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Drugs are chemicals or substances that change the way our bodies work. Some are medicines that help people when doctors prescribe them. Many have no medical use or benefits and can be very dangerous.  

New drugs  ‘legal highs’ are being developed all of the time and protecting young people from the dangers that these substances pose is an absolute priority.   

When taken (usually by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting), abused drugs find their way into the bloodstream. From there, they move to the brain and other parts of the body. In the brain, drugs may intensify or dull the senses, change how alert or sleepy people feel, and sometimes decrease physical pain. 

Because of the way these drugs work on the brain, they affect the ability to make healthy choices and decisions. Even drinking makes people more likely to get involved in dangerous situations, like driving under the influence or having unprotected sex. 

How drugs affect people depends on lots of things:

  • the kind of drug taken
  • how much is taken
  • how often someone uses it 
  • how quickly it gets to the brain
  • what other drugs, food, or substances are taken at the same time
  • the person's body size, shape, and chemistry 

Although substances can feel good at first, they can do a lot of harm to the body and brain. Drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco, taking illegal drugs, even sniffing glue all damage the human body.