Discussing drugs and alcohol - are you prepared?

12 - 14 years
Mother and daughter

Recent Australian research found that 1 in 3 kids say they would turn to their parents for advice about drugs – but would you know what to say to your child? Find out what you need to know, how to talk to your teen and what to do if you are concerned your child may be misusing drugs or alcohol.

Drug and alcohol misuse – risks for teens

Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) misuse can have many negative impacts for young people in the short and long term, including mental health, interpersonal and academic problems. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of AOD misuse as their brains are still developing and they are more likely to take risks or engage in high-risk activities.

Start the conversation early!

Talking about drugs and their associated risks can help protect your child from the harms associated with drugs. Kids who aren’t properly informed are at greater risk of engaging in unsafe behaviours and experimenting with drugs.

By starting the drug conversation early with your child, you can help them understand the risks of drug use, and give them the information and skills they will need when they are first faced with AOD use. Another benefit of starting the conversation early is that you are establishing open communication and information sharing with your child. By talking and listening to your child’s thoughts, feelings and opinions about AOD and peer pressure, you are letting them know that no topic is ‘off limits’ – and that you are available to listen to their concerns, and can provide advice and support when they need it.

If you feel you don’t know where to start or what to cover when you have the conversation with your teen, don’t panic! There is lots of information available to help you feel more confident and prepared to talk to your child about drugs.

Positive Choices

You start a conversation with your teen and advice about what to do if you are concerned your child may be using drugs. Some great resources available include:

  • Illegal drugs – what you need to know – Parent version – a booklet with information for parents about the use and effects of illegal drugs, guidance on how to talk to a young person about drugs and how to protect against drug use and related harms, and advice about how to help someone who has taken an illegal drug.
  • Drugs A to Z – a fact sheet with comprehensive information about common drugs.
  • Glossary of terms – a list of useful terms and definitions to inform your conversation with your child.

Worried your teen is using drugs?

If you are worried your teen may be using drugs, there are a range of treatment and support services available, including:

  • The National Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Hotline (1800 250 015) offers free and confidential advice about AOD, and connects you to local support, information, counselling and services.
  • The National Drugs Campaign website provides information about illicit drugs and resources to help you deal with the issues AOD might be causing in your teen’s life.

If you need emergency support, please call Lifeline (131 114) which is a 24 hour crisis helpline,

or dial ‘000 for the police or an ambulance.

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Last modified
20 April 2020