Drugs and Alcohol

A drug is something which can be legal (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine for example) or illegal (cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy for example). They affect the way the body behaves physically and/or psychologically. 


There are 5 main types of drugs: depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, painkillers or performance enhancers. Some organisations believe there to be further categories but for the purposes of simplicity, we shall refer to those 5. There are also Legal Highs and these can affect the body in exactly the same way as many illegal drugs. Although they are controlled to some level, this does not mean they are safe to use.


  • Depressants:Slow the brain down – eg alcohol, temazepam
  • Stimulants: Increases activity in the brain – eg caffeine, ecstasy
  • Hallucinogens: Affect what is seen and heard – eg LSD, magic mushrooms
  • Painkillers: Prevent nerve impulses – eg aspirin, heroin
  • Performance Enhancers: Improves how a muscle develops – eg Anabolic steroids


Some Facts!


  • If drug use is prevalent within a home unit, it can have a huge negative impact on other household members.
  • By the time children have left primary school, most of them have some knowledge of drugs.
  • When children are aware of the risks, they are more responsive.

For more in-depth information on the types of drugs and their individual effects, visit these websites:

Why do people take drugs? 

People take drugs or alcohol for a million different reasons. It could be for fun, excitement, thrill seeking or escapism. It could also be for socialising, confidence building, anxiety or depression. It could be peer pressure, boredom or self-medication. Every person has their own reasons and no two reasons are necessarily the same. 


What are the tell-tale signs 

There may be physical signs such as skin problems, sweating, changing energy levels, pupil dilation, slurred speech, impaired judgement, balance or muscle control. There could also be a change in eating and/or sleeping habits or mood changes. They could also be secretive, change their behaviour or have changing relationships with friends and/or family. Their finances or possessions could change or they could become neglectful of their appearance. Again, this list is not exhaustive and the signs do not always mean a person is affected by drugs as it could be something else.


What to do if you have concerns?

It’s really important to try and talk with your child about drugs and alcohol in a constructive way and don’t feel that this will encourage drug taking behaviour. Early open dialogue and discussion of facts and opinions will enable your child to make a more informed decision. If you are able to gather facts together and avoid scare tactics, this can have the most positive affect. And also, remember the key, LISTEN as well as TALK.

Should you wish to discuss your concerns with an organisation in the Vale, please contact Taith if your child is over 18 years old on 0300 300 7000. Alternatively, you can drop into their office at 2 Holton Road, Barry and make a self-referral. Please see their website for further information. TAITH can make referrals into E-DAS (Entry to Drug and Alcohol Services), which is the new single point of entry into substance misuse treatment and support for:

  • individuals looking to address their own use of alcohol or drugs
  • members of their family and carers looking for guidance and support 


If your child is under 18 years old, please contact Switched On, covering both Cardiff and the Vale. Young people can contact them directly on 029 22 330 292 or email or visit the website, which is part of the Red Button website: 


Some other organisations you could contact and may be able to support your needs as a parent are:


For more information on services and support that can help you, please visit the Dewis Cymru website: