Drugs and substance misuse

Drug and alcohol abuse (also called substance misuse) can include alcohol, drugs or glue. Some people who use substances develop a dependence on them which means that they feel the need to use the substance regularly and find it really hard to stop using it.

Over time, this can interfere with a user’s day-to-day life as well as their physical health. They often feel like they need to use the substance to have a good time and to go out with their mates. Drug or alcohol abuse can also affect mental health, with effects from some drugs including paranoia, anxiety and depression.

Some people end up taking a combination of drugs and alcohol to manage withdrawal symptoms, which can be very dangerous and increase the risk of overdose. Likewise, a large majority of street drugs are now cut with other substances, such as chalk, talcum powder or caffeine, meaning that it’s hard to know exactly what you’re taking, especially when the dose of the drug can vary so widely.

When alcohol or drugs become a problem people may do things that are out of character such as commit a criminal act or put themselves in risky situations where they may be taken advantage of or hurt.

SORTED is a confidential service for 11 to 25-year-olds in Hillingdon who are experiencing a drug or alcohol-related problem.
They offer a range of support and treatment options, such as one-to-one counselling, relapse prevention, general health care, and family support.

SORTED also offer an informal personal appointment system and support and advice to family members and friends.

Once you make contact, someone will arrange an appointment with you, so you can:

  • meet and get to know each other
  • identify problems and agree some changes you want to make in your life

If you're ready to speak to someone and tell us what the problem is, call SORTED on 01895 250721.

  • High/low blood pressure

  • Stroke

  • Heart/lung/liver disease

  • Depression

  • Anxiety/panic attacks

  • Psychosis/ paranoia

  • Trouble sleeping

If you think you, or someone you know, has a problem with drink or drugs, you should speak to an adult you trust. This could be a parent or carer, a teacher or your school nurse.

Top tips from FRANK

  1. Remember that you’re not alone. It’s easy to think you’re the only one who’s not tried drugs but, actually, most young people don’t take drugs.

  2. Work out where you stand on issues like sex, drugs and alcohol. Knowing your own mind makes it easier to stay true to yourself.

  3. Prepare yourself. Think about how you’d like to respond when someone offers you drugs so you know what to say.

  4. Try to understand who’s offering you the drugs and why. Friends should understand if you say no, people you don’t know you very well may expect something in return.

  5. Say no firmly but clearly and without making a big deal about it. If they try to persuade you, don’t feel like you have to change your mind.

  6. Remember that, although they may not show it, your mates will respect you more if you’re assertive and clear about what you do and don’t want to do.

  7. Take a look around. You’ll soon see that you’re not the only one worrying about what other people think of you. Try to focus on your own opinion of yourself - in the end, that’s all that matters.

  8. Worried about your mates being pressured? Don’t keep it to yourself, talk to them, or someone you trust.

  9. If you’re finding it hard to be yourself within your group, take a step back, and think about whether it’s time to find a new crowd to hang out with.

  10. Before trying anything new it makes sense to know what’s what. You can find out more about different drugs on the Drugs A to Z or call FRANK on 0300 123 6600 at any time, day or night.

Alcohol can affect people in many different ways, and can be as powerful as other drugs.  It will often exaggerate whatever mood you are in. One drink too many can leave you feeling out of control, for example slurring your words, losing your balance and vomiting. Serious overindulgence can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can put you in a coma or even kill you.

Drinking alcohol causes a wide range of physical and mental health problems, either because of binge drinking or from regularly drinking more than 14 units per week.

There is no completely safe level of drinking, but by sticking within these guidelines, you can lower your risk of harming your health.

Substance misuse can be a hard subject to discuss, especially if you think your friend or relative has a problem.

Try to stay open-minded and remember that, with the right help and support, most people overcome their use before any serious harm is caused. Also, even if you do offer support, they might not change their behaviour.

SORTED is a confidential service for 11 to 25-year-olds in Hillingdon who are experiencing a drug or alcohol-related problem and can provide support and advice to family members and friends. You can call SORTED on 01895 250721.

There is always help available, you or your friend can also call FRANK anytime on 0300 123 6600 for confidential advice or speak to your school nurse, school or trusted adult for support.


A free and confidential support service for children and young people (telephone 0800 1111)


Friendly, confidential drugs and alcohol advice for young people