Q & A

Q & A for Parents

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  • Q: I suspect my teenager is using drugs. What should I do?

    It can be very worrying when you suspect that your child might be affected by drug use. We suggest reading our factsheet on Talking to a young person about drugs for guidance about how to approach these conversations. 

    It is also important to seek support for yourself, particularly if you feel like you can't handle the situation alone. You may find it useful to talk things through with a friend or relative. You can also consult with a GP, health professional or counsellor. 

    See Where to get help for a list of services that help people of all ages (or their families) affected by drug use. 

  • Q: My teenager is having a party. Should I allow alcohol?

    When making this decision, it is important to consider the legal and health consequences of allowing alcohol at an adolescent party. 

    Due to risk of harm from drinking, the Australian Alcohol Guidelines recommend that for people under 18 years of age, not drinking any alcohol is the safest option.

    Supplying alcohol to a minor can result in being charged and receiving a fine. Throughout Australia, it is illegal for staff of licensed premises to serve alcohol to minors. It is now also illegal to serve alcohol to minors in a private home in most states and territories in Australia, unless their parent or legal guardian has given permission. Parent decisions about supplying alcohol to teenagers are important, as only 5% of underage drinkers buy their alcohol themselves.

    For advice and guidance about safe partying for your teen, see our factsheet on Ensuring your teenager stays safe when they’re attending a party.  

  • Q: Should I talk to my teenagers about drugs?

    There is evidence that talking early on with your teenager about the risks associated with drugs and alcohol can help to prevent harm. Teenagers are exposed to messages about drugs and alcohol from their peers, the media, and the internet. It is useful to clarify common misperceptions, and communicate your expectations for your teenager's behaviour. Talking about your own reasons for avoiding drug use can also be helpful.

    It is best to be equipped in advance with accurate fact-based information about drugs and the harms associated with their use. This information is available in our Drugs A to Z factsheets and Parent handbook. Often teenagers assume that drug use is common among their peers, so it may be helpful to show them that the vast majority of young people do not use drugs (See factsheet: How many people use illegal drugs?).

    See also the following resources for advice on talking to young people about alcohol and drugs:

  • Q: Does drug use cause mental health problems?

    Research investigating the short and long-term effects of drug use does show a link between drug use and some mental health problems. These include depression, anxiety, and, in some cases, psychosis (a serious mental illness that causes people to misinterpret or confuse reality). 

    Read our Drugs A to Z factsheets to find out more about the risks associated with particular substances.