Drug and alcohol information for young people

Learn about drug and alcohol issues affecting young people, resources for students, and where to go for help.

Young people and alcohol

Drinking alcohol is riskier for young people than adults because the brain and liver continue to develop through adolescence. Short-term risks of drinking for young people often relate to the impact of alcohol on coordination and reflexes, as well as decision making.

Learn more about alcohol, including information on its effects, alcohol and the law and treatment on Drug Info's About alcohol page.

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Young people and other drugs

While most young people will not use drugs, some experiment out of curiosity, to have fun, or to fit in with social groups. The reasons young people use drugs might be like the reasons that adults do, such as to relax, or to cope with stress, boredom, sadness or life changes.

Young people may have more difficulty resisting the impulse to experiment with drugs because they may not understand the risks associated. What may seem sensible or rational to an adult might be less obvious to a young person.

Read more

  •  A To Z of drugs - information about a range of different drugs, including the effects on people who use them, drugs in relation to the law and treatment options. 
  • What are drugs?  - an overview on the types of drugs included in Drug Info and some of the key concepts discussed in alcohol and other drug information. 
  • Quick guide to drugs and alcohol - a reference book containing information on a range of  different legal and illegal drugs. This book can be read online or downloaded as PDF chapters.

Useful links 

Drugs and the developing brain

Adolescence and emerging adulthood are periods of significant brain growth and development. Scientists call the adolescent brain highly 'neuroplastic' because it is a time of organising, construction and strengthening of connections in the brain.

The Respect Your Brain animated video series focuses on the impact of five drugs commonly used in Australia and explores the way these drugs affect a young person’s developing brain. The videos explain how different drugs can affect brain development and which areas of the brain are affected.

Respect Your Brain

Drugs and mental health

Alcohol and other drugs affect chemicals in the brain responsible for regulating feelings and social behaviour. Alcohol and other drugs can deplete or change the levels of these chemicals, causing short- and long-term impacts on mental health concerns.

Everyone is different but for most people their first experience of mental health problems will arise early in life. Teens are particularly vulnerable to developing mental health problems, because adolescence is a period where organising, construction and strengthening of connections in the brain is happening.

Read more on Drug Info's Mental health page.

Young people and the law

There are a number of laws in NSW designed to protect young people (under 18s) from being sold alcohol and tobacco and from being given or from consuming alcohol. You can read more on the Alcohol, tobacco and young people page.

In NSW, it is an offence to possess, use, produce or supply a drug which has been declared prohibited. Find out more about drug laws in NSW on the Drugs and the law page.

For students

Drug Info includes a range of useful information for students, including drug and alcohol statistics, a PDHPE research guide and other school resources.

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Finding help and support

Find information about support or treatment options for alcohol and other drugs.