If you are worried that your child might be using drugs, it's important to keep talking to them and being open to communication. This will help to keep them connected to you, even at the most challenging of times. Starting the conversation about a young person’s potential drug use can be tricky. Having that initial conversation may not resolve everything, but it can be an important first step so your child trusts you and feels able to talk to you.
Here are some tips to getting started:
- Gather information to make sure you understand what drug your child may be using and its effects. Relate this information to how your child is acting, and see whether it applies to their situation. Have a clear idea of what it is that concerns you about their drug use.
- Arrange a suitable time to talk where you will have some privacy and won’t be interrupted. Try to do this in a location that your child feels comfortable in. Talking about this topic can feel confronting, so think about whether you can walk and talk, talk whilst you are driving, or sit side-by-side so there is less pressure on your child.
- Only start the conversation when the person is not currently under the influence of drugs. If this is difficult, try to pick a time when they seem less intoxicated than others (for example, in the morning). Try not to start conversations when they are on their way out of the house.
- It is OK to ask directly about drug use, but don’t make assumptions that they are using drugs, how often, or why they use it. Try to find out what your child's life is like. Be relaxed and give them a chance to express their views.
To start the conversation, you might say:
“I’ve noticed a few changes in you lately, and I’m a bit worried that you aren’t all that happy…what’s going on in your life at the moment?”
“How are your friends going? …I haven’t seen them in a while”
“I haven’t heard you talking much about school at the moment…how’s that going?”
- Have some specific examples ready that show the behaviours that you are worried about, in case you get a “like what?” in response.
It can be hard to seek help, but often the sooner you reach out for support, the better. You may want to talk about your concerns with a friend that you can trust. Your GP or health worker can also be a good starting point – they can discuss your concerns with you in private and help you find other services if you need more support. Visit Where to get help for a full list of support services.