Drugs and Alcohol
One of the areas that cause concern for parents is whether their young person is using drugs and alcohol. During the teenage years, young people may want to explore what it's like being an adult and this can bring about all sorts of risk taking behaviours. However it's good for parents to know a few facts so that they can put their fears into perspective but have those important conversations to help young people make good choices.
The most important things to remember are:
- Most young people don’t use drugs: 76% of young people aged 11-15 say they have never taken drugs.
- More young people are choosing not to drink alcohol or are waiting until they are older – however, those who do drink are drinking a lot more than 10 years ago.
- Evidence has shown that scare tactics do not work: it is important to discuss the consequences of alcohol and drugs without overstating the case.
- Avoid being confrontational: it’s important that young people don’t feel accused. Listen to young people’s views and offer your own in an honest and respectiful manner so that they feel comfortable coming to you in the future.
- Don’t underestimate your influence: you can have a strong, positive effect by starting the conversation earlier, and keeping it on-going.
How can I help prevent my child from taking drugs and alcohol?
There is no sure way to prevent your child using drugs but you can decrease the chances of it happening if you:
- Maintain good communication with your child. Make sure they know they can talk to you if they have any concerns or issues.
- Be interested in their activities and know who their friends are. Help with homework and give them lifts to and from sports and other activities.
- Have open discussions with your child from a young age about drug use: what they would do if offered drugs, explore examples, positives and negatives of use.
- Encourage them not to drink or smoke. The longer you can delay this the less likely they are to use illegal drugs.
- Make sure your own use of alcohol or other drugs is responsible. The best way to influence their behaviour is by example.
- Inform yourself about drugs.
- Praise and encourage healthy behaviour.
- Have positive expectations for your children.
- Set clear boundaries in your home.
If you are worried and need help:
If you are concerned about your young person and need more advice and support there are some local and national organisations that can help:
Somerset Drugs and Alcohol Service offers support and help for families, young people and adults with an alcohol or drug issue - www.somersetdap.org.uk
Tel: 020 7553 7640
Offers information, support groups and advice for families affected by drugs and alcohol
Talk to Frank
Tel: 0800 776 600
Provides free and confidential information and advice about drugs
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Useful leaflets and tips to support parents
Tel: 0800 018 2138
Information and advice for parents, children and young people, and professionals
This organisation is run by Youth Net UK, a registered charity and is aimed at young adults. It covers a range of issues including drugs and alcohol, sexual health and relationships, health and wellbeing and money matters.
School Nursing and School-based clinics
Find out about school-based clinics
For confidential advice and support on any health issue a young person can organise to visit their school-based clinic.