Drugs and Alcohol – Children and Young People

Why People Take Drugs

There are lots of reasons why people take drugs. Some people try drugs because friends are doing it or to look popular in front of people. Some people think drugs can help them forget about feeling sad or hopeless, problems at home or problems at school. And some people may like the thought of doing something dangerous or illegal.

Sometimes people are put under pressure to take drugs.

All drugs are potentially dangerous and taking drugs – especially if you are unsure what they are can be fatal.

4 things to remember about taking drugs:

  1. you never know exactly what’s in them (sometimes drugs are mixed with other substances even things which are really harmful)
  2. you can’t be sure how they’ll affect you each time you take them
  3. drugs can have long-term side effects
  4. some drugs are highly addictive and can be hard to stop even if you know they’re bad for you.


Risks of taking Drugs

There are risks in taking any kind of drugs. Some common risks are:

  • damage to your physical and mental health
  • becoming addicted and feeling like you can’t cope without drugs
  • falling behind with school work
  • falling out with family and friends
  • getting into trouble with the police or involved in a crime.
  • being more likely to do dangerous things
  • overdosing or having a bad experience from what you’ve taken, also known as a ‘bad trip’
  • owing money to drug dealers or gangs who may become violent if you can’t pay.


There has been a noticeable increase in the use of Ketamine by young people in Merseyside. There are very real dangers in using this drug which are detailed below.

The effects of Ketamine – according to the website talk to Frank

Physical health risks

Ketamine is a very powerful anesthetic that can cause serious harm. Taking ketamine can be fatal, particularly if it is mixed with other drugs.

Ketamine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. It can make you confused, agitated, delirious and disconnected from reality.

It can make you feel sick, and it can cause damage to your short- and long-term memory.

Because of the body’s loss of feelings, paralysis of the muscles and the mind’s loss of touch with reality, you can be left vulnerable to hurting yourself or being hurt by others.

Because you don’t feel pain properly when you’ve recently taken ketamine, you can injure yourself and not know you’ve done it.

Ketamine can cause serious bladder problems, with the urgent and frequent need to pee. This can be very painful and the pee can be blood-stained. Although stopping using ketamine can help, sometimes the damage can be so serious that the bladder needs surgical repair or even removal.

The urinary tract, from the kidneys down to the bladder, can also be affected and incontinence (uncontrolled peeing) may also develop.

Abdominal pain, sometimes called ‘K cramps’, have been reported by people who have taken ketamine for a long time.

Evidence of liver damage due to regular, heavy ketamine use is emerging. The liver has a range of important functions, such as cleaning your blood and removing toxic substances.

Mental health risks

The longer-term effects of ketamine use can include flashbacks, memory loss and problems with concentration.

Regular use can cause depression and, occasionally, psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations. Ketamine can also make existing mental health problems worse.

Seeking Help

The information in the links below might be helpful to you and lets you know where you can get confidential support. If you are at all worried you can talk to an adult you trust e.g. a teacher or youth worker.

Alternatively you can talk to Childline by calling free on 0800 1111 or online through 1-2-1 counsellor chat.

If you ever have immediate concerns about your own welfare or safety or the safety of another person always dial 999. Always tell someone if you have taken anything, especially if you feel unwell.

Useful Links

Childline – information and advice about drugs, alcohol and smoking from the NSPCC

Talk to Frank – free confidential drugs information and advice, by phone, text or online

Drug Alert: Synthetic Opioids

Nitazenes (a type of synthetic opiate) in the general illicit drug supply are causing overdoses and deaths across the UK.

Previously thought to be found mainly in adulterated illicit heroin, reports are now emerging of nitazenes being found in other illicit drugs, not only opiates.

We are asking anyone in our community who is affected by drugs to be aware of this information, and seek support from your GP or our local Substance Use services if needed:

  • Response (for young people aged 13-19 years) 01516664123 
  • Wirral Ways (for adults aged 18+) 01515561335

To access training for professionals on Nitazene, Ketamine and other substances please go to our training page: Drug & Alcohol Awareness – Wirral Safeguarding Children Partnership


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