As a parent, the things you say and do have a tremendous influence on the decisions your child makes - especially when it comes to using drugs or alcohol. Research shows that kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use. By talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol, you can help them make better choices and live safer, healthier lives.

Starting the conversation with your kids and keeping communication open is never easy -- but it's also not as difficult as you may think. Whether you're having trouble finding the time or finding the right words, Time to Talk is here to provide the support and resources you need when it's time to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol.

Who uses alcohol and drugs?

Many young people smoke, drink alcohol and may try drugs. They may do it for fun, because they are curious, or to be like their friends. Some are experimenting with the feeling of intoxication.


Many times young people will smoke, drink alcohol, and try drugs to fit in with kids they feel are rebellious and "cool" in the eyes of the other students.

Alcohol generally gives you a feeling of relaxation and confidence, although some people feel flat and miserable with it. It is addictive if used regularly. There are serious physical health effects if you drink regularly or binge drink. It can affect the liver, nervous system and brain. There are no known safe limits for children and teenagers. Young people can get themselves into dangerous situations if they are drunk, e.g. fighting, having unprotected sex, or getting into a car with someone who has been drinking.

Cigarettes are highly addictive and cause diseases such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. It can be hard to expect your child not to smoke if you smoke yourself. Fortunately, a lot of support is available now (see list of sources of further information).

Cannabis (grass, dope, weed, skunk) is the most commonly used illegal drug among 11-24 year olds. Cannabis resin looks like a gravy browning cube, or cannabis can look like dried herbs or seeds. It is usually rolled into a `joint' and smoked like a cigarette or through a special pipe. It can also be baked in cakes. Most people find it makes them feel relaxed, and they may feel they want to talk or laugh a lot. It can also make you feel panicky and nervous, confused, tired and hungry. It can cause lung diseases, just like cigarettes do. For some people, cannabis use can trigger schizophrenia, a serious mental illness (see leaflet 21 on schizophrenia).

Solvents such as glue, butane gas, and aerosols can be sniffed, sprayed into the mouth/nose, or the fumes breathed in using a gas filled bag. It makes people feel `high'. These substances can make people do things that they wouldn't normally have the courage to do, and they may hallucinate (see things that aren't there). Solvents can make you feel sick or sleepy, and it is possible to suffocate if a bag is put over your head. The heart can stop and this can lead to death, even when tried for the first time.

Ecstasy (E, pills, brownies, burgers, disco biscuits, hug drug, Mitsubishis, Doves, Rolex's, Dolphins, XTC) comes in tablets in lots of different colours and shapes. They make people feel happy, lively and very friendly. But some people feel anxious and scared. If you take it while dancing a lot, it is easy to become dehydrated and this can be fatal.

Amphetamines (speed, uppers, whizz, amph, sulphate) comes as a powder (orangey yellow or a dirty white) or as tablets. Amphetamines can be swallowed, sniffed, smoked or injected. Sometimes they are made into a liquid to drink. People feel as if they have lots of energy, `buzzy' and often talk a lot. But, again, you can also feel very scared and anxious or grumpy and some people hallucinate. Amphetamines are stimulants, and so can have effects on the heart that can lead to death.

LSD (`acid', trips, tabs, microdots, stamps) comes on small pieces of paper impregnated with the drug. The little squares have pictures on them. LSD is eaten or sucked. The effect is to hallucinate (`trip') and see odd shapes or colours or hear noises. Trips can be pleasant or terrifying and can last for several hours. You can also have `flashbacks' several months later, when you have similar experiences to the trip, even though you haven't taken LSD for weeks.

Cocaine (coke, snow, Charlie, C,) and crack cocaine (rock, wash, stone) make people feel confident and lively. Cocaine is a white powder that is sniffed up the nose, and can be dissolved and injected. Crack cocaine comes as crystals (rocks) the size of a baked bean. It is smoked and has similar effects to cocaine powder, but these effects are more rapid and intense, and wear off quickly. Cocaine can cause chest pains and difficultly breathing. Both cocaine and crack cocaine are highly addictive.

Heroin (H, smack, skag, horse, junk, brown) is a browny - whitish powder. It is smoked, sniffed or injected and makes people feel very relaxed and content and cut off from the world `gouching out'. It is highly addictive, even if not injected. Heroin can be fatal as it can stop your breathing.

Tranquillizers (valium, ativan, mogadon, temazepam, moggies, mazzies, tranx, jellies) come as capsules and tablets of differing colours and shapes. They are eaten or injected. People feel relaxed and may fall asleep. It can be fatal to inject them. They are addictive.

Anabolic steroids (Deca-Durabolin, Dianabol, and Stanozolol) are tablets or liquids that are swallowed or an oily liquid which is injected into the muscle. They increase muscle bulk and can improve sporting strength and ability if taken over time. However, they cause many serious health problems, including breast development in boys, body hair growth in girls, depression and hormonal problems.


Teachers/School Officials

Click the following drug categories to download a full S.A.D.A. information sheet for that particular drug.






MDMA (Ecstacy)




Information provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and NSTA (National Science Teachers Association)



SADA - Students Against Drugs and Alcohol is a non-profit community service organization. SADA believes in educating today's youth about drugs the proper way before they are confronted with substances in their everyday life.