or other drugs. One factor is that, over time, drugs affect how the brain’s “reward pathway” works. As drug use continues, the brain changes and relies on drugs to produce “rewarding” feelings. These feelings are produced by chemicals (e.g., dopamine) that the brain releases when something positive happens (e.g., winning at sport or getting a good grade on a test). When someone uses drugs, their brain is flooded with reward chemicals that are produced due to the drugs. With repeated drugs use, the brain stops releasing (or releases less of) the chemicals. When that happens, more of the drug is needed to get the rewarding feeling. This is called tolerance. The body gets used to this “high” and expects the drug so when people try to cut down or stop using drugs, they experience unpleasant symptoms (shaking, feeling sick) and feelings (sadness, agitation). This is called withdrawal. While this is the most influential factor, there are many other factors that can contribute to dependence (addiction), and they include trauma, family and friend influence and genetics to name a few.

To learn more about different types of drugs and drug-related terms check out our glossary.

Students communicating, common questons

I’m worried about a friend or family member. What should I do?

If you’re worried about a friend or family member‘s drug use then it is a good idea to talk about your concerns with them, in a calm and non-judgemental manner. Before having the conversation, it is useful to gather information about the drug(s) you think they are using and have a clear idea of what it is that’s worrying you.

For more tips on how to support and talk to them see our factsheet on how to help a friend or family member with their drug or alcohol use.

You can also find a list of services for all ages on our where to get help and advice page.

For many people, the past year has been a challenging and stressful time.
During stressful times everyone copes differently. If you are feeling sad, worried, or uncertain, it is important to talk about it and reach out for support. You can find a list of places to get help here.

Below are some practical strategies that can help to promote mental health:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Schedule time with family and friends.
  • Take a break and schedule some fun.
  • Move your body.
  • Keep a thoughts and feelings journal.
  • Talk it through.
  • Avoid using drugs and alcohol.

To read more about the strategies above and looking after your mental health read the full factsheet here.

Get informed

It's important to know the facts and dispel myths about alcohol and other drugs. Positive Choices provides factual and evidence-based information you can rely on. Test your knowledge in our quiz.

Test your knowledge

Cannabis doesn’t affect driving.

Glossary

Heard a term/drug name & not sure what it means?

View glossary of terms
quote

“Students at this age will be very curious about drugs and I believe that if students have this information it will give them an opportunity to learn about drugs and make an educated decision.”

- Male, 15

Evidence-based student drug information booklet

Student booklet

This information booklet is part of a series developed for teachers, parents and students providing evidence-based about illegal drugs, their use and effects

Looking for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander resources?

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Mythbusters: Let's have a yarn about alcohol and drugs

You hear a lot of talk about alcohol and drugs, but how much of it is true? Read this factsheet to find out!

Audience:
student
Evidence Rating:
bronze medal
Factsheet
Let’s yarn about helping a friend or family member who has a drug problem (3 part series)

It can be hard to know what to do when someone you love is using drugs. Read this three part series for what you can do.

Audience:
student
Evidence Rating:
bronze medal
Factsheet

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