Youth Drug and Alcohol Service (YDACS)



When you or a young person you care about has problematic drug and/or alcohol use, it can be very distressing and confusing to know what to do. Understanding where to go and how to get help is the first step towards making the change that may be needed.

The Youth Drug and Alcohol Service (YDACS) is a youth specific drug and alcohol service, that works with young people aged 12 – 18 years of age who need help due to their moderate to severe drug and/or alcohol use. When a young person has a “moderate to severe” substance use problem, the drug or alcohol use may be impacting on their mental health (heightened anxiety, depression, psychosis), attendance at school or work, relationships with family and friends, their overall health (weight loss, sexual problems) and finances (in debt). Although using drugs might seem a good way to feel good and manage some difficult emotions, it can be really risky, leading to ongoing physical and mental health issues and for some people, death.

YDACS is a specialist service that is flexible to an individual young person’s needs. It is a voluntary service that offers drug and alcohol assessment, counselling, treatment & case management for young people and their families. We understand that all young people come from diverse backgrounds, genders, sexuality, cultures and have their own unique experiences and stories.


Where are services provided

YDACS works across the whole of the Hunter New England Health District although we are based in Newcastle. We do this through our YDACS clinic in Newcastle, an outreach clinic in Cessnock and telehealth through the rest of the district. Telehealth is a way that we can work with someone even though we are not face to face. We can also provide advice to services who are already working with a young person where this may be a better way of offering help.



Resources about drugs

Depressant drugs may not neccessairly make you depressed, but they affect your system by slowing it down, specifically the central nervous system.

When your central nervous system is slowed down, messages from your brain to body occur more slowly, which impairs your ability to respond to situations, your coordination and ability to concentrate.

Large doses of depressant can cause drowsiness, vomiting, unconsciousness and death.

Depressant drugs include:

Stimulant drugs, as the name suggest, do just that. They stimulate your body, specifically the activity within your central nervous system, which speeds up messages between the brain and the body.

Stimulants can be found in legal forms, such as caffeine or Ritalin, which is used to treat ADHD.

Illegal stimulants may include cocaine, MDMA (ecstacy) or amphetamines.

Use of stimulants may result in over-stimulation, causing anxiety, panic, seizures, headaches, stomach cramps, aggression and paranoia. High doses could result in seizures, coma or death.

Fact sheets:


Cannabinoids are a class of chemical compound that acts on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

The chemical compounds come from the cannabis plant, which is used for three main purposes, medicinal, recreational and synthetic.

THC, a cannabinoid in cannabis is what makes people 'high'.

Regular use of cannabis (non-medicinal), can cause psychotic disorders, cognitive impairement (particularly in adolescence), poor educational outcomes and a reduced satisfaction in life achievements.

Learn more about cannabis.

As the name suggest, empathogens provide an enhanced sense of empathy to others, along with a feeling of being accepted and connected to those around.

The effect of empathogens decreases over time, causing a user to require higher doses to feel the effects. This can then lead to mood swings, hyperthermia as serotonin levels become low, risk of dehydration and overdose.

Empathogen drugs include:

Dissociatives are psychedelic drugs, which makes the user feel dissociated or detached from themselves or the environment around them (detached from reality).

People who take dissociatives may develop a dependence to them and require larger amounts to get the same effect in comparison to when they first used the drug, along with an increased craving for the drug.

Long term use of these drugs can include vitamin B12 deficiency, nerve damage and some types of anaemia.

Types of dissociatives include:

Psychedelics alter mood, change congitive processes and perceptions. They are also known as hallucinogens.

These types of drugs affect senses, such as the way you think, time and emotions. They may also cause the user to see or hear things that don't exist.

Hallucinogens can cause hallucinations that are frightening or disturbing. These can cause the user to panic and cause unpredictable behaviour. Such a reaction may even cause the user to self-harm.

Users of these drugs may experience dizziness, fast or irregular heart beat, breathing quickly, vomiting, sweats, chills and numbness.

Learn more about hallucinogens.


YDACS referrals

YDACS understand that families and carers of young people are their greatest strengths and best supports, therefore whenever possible families are included in the assessment and treatment.

Referrals can be made by any service provider including GP’s, Community Health Services, inpatient hospital units, Families & Community Services, Juvenile Justice, police, education. Although referrals are ideally received through a service provider, a young person or their family can self-refer by contacting the 1800 950 755.


Meet the team

YDACS is a multidisciplinary team of a Clinical Coordinator (Mel Benson), Paediatric staff Specialist (Dr. Krista Monkhouse), Clinical Psychologist (Maz Jenkins), Senior Social Worker (Pete Clark), Social Worker (Holley Stewart) and a Registered Nurse (Naomi Nicholson).


Contact YDACS


Phone: 1800 950 755


Newcastle Community Health Centre
Level 2, 670 Hunter Street Newcastle (entrance off Hunter Street)
Newcastle, NSW, 2230