Don't compromise your health

Addiction is a behaviour that is a result of dependence and harm. As St Bernardo’s states, substance and alcohol abuse can have a massive effect on a young person’s life. For example, it can lead to: anti-social behaviour, effects to their physical and mental well-being and even serious illness/death.

Even though it can have devastating long-term effects on a young person, it’s worth pointing out, it’s also a criminal offence to use or possess controlled substances and the Foundation will immediately sanction, notifying the police, where appropriate.

To combat the risk of addiction, the Foundation actively promotes wellbeing and good health to staff and students, regularly reinforcing the importance of a pleasant working environment for all. To learn how the Foundation promotes positive physical health, click here.  

See below habits that can lead to serious health concerns…


Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) estimates that each year around 207,000 children in the UK start smoking. This devastating statistic leads to negative outcomes including addiction and health consequences.

There are various factors that may lead to tobacco consumption, including:

  • Peer pressure
  • Parents/sibling smokers – children who live with parents or siblings that smoke are up to three times more likely to become smokers than those that don’t live with non-smokers
  • Exposure to smoking depicted in films, television, social media

If you need help to quit smoking, click here


Vaping, a common yet fairly new substitute for smoking still contains chemicals that are highly addictive such as nicotine. Figures from the 2023 Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) survey of young vapers in England, Scotland and Wales suggest one in five children (11-17 year olds) have tried vaping. According to official data, the number of children vaping in the last 3 years has tripled.  

Research into the effects of vaping on our health is still in its infancy, however it has already been found that E-cigarettes can weaken our immune system by interfering with how neutrophils move around in our bodies. Some cancer-causing substances present in tobacco smoke have also been detected in e-cigarette vapour.  The BBC adds that ‘the impact from vaping has the potential to cause long-term damage to young people’s lungs, hearts and brains.’

Most alarming is the additional risk posed by vapes that do not comply with regulatory standards that young people may buy from an unknown source. This risk is linked to the possibility of ingesting unsafe levels of metals such as nickel, lead and chromium.

If you need help to quit vaping, click here


Underage drinking, despite not being as harmful as smoking can be detrimental to a child’s health. As the NHS points out, it can affect the normal development of vital organs and functions, including the brain, liver, bones and hormones.

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  • One of the reasons young people start smoking is because of peer pressure or trying to show off in front of their friends.

    However, there is a lack of awareness around the health risks associated with ‘looking cool’. To help them understand exactly what happens to their physical state once inhaling nicotine, encourage them to watch this video.

  • Although underage drinking is illegal, it is common for children under the age of 18 to try alcohol. Make sure you set boundaries so they drink safely and can easily contact you if there is a problem.  

    If you see signs of your child drinking excessively such as when they are alone and regularly getting drunk, please contact drinkaware on 0300 123 1110.

  • An alternative and slightly better option to smoking, vaping is now twice as common as smoking among children.

    The brightly coloured design and different flavours that have been introduced in recent years are one of the reasons vaping has become so popular. This doesn’t take away from the health effects that are serious causes for concern.