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Talking with parents and carers

It can be difficult for parents and carers to acknowledge that their child is using alcohol and other drugs. They may need your help to understand what is happening and how they should respond.

Some things to consider when talking with parents and carers:

  • What do they know about the child’s alcohol and other drugs use?
  • What signs, behaviours, emotions and other symptoms have they noticed in the child?
  • When did the alcohol and other drugs  use start? What was happening? What triggered it? Has the child been through something traumatic recently or in the past?
  • What do they think of the child’s use and how they are reacting and responding to it?
  • Have they talked to the child about their use? If so, what was this conversation like? How did they and the child react to the conversation?
  • What are their views on harm minimisation? What are their expectations about alcohol and other drugs  use, treatment and recovery?
  • What are the risks and safety issues for the young person (when buying alcohol and other drugs , using alcohol and other drugs , they use with others, they are intoxicated and experiencing withdrawal)?

Ideas on what parents and carers can do to build safety:

  • Be an active part of the child’s life.
  • Listen to the child and make time available to do so.
  • Be a role model.
  • Be honest with them.
  • Pick their moment.
  • Remain calm.
  • Avoid conflict.
  • Keep talking.
  • Set clear boundaries.
  • Focus on positives.
  • Spend positive time together.
  • Help young people learn to be safe.

The following video gives some tips on communicating with young people if there is concern about alcohol and other drugs use.

I found out a young person I care for is taking drugs, now what?

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