A close-up of a tattooed arm holding a lit cigarette between their fingers with cigarette smoke.
Taking drugs, drinking alcohol or smoking can seriously affect our physical and mental health.

Understanding drugs, alcohol and smoking​

A drug is a chemical which can change how we think, feel and behave. Drugs can be legal, or illegal (against the law). Alcohol and nicotine (which is in cigarettes and most vapes / electronic cigarettes) are drugs which it is legal for adults in Ireland to use.

How can drugs and alcohol affect young people?​

How can nicotine products affect young people?​


They might have asthma attacks or develop breathing problems

Poor performance

Their school work or sports performance might suffer​

Other drugs​

They might begin using other drugs or alcohol​

Why do some young people take drugs, drink alcohol or use nicotine products​

Tips for staying away from drugs, alcohol and nicotine products​

Say no

Don't be afraid to say no​

Walk away​

Walk away or make an excuse if you feel under pressure​

Don't feel you need to​

Stick to your choices and don't feel you need to take drugs, drink alcohol or use nicotine products to fit in

Plan ahead

If you are going to be with people who might make you feel uncomfortable, think about what you might say

Inform yourself

Learn more about how drugs, alcohol and nicotine products can affect your health


Talk to an adult you trust

You have the right to be safe. If you are thinking about using drugs or you are worried about yourself or somebody else using drugs, you can get support and information. 

Some useful websites include:


Ask About Alcohol provides information about alcohol and health.


QUIT offers phone, text and online support and information to help people to quit smoking.


Drugs.ie provides information about the effects of drugs and alcohol as well as a telephone support line.

These links will open a new window in your browser.

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