What is an unhealthy lifestyle?

Unhealthy lifestyle choices

A key way to avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices is to understand what different substances do to your body.

Substance abuse can cause serious problems which can affect your physical and mental health.

Drug use

A drug is a chemical substance that affects the processes of the mind or body.

Some drugs are legal and can be bought in shops and supermarkets such as alcohol, cigarettes and mild painkillers.

Others are medicines, prescribed by doctors to treat illnesses.

Illegal drugs are banned by the government.


Alcohol such as beer, wine and spirits is legal to buy, only if you are over 18.

Drinking large amounts can have the following effects:

  • increase in aggression and violence;
  • depression;
  • slurred speech and unsteady movement;
  • headaches and stomach ache (hangover);
  • death from overdose.


Nicotine is another legal drug that is used as a mild stimulant and is consumed in cigarettes, cigars, pipes and vaporisers.

A stimulant is something which causes increased activity in the mind or body, especially within a person's nervous system.

Recent research suggests that using vaporisers has few effects on users’ health.

Smoking, however, can have very bad side effects, including:

  • high blood pressure, increasing the likelihood of heart attack and stroke;
  • increased risk of cancers of the lungs, throat and mouth;
  • lower fertility, making it difficult to conceive children;
  • higher risk of miscarriage or stillbirth;
  • premature aging due to reduced blood supply to the skin.

Illegal drugs

There is a huge range of illegal drugs that change the user’s state of mind.

Some induce euphoria and confidence, others dull pain or cause hallucinations.

The best known illegal drugs include cocaine, heroin and MDMA (known as ‘ecstasy’).

Different drugs affect your health in different ways, but there are some problems common to them all:

  • more illnesses, deaths and disabilities are caused by substance abuse than from any other preventable health condition;
  • drugs weaken your immune system, leaving you open to infections;
  • some drugs can cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain;
  • some drugs can cause heart disease; this may be an abnormal heart beat, but it could escalate to a heart attack;
  • injected drugs, such as heroin, can cause your veins to collapse and infections in your circulatory system;
  • seizures, strokes and other types of brain damage can be caused by some types of drugs. This may leave you with long-term memory problems. Others can cause mental illness such as depression or schizophrenia;
  • many drugs are addictive, which means that users are compelled to use the drug whether they really want to or not. This can lead to financial and social problems as the user prioritises the drug over other aspects of their life;
  • some drugs can kill through overdose.

Where to seek help

If you need more information or help you should speak to someone you trust.

These websites offer more information and advice.

Steps to cope

Carlisle House

Alcoholics Anonymous