In general, most young people, especially those under 14, trust their parents and will respond to any information and support you offer. However, as teenagers get older the culture gap may widen and communication may be more difficult. This does not mean you should not try. Before you do talk to your child about drugs, make sure you have accurate, up-to-date information about different types of drugs (explore our A-Z of drugs) and make the time to have the conversation.
It’s important to stay calm and open-minded. Getting too intense will put pressure on your child, so encourage a relaxed conversation, starting with questions about the ‘bigger picture’. Try to find out how things are going outside of home, with their friends, at school, etc. Make sure to ask questions that won’t result in one-word answers; this way, the conversation will be much more likely to flow. Listen to what your child says and try to ensure a two-way conversation. If you’re sure there’s a problem and your child refuses to talk to you, try not to panic.
Although there are many stories in the media about drugs leading to addiction, crime and death, it is important to remember that:
for most young people illegal drug taking is not a part of normal life
most people who do try drugs do not continue using them
there are serious risks involved in drug use but most of those who try illegal drugs do not usually suffer any long-term harm to their health
Remember that there are different reasons why people take drugs (See our Why Do? page). It’s important to explain that some drugs are illegal and can affect their physical and mental health, and to let them know that while you may not approve, they can always talk to you about any worries they may have.
Help is also available to you as a parent or carer. Websites such as Adfam, Community for Recovery and Family Lives provide advice for parents and carers. Netmums is a parenting website which provides opportunities for mums and dads to chat with other parents when you have questions or are facing a challenge.