Info and Advice

Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking

Taking drugs, drinking alcohol or smoking can seriously affect our physical and mental health.
A teenage girl walks away from a group of other teenagers who may be about to engage in illegal behaviour

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?
  • They may not behave like they normally do and may make bad decisions
  • They might not be aware of what is going on around them and might put themselves in danger
  • They might get into trouble with the law, become addicted or overdose 
  • They might lose friends
  • They might say hurtful things to those around them
  • Their school work might be affected
  • They might become angry, tired, sleepy or quiet
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
  • For the buzz / to have fun
  • To fit in, perhaps because others are doing it and they feel under pressure to do the same
  • To feel grown-up, to act older, to fit in with older friends
  • To try to cope with problems, or feel as though they are escaping from problems
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. provides information about the effects of drugs and alcohol as well as a telephone support line. 

These links will bring you away from the Childline website. You can press the back button on your device to come back to the Childline site.

Contact Childline

Childline is always here to listen and to support you. You can call Childline on 1800 66 66 66 (24 hours a day), text Childline on 50101 (10am – 4am every day) or chat with Childline online

Talking helps!


1800 66 66 66