Young People and Young Adults

We provide a confidential and non-judgemental service to young people and young adults up to the age of 24. A member of our team can come to meet you at home, at school or in a neutral venue that suits you.

Our Young People’s Service has a dedicated phone number 0113 887 2757 you can also call or text 07525 265755 or email for more information. Follow us on Twitter

How we can help

We can help you if you:

  • Just want more to know more about drugs or alcohol
  • Want to find out how to stay as safe as possible
  • Want some support to reduce or stop using alcohol or drugs
  • Are worried about the effects that drugs are having on your mood, health, education or relationship

We offer a range of support and services that include:

  • One-to-one support around drug and alcohol issues
  • Emotional support – helping you to be happy, self-confident and resilient
  • Physical and sexual health support
  • Support to families and concerned others around young people’s drug and alcohol use
  • Information and advice about drugs and staying safe
    Group work

How to keep you and your mates safer

All types of drug including alcohol come with an element of risk. Different drugs have different dangers. Here are some general tips to remember.

Think ahead

  • If you are thinking about using any drugs, always get as much information as you can.
  • Unknown effects can be scary and you might not always know if drugs have been mixed with other things.
  • If you are at all unsure, think twice before taking it.

Be in a Safe Environment

  • Be with people that you trust and stay somewhere safe such as close to home or inside.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings as you could end up feeling stressed or lost.
  • Stay with people you know and look after each other.

Know Your Limits

  • Start low and go slow until you are sure what you are taking and the effect it will have on you. Try a small amount first and then go slowly. Even alcohol can take time for its full effects to be felt.
  • You know your body best, if it seems like you are having more than you can handle then slow down.
  • You should know when to stop and when to go home.

What to do in an emergency

If you see someone in trouble, get medical help as fast as you can, but make sure someone else stays with them until help arrives. Medics aren’t there to judge. If you know what has been taken and how much, just tell them so they know how to help. If they are unconscious, up them in the recovery position asap.

Drinking, taking drugs and having sex

  • Not using a condom to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and/or unplanned pregnancy
  • Forgetting to take your pill or vomiting making your pill less effective
  • Allowing yourself to do something you wouldn’t usually do
  • Not prioritising your safety – possibly putting yourself at risk of sexual assault and not capable of giving sexual consent

Leeds Sexual Health Service offers sexual health help and advice

Child Criminal Exploitation

Child criminal exploitation (CCE) is a growing issue where gangs target young people to get them to carry out criminal activities. If friends are pressuring you to get involved with their criminal activities, the reality is you have choices.

The St Giles Trust has a useful page of information about CCE, weapons, gangs county lines and similar issues.

Information about alcohol

How much can under 18’s drink?

  • Under 15’s – Avoid Alcohol It is advised that the healthiest and best option is to be alcohol-free, with young people not drinking before the age of 15.
  • Young Adult’s – 15-17 Years If you choose to drink you should drink no more than 2-3 units a week.
  • Adults should drink no more than 14 units a week

Why is this?

Young people’s bodies and in particular your brain aren’t fully developed like an adult’s, so alcohol can affect your development and health more seriously.

If you are drinking more than you should you may:

  • Hurt yourself
  • Feel grumpy, angry and more argumentative
  • Have unsafe sex and/or sex that you later regret
  • Be involved in a sexual assault
  • Catch an STI (sexually transmitted disease)
  • Gain excess weight (alcohol has lots of calories & sugar in it)
  • Lose things, such as money, mobile phone or memory
  • Make mistakes and act in a way you normally wouldn’t
  • Share images on social media you later regret
  • Write things on social media you don’t remember until the next day when it’s too late and all your friends have seen it including your family
  • Suffer dangerous side effects if you’re mixing alcohol with drugs
  • Feel rubbish the next day

If you do drink, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risks

  • Have time away from using alcohol
  • Make sure you eat properly before you start drinking
  • Drink water and soft drinks regularly between drinks
  • Start drinking later and try not to start drinking until you go out
  • Only take a limited amount of money with you (but make sure you have enough to get home)
  • Know when you’ve had enough, the guidance is there to help you have a good time without ruining your night
  • Drink, socialise and go home with people that you trust
  • Carry a condom just in case
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended
  • Avoid drinking games or gulping your drink
  • Feel rubbish the next day

Remember who might be watching

Do you really want pictures or videos of yourself in a drunken state on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Although it might seem funny at the time; it’s not just you that will see it. Your future employer, the dodgy guy down the road or even your Granny might be able to view what you did last night.

Reasons not to drink

  • Lose weight and feel fitter
  • Have more energy
  • Save money
  • Not embarrass yourself
  • Avoid accidents and injuries
  • Less likely to get into fights
  • You won’t be putting stuff on social media you regret
  • Won’t have the ‘beer goggles’ effect (getting with someone you wouldn’t normally fancy)
  • Less likely to have unsafe sex
  • Have better skin and appearance
  • Sleep better
  • You can still have a good time without drinking


  • Never leave someone who is very drunk on their own…. Make sure they are lying on their side (recovery position) so they do not choke if they’re sick.
  • Get help! – call an ambulance by dialing 999. Don’t worry about getting caught drinking – you could save a life.
  • Never get into a car if the driver has been drinking alcohol.
  • Plan how you will get home before you go out.

Get support and advice from Forward Leeds or you could get help and support from your local GP or someone you trust at school/college.

Information about cannabis

Know your stuff

Cannabis is the most widely-used illegal drug in Britain, although the number of people using it in recent years has fallen. The main active chemical in it is Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC for short).

THC is the ingredient in cannabis that can make you feel very chilled out; happy and relaxed. THC has also been linked to anxiety, paranoia and in some cases hallucinations.

Pleasant effects

You may feel relaxed and talkative. Colours and music may seem more intense.

Harmful effects

You may feel sick, have panic attacks, become paranoid and depressed or hear voices.

You need to weigh up the short and long-term effects drugs can have on your mental health and your future.

Your brain is still developing until your mid-20s. Regular, heavy cannabis use makes it difficult to learn and use information. It has been linked to poor exam results. Cannabis users also find they lack motivation

Smoking large amounts of weed can affect your relationships with friends and family

Teenagers who regularly use cannabis are likely to find themselves increasingly isolated from their families and their friends who choose not to smoke weed.

Often they only hang out with others who choose to use cannabis and are less actively engaged with the world around them.

Smoking weed can regularly as a teenager can have a permanent effect on brain development

Studies have shown that even weekly use of cannabis as a teenager can cause declining brain function and potentially a lower IQ.

Even long periods of abstinence in later life cannot necessarily reverse these effects on the brain.

Research has shown that cannabis can be addictive

Research suggests that cannabis is addictive and for teenagers the risk of developing an addiction is double that of those who begin using cannabis in later life. 25-50 percent of all regular (daily) users become addicted.

Over time, the persistent over stimulation of the body’s nervous system can cause changes in the brain that result in addiction; this is much more likely in people who start using cannabis when young and who are heavy users.


Regular cannabis use has been shown to have a negative effect on attention, memory, learning and decision-making. The effects can last for days after the high wears off.

The teenage brain seems to be more vulnerable to cannabis than the adult brain. Heavy or regular adolescent cannabis users show a range of issues including:

  • Problems with attention
  • Problems with learning
  • Problems with memory
  • An inability to switch ideas, change responses or be mentally flexible

If you choose to smoke weed it’s best not to mix it with alcohol. Mixing the two can be dangerous.

Combining weed and alcohol is likely to make you feel unwell. A side effect of smoking weed, called “a whitey”, is more likely to occur if a person drinks alcohol before smoking.

Individuals may go pale and sweaty, feel dizzy with “the spins,” nauseous, and may even start vomiting.

This is often followed by the need or strong desire to lie down. When recreational drinking and smoking are combined, it is also easier to drink excessively and risk alcohol poisoning.

Information about other drugs


Drinkaware is a site for Independent alcohol advice, information and tools to help people make better choices about their drinking

Frank provides a range of general information to educate and inform people about drugs. It also provides a handy A-Z guide to drugs

Kfx provides drugs education resources, training and other tools to help people who use drugs, people who work with drug users and their families and friends. All the resources on the website are free of charge.

Safe Sesh is a drugs harm reduction campaign by VICE, in collaboration with The Loop and the Royal Society for Public Health.

The Mix is the UK’s leading support service for young people. They cover everything from mental health to money, from homelessness to finding a job, from break-ups to drugs. helpline.

The Quit Cannabis app is a motivating program to help people who want to quit smoking cannabis and tobacco and continue moving in the right direction. Download for Android Download for Apple

NHS UK includes a drink tracker app for your phone

Parents and concerned others

Forward Leeds have staff who are specially trained to work with young people and understand the problems they face. If you’re worried about someone who has a drug or alcohol problem, we can give you some guidance too. Feel free to get in touch with us.

For information about specific drugs you can visit the Frank website