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Drugs - info for school children

drugs; stimulants; depressants; hallucinogen; uppers; illegal; illicit; prescription; downers;


What are drugs?

A drug is a chemical that is not food and that affects your body.

  • Some drugs are given to people by doctors to make them healthy. These are called medicines or prescription (say pre-scrip-shun) drugs. Antibiotics are drugs.
  • Some drugs are natural and can be found in some kinds of food or plants that are not a normal part of a person's diet.
  • Some drugs are illegal which means it is against the law to buy, sell or use them.
  • Some drugs are legal but because they are dangerous to health the law says that you have to be an adult to use them eg alcohol and tobacco.
  • Some drugs are addictive, which means that it is very hard to stop using them even when they are harming your body.

Types of drugs

As you can imagine, there are many different drugs, but we can put some of them into three groups by the effect that they have on the human brain.


(Say stim-you-lants) Sometimes called  'uppers'

drugsThese drugs stimulate the central nervous system into working faster.

  • The heart beats faster.
  • Blood pressure goes higher.
  • It can be hard to get to sleep.
  • The body is so busy it sometimes doesn't feel hungry.
  • People feel more alert and find it easier to do things.

These drugs include caffeine [caff-een], nicotine [nik-o-teen], amphetamines [am-fet-a-meens], cocaine [ko-kayn], ecstasy [ek-stas-ee] and ice.


(say dee-press-ants) Sometimes called  'downers'

These drugs slow down the central nervous system.

drugs - depressants

The heart beats slower.

Blood pressure goes down.

Breathing gets slower.

The body may feel relaxed.

Thinking slows down and the person may feel less anxious.

These drugs include alcohol, tranquillisers (say tran-kwill-eye-zers), cannabis, inhalants (in-hay-lants) and solvents (like glue).


(say hal-loo-sin-o-jens) Sometimes called 'psychedelic' (say s-eye-k-a-del-ik) drugs.

drugs - hallucinogensThese drugs alter how a person feels and thinks.

They can have lots of different effects on the mind.

The senses - sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell - may be affected, giving a false idea of what is happening around the body.

These drugs include LSD and magic mushrooms.

Drugs - some facts and figures

drugs - analgesics

The most common drugs used by kids in SA are analgesics (an-al-jee-zics), sometimes called painkillers.

The most used drug in Australia is caffeine. This is found in coffee, tea and some soft drinks, including most cola drinks and 'energy' drinks.

Tobacco and alcohol cause the most drug-related deaths in Australia.


The law and drugs

  • Our country has laws to protect us from harm.
  • There are laws about what can be put into food and drinks.
  • There are laws which allow us to use some drugs for illness only, with a prescription (script) from the doctor.
  • There are laws which say which drugs can be sold without a script.
There are laws about how old you have to be to buy some drugs.
It is against the law for someone to sell you or give you alcohol or tobacco products unless you are 18 or older.

There are laws which make the buying, growing or using of some drugs illegal. This means that a person could be fined or go to jail for being involved with illegal drugs. These drugs are also called illicit drugs.
drugs - illegal - illicit

Some people don't care about the laws, they only care about making money. These people won't worry if young people take drugs that are addictive. (Addictive means that once you start you don't want to stop.)  

Giving up addictive drugs is very hard. Have a look at our topic about addiction.

Helping your friend

  • drugs - syringeIf your friend or someone in your family is taking drugs which are harmful then it is not 'dobbing' to tell a responsible adult.
  • Tell the teacher if someone has any drugs in school. Any kind of drug, even headache tablets, should be taken to the school office and kept there until needed.
  • If someone you know is using a drug, do some research about the drug and let that person know what you have found out.
  • If you find a syringe or needle, don't pick it up.
    • Tell an adult.
    • If other kids are around, make sure that nobody picks it up.

Dr Kim says

Dr Kim "There are hundreds of helpful drugs in the world today which have made people's lives longer and healthier.

Sometimes people use these helpful drugs too much or when they do not need to. Never take any one else's medication and never give any one else your medication, and never take anything if you don't know what it will do to your mind and body."

This site will tell you more about different drugs 



Some drugs are helpful
Some drugs are bad
Some make you better
While others send you mad.
One thing is certain
Make sure you're no fool.
Only what the doctor orders
Should be your rule.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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