When faced with the consequences of using drugs, you might think, "This is just a scare tactic. It can’t happen to me." Or you might think, “It could happen to others, but it won’t happen to me.” But if you think that using drugs can’t affect your health, your family and social relationships, school performance, or your future, think again.


Using drugs—and sometimes just being around people who use them—can have legal, health, social, and financial consequences. Think about it: What can happen when you get in a car with a driver who’s high? What can happen when you get pulled over with drugs or paraphernalia in your car?


And what can happen if you make a decision to use drugs? The first time it's a choice. After that, it may not be. And sometimes it's hard to know the total consequences of your choice—until it's too late.


When it comes to drugs and drug abuse, there are many realities and consequences to consider.


You Become Addicted

When you use drugs, you put yourself at risk of becoming addicted. Some people have a higher risk of drug addiction than others, but it’s hard to predict who will become addicted because there are many factors in play. Your biology, environment, and development all have a hand in determining your risk for addiction.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has done extensive studies on how drugs impact the brain, and this is what the science tells us: Although people of any age can become addicted to drugs, the earlier drug use begins, the more likely it is to progress to more serious abuse.


The teen brain is undergoing many critical changes. Using drugs, alcohol, or nicotine can interfere with development and lead to long-term changes in the brain.



What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that affects the brain and causes compulsive drug-seeking and use despite harmful consequences. Using drugs changes your brain’s structure and function. Addiction is a brain disease because drugs change the brain, they change its structure and how it works. And although the initial decision to take drugs may be voluntary, over time, the changes in your brain can weaken your self-control and ability to make sound decisions, while sending intense impulses to take drugs.


Can drug addiction be cured?

Although there is no cure for drug addiction, persons suffering with drug addiction can often recover through treatment provided by a licensed drug treatment facility under the supervision of a medical provider. But it’s not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight.. Similar to people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for drug addiction have to modify or change their behavior, and often take medication as part of their treatment.


If you use illegal drugs or abuse substances such as inhalants, prescription drugs, or over the counter medications, you are at risk of becoming addicted. And if you’ve heard that marijuana is not addictive, think again. Research shows that each year more teens enter treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.


If you think you may be addicted to drugs, there are many treatment options available for young people—so get help right away.


How do you know if you have a problem with drugs?

One way to determine if you have a drug problem is to answer honestly some questions about your drug use. Some of the questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about using drugs?
  • Are you giving up things you used to love because of drugs?
  • Has your drug use caused problems between you and your friends and family?
  • Have you gotten in trouble at school or at work because of your drug use?


Remember that these questions are just a few of the things you should consider. If you think you may have a problem with drugs, talk to doctor or an alcohol and drug counselor, who can help you figure out if you have a substance abuse disorder or if you are addicted and how to get treatment.


Your Friend ODs

Intentional or accidental, taking too much of a drug—illicit, prescription, or over the counter—can lead to an overdose. And if that happens to your friend, you have to think twice about your responsibilities.


A drug overdose can be hard to identify, because overdose symptoms vary based on the drug. Depending on the drug, symptoms can include trouble breathing, convulsions, vomiting, and unconsciousness.


And on top of being unsure about your friend’s condition, you’re also scared:


“I don’t want my parents to know I was around drugs.”


“I wasn’t even supposed to be at this party—I said I was at the library.”


“I was the one who gave my friend the drugs and I don’t want to get in trouble.”


“But what if my friend just needs to sleep it off?”


The harsh truth is: even if you’re going to get in trouble, if you don’t do the right thing, your friend could be critically injured or die. If you know something is wrong, get help.


What should you do in case of a drug overdose?

If you suspect a friend has overdosed, getting medical attention can save his or her life.


Call 999. Give accurate details about what happened and make sure you provide first responders or emergency medical personnel with as much information as possible:

  • What drug(s) your friend took
  • How long ago the drugs were taken
  • How much was taken (if you know)
  • Who else (like your friend's family members) should be contacted immediately


Be honest with the medical professionals who ask questions about your friend. Withholding information or lying could have serious consequences such as a harmful drug interaction or the wrong treatment.


On the same note: You might be tempted to leave your friend at a hospital and take off to avoid getting in trouble. However, you might have important information that can help the doctors and nurses, so stick around and do your best to honestly answer their questions.


Your Drink is Drugged

Sometimes taking drugs isn’t a choice you get to make, like when someone slips drugs into your drink. Whether you're at a party or just hanging out, it's possible that someone—someone you know or someone you don't—may slip something into your drink that causes you harm.


There are things you should know—and things you can do—to keep yourself safe.


What are “date rape drugs”?

Although there are many substances that can cause you to you pass out or lose control, certain drugs are referred to as “date rape drugs” because sexual predators often use them to get control over their victims. The term “date rape drug” can refer to gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), Rohypnoll, Ketamine, and Ecstasy, Drinking a beverage spiked with one or more of these drugs can take away your ability to fight back and your memory of what was done to you.


A person who sexually assaults another person uses these drugs because they’re easy to slip into a drink—they’re tasteless, odorless, and colorless. Also, these drugs act fast and leave your system quickly, so if the assault isn’t reported right away, it may be too late to test for the drugs. And the drugs aren’t part of a routine screening, so unless the doctor knows to test for date rape drugs, they won’t show up in results. All this makes it difficult to conduct a criminal investigation.


These drugs can also affect the victim’s memory, so a victim may not remember the details or even identify the person who assaulted them. In some cases, a victim doesn't know what happened until much later.



Protect Yourself

  • Don't drink beverages from a can or bottle that you didn’t open yourself.
  • Don't take a drink from a punch bowl.
  • Don't drink from a container that’s being passed around.
  • If someone offers you a drink from the bar at a club or a party, go to the bar to order your drink, watch the drink being poured, and carry the drink yourself.
  • Don't leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call.
  • If you realize that your drink has been left unattended, throw it away and get a new one.
  • Don't drink anything that has an unusual taste or appearance, like a salty taste or unexplained residue.
  • Don’t mix drugs and alcohol. Even over-the-counter drugs like cold medicine can react with alcohol and other substances in negative ways.
  • Watch out for your friends and ask them to watch out for you. Have a plan to periodically check up on each other.
  • If your friend appears very intoxicated, gets sick after drinking a beverage, passes out and is difficult to wake up, seems to have trouble breathing, or behaves in an uncharacteristic way, take steps to ensure your friend's safety. If necessary, call 911 for emergency medical assistance.



Signs That You May Have Been Drugged

  • You feel drunk even though you haven't had alcohol.
  • You wake up very "hung over" and experience a memory lapse or can't account for periods of time.
  • Your clothes are disheveled or not on right.
  • You are nauseous, sleepy, and have a loss of reflexes.
  • You feel like someone had sex with you, but you can't remember it.



What To Do If Your Drink Is Drugged and You Think You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted

  1. Get to a safe place. Ask a trusted friend to stay with you.
  2. Call the police. Tell the police everything—be honest about your activities. Remember that nothing justifies sexual assault.
  3. Go to a hospital as soon as possible. Ask for an exam and evidence collection. Request that the hospital take a urine sample for drug toxicology testing. Have them test the urine for date rape drugs.
  4. Preserve as much physical evidence as possible. Don’t bathe, shower, or throw away the clothing you were wearing during the incident until you’ve talked to the police and been examined by a doctor. Save any other potential evidence, like the glass that held your drink.


You Lose Your Friends

If you think drugs won’t affect your relationship with your friends, think twice.


When a person becomes addicted to drugs, their brain changes. These changes cause the addict to seek out and use drugs compulsively. The craving for drugs can be so intense, that some addicts will choose drugs over basic needs like buying food or paying rent.


The urge to use drugs can also affect relationships. Addiction can make you choose getting high over spending time with your friends or doing other things you love to do. Pretty soon, your whole world revolves around drugs—finding them, using them, and hanging out with people who use them. You may be forced to lie or steal to finance your drug addiction.


Your current friends may not want to spend time around you if all you care about is getting high. They may not want to associate with someone who uses drugs.


Drugs can also cause users to become paranoid about their relationships—like thinking that their friends are turning against them. They may even become aggressive and violent toward other people, even their family and friends.


For all of these reasons, drugs can destroy relationships. Don’t let them destroy yours. If you need help with drug abuse or addiction, talk to a trusted adult, doctor, or alcohol and drug abuse counselor about your drug use. Find a treatment center.



Drugged Driving: You Get High and Drive

Do you think that driving while high is safe? Think again.


You’ve heard about the dangers of drunk driving, but do you understand the dangers of drugged driving: driving after taking drugs, including marijuana?


Drugs, including marijuana, affect the way you drive—putting you, your passengers, and other drivers at risk. Drugs can alter your perception, attention, balance, coordination, reaction time, and other skills drivers need to stay alert and safe.

  • Studies have found that drugs are used by 10-22% of drivers involved in crashes, often in combination with alcohol.



You Are Caught With Drugs

If you’re using drugs, selling drugs, or spending a lot of time around people who do, you may have to face legal consequences.


A drug-related conviction can have a major impact on your future. With a drug-related offense on your record, the following may be true:

  • You may not be able to get the job you want
  • You may face one of the biggest consequences of all: Being sentenced to time in prison.


Macau Government has clear, explicit drug abuse laws, even drug paraphernalia may be cause for arrest.


It’s up to you to learn about the legal consequences and consider the facts when you make decisions about drugs.