Your Family - Drugs and Alcohol

Left Align
Parents are often worried about drugs and alcohol and the effects that they may have on their children. If you are a concerned parent, find out as much as you can about the issue.

By having the correct knowledge you'll feel more confident when it comes to talking with your children about drugs, something that is very important when trying to communicate with them. You may even feel less fearful about the subject as whole.

Know your stuff

For example, it's worth knowing that even though a large proportion of young people now "experiment" with drugs, this doesn't mean they are having problems at school or at home. Instead it's more likely to be because they are curious about the effects and they have friends who have tried them. For most young people drugs are simply a part of growing up, and it doesn't mean they will develop any long-term problems.
Developing an understanding of drugs and the related issues will also help you to recognise when your child may be at risk or in danger. Drug use can lead to health problems and to young people becoming involved in crime.

Symptoms of drug use can include changes in mood and appearance, different sleeping habits or simply hanging round with a new set of friends. Of course, these are all things that children who never take drugs can go through, so be careful before acting too hastily.

Don't act too hastily

Trying to work out whether your child is taking drugs can be quite hard, but don't panic or become overly emotional if you think they are. The National Drugs Helpline offers the following advice for parents in this situation:

Try not to accuse your child as this will probably just lead to an arguement and could damage your relationship with them. Choose a time to talk when you are unlikely to be interrupted and don't discuss drug use with them while you think they are under the influence of a drug.

Ask your child to talk about their views and try to listen with respect to what they say. Make sure that you let them know that you will be there to help them through any difficulties they come across.

Set down some guidelines

At the same time make clear to them what behaviour is acceptable to you and what you won't tolerate. Be aware that punishment is usually only a short-term solution and is unlikely to give the results you are looking for. Ensure your child understands that they are responsible for their actions and the consequences that follow.

Understand that alcohol can have as much of a negative impact on young people's lives as drugs. Take the same approach by learning more about the issues and also teach your child to adopt a healthy attitude towards alcohol. Setting a good example is really important.