Substance use and smoking information for parents in dorset

Substance Use & Smoking

Many young people can experiment with drugs and smoking without having any problems, however the danger of drugs and smoking is that both can be highly addictive and lead to serious health damage.  

Your child may experiment with drugs or smoking because all their friends are doing it or they want to feel more grown up, but for some young people they may use drugs to escape from problems or be pressured into it by friends.  Legally available drugs like caffeine, cigarettes or alcohol can often be seen as cool lifestyle choices and many young people start using them simply because they think they’re good ways to wind down.

Other legally available substances like aerosols, gases or solvents can also be used as drugs and can be extremely dangerous and even fatal.  There has been a sharp increase in the use of ‘legal highs’ by young people which can be bought on the internet or in specialist high street shops which are designed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy and cannabis.  These are just as dangerous as illegal drugs.

The most common drugs used by young people in Dorset are alcohol and cannabis, but the other ‘harder drugs’, like heroin and cocaine are available here too if your child wants to seek them out.


•  Drugs can cause physical or mental damage and in some cases lead to death
•  Young people using drugs can lose interest in school, families, relationships or work  
•  Drug users often turn to crime to fund their habit
•  Drug users are more likely to drink alcohol
•  Drug users are more likely to have early sex
•  Mental health problems are more common in young drug users
•  Young people who smoke often become regular adult smokers
•  Young people who smoke are more susceptible to coughs, increased phlegm, wheeziness and shortness of breath

Warning signs:

Some of these behaviours are normal, but several of the warning signs seen together may be an indication that your child is at risk. For help and advice contact one of the organisations listed below.

•  Asking you for money, or cash going missing with no indication of what has been bought
•  Unusual equipment lying around the house such as torn cigarette packs, small sealable bags or empty aerosols
•  Young people using drugs might have a lack of appetite or have sores or rashes around the mouth or nose
•  Mood swings or behaviour changes
•  Staying out late at night or socialising with new friends
•  Young people using drugs may appear drowsy, lack motivation and lose interest in their appearance

Where to get help:
 ShADOWS: Shire Alcohol and Drug Outreach Workers Service

Tel: 01258 488 486

Dorset SmokeStop: Live Well Dorset  Tel: 0800 8401628 / 01305 233105

0800 77 66 00,         Text a question to 82111

For further information:

Parentline Plus
A national charity providing free, 24 hour help/ support. Visit  or call 0808 800 22 22


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