I suspect my child may be using drugs. What should I do?
REJECT THE BEHAVIOUR BUT DO NOT REJECT THE CHILD.
Confront your child directly and ask about drug misuse. Check further, if necessary by looking for evidence of drug use. Observe your child, their behaviour and how they spend any money. Learn about drugs and discuss what you know with your child. Establish clear boundaries and enforce them. Know your child’s friends. If you still think that your child is taking drugs, seek professional help. Let your child know that you want to help.
[back to the top]
What do drugs look like?
They look like pills, liquids, crystalline rocks, crushed leaves, powders, cigarettes, postage stamps – they come in a variety of forms and colours. They are called all sorts of ‘street names’. You can usual obtain leaflets and information about drugs from the police, health education agencies and NGOs. Click on the ‘About Drugs’ menu on the Home Page of this web site. [back to the top]
If we make a big fuss about drugs, will it not encourage young people to try them?
Young people will hear about drugs, anyway. Some of their sources will be reliable others may be less reliable. Drug users, if they meet them, will tend to tell them about the positive effects of drugs – ‘they are exciting, they are harmless, a lot of people use drugs, you will feel part of the group’. It is all our responsibility as adults, parents, teachers, police health staff etc… to provide them with information on what the legal and health consequences of drug use are. As adults, we have to be careful that we do not over-react, but are able to talk about the negative aspects of the drug culture in a balanced way. Have they thought about the damage they can do to their education, their future career prospects, and their family if they are caught with drugs?
[back to the top]
How will I know if my child takes drugs? There are long list of so-called ‘signs and symptoms’, but the difficulty for parents is finding out whether the child is just going through a difficult adolescence or whether their behaviour is due to drug use. There are leaflets available describing these signs and symptoms which you can read at your leisure. Only you know your child, but you might like to watch for new friends, secretiveness, the need for sleep, lack of appetite, poor schoolwork etc. Do not wait for these symptoms to become full-blown problems. You are the parent and you do not need any additional justification for asking your child what is wrong, and feeling concerned. Talk in a caring way. [back to the top]
Where can parents get more information? There are national and local resources. In some countries, non-governmental organisations have established programmes and telephone help lines to assist concerned parents. The internet is also a useful source of information. [back to the top]
Is peer pressure stronger than a parent’s influence? When young people do not have access to accurate and balanced information they turn to friends to help decide what is good for them. This is the case is many issues not just drugs. Young people favour their peers as a credible source of information about drugs because they share views about adults and of what it is like to be growing up in their own environment. Young people tend to get positive messages about drugs rather than messages about the risks and damaging effects. When uninformed adults speak to young people about drugs they reveal their ignorance and reinforce the view that friends are a better source of information. When informed parents speak to young people about drugs, they can correct the partial or misleading information received from peers and challenge the acceptability of drug use amongst young people.
However, properly providing peer training can be an effective method of providing drug prevention programmes to young people. [back to the top]
What can employers do about drug misuse? Develop and carry out consistent drug in the workplace policies. Train supervisors. Provide awareness programmes. Link up with professionals in the community who know about drugs. Seek professional advice to develop workplace programmes. [back to the top]
If you have a question which isn't in our FAQ section, please type it in the box below and submit it to us. We will do our best to answer all drug-related questions by posting them on this page.