As part of our programme and the schools drugs education with pupils we feel it’s so important that parents are involved. Not only can drugs effect an individual but they can destroy a family too.

But how do you talk to your child? How do you look for the signs? Where do you get support?

Here’s some tips on talking to your child:
Do your research – there are plenty of good websites out there that will give you information about the dangers and consequences of drug use. Attend parental sessions about drug abuse where possible so you have knowledge to hand.

Think about the best time to have the conversation, it’s not ideal to start it ten minutes before they have to be somewhere, this puts pressure on both of you. Its best when you are relaxed and there’s plenty of time to finish the discussion fully. It’s important the child feels comfortable and secure with the topic so they can open up without being concerned about any repercussions

Listen to what they have to say and let them finish, rather than interrupting, its important you understand it from their point of view.

Be understanding and open to learning new information, the ‘I’m always right’ attitude won’t always work, children need to feel comfortable in these discussions.

If your child won’t speak to you, just let them know you are there to listen when they want to; or if they won’t talk to you, let them know where there is support.

Scare tactics won’t help! Telling your child ‘they will die if they take drugs’ simply won’t work for many, because they may already know a number of others who take drugs and nothing has happened to them. It is important to let them know death can be a consequence, but there are much longer term consequences from taking drugs, such as poor mental health, losing their looks…

Always make sure they have your number in their phone or have an emergency contact number on them and their friends, if something were to ever happen then at least they can get hold of you or their parents friends.

What are the signs?
It’s not always easy to spot the signs of drug use, as it probably would take place out of the home environment or the previous night. Recreational use is often harder to spot, however, unfortunately when the drug use is becoming more of a problem this has more of an impact on behaviour and appearance so is easier to identify.

Some of the signs to look out for are:

Mood changes
Changes in behaviour and appearance
Obvious signs of use (large pupils, sweating, talkativeness)
Deterioration at school
Change in friends
Change in activities
Need for cash
Weight loss

Of course, none of these would be a definite evidence of drug use as we know teenagers can be strange at times! But it is worth bearing them in mind.

Where can I get more info and support?
info on substances and the health risks of substances
Based in Warwickshire, supporting those affected by substance misuse and their families
Under 18’s treatment service in Coventry and Warwickshire.