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Tips For Parents On Addressing
Drug Use By Their Child

The following text by David Mooney (1995), is useful for both parents and workers. Workers managing young people in care with drug use issues may find this helpful. Staff supporting parents with drug using children should also view the site, working with parents of drug using young people. Related Internet sites are also provided at the end of this page.

Tips for parents on addressing drug use by their child

Offer continued support
Communicate clearly and openly
Gather information on drug use
Review the benefits and costs of drug use with your child
Negotiate guidelines for any use
Get a balanced perspective on things
Address your own drug use
Remain calm, consistent and credible
Don't forget your own needs
Reframe the picture

Tips for parents on addressing drug use by their child

Offer continued support.

It is crucial to avoid rejecting your child. This comes from your frustration, even anger that things are not the way you want them to be. Remember that if you push your child away you may relinquish any chance of being supportive later on. Try to balance the support you provide against the need to gently expose your child to the consequences of their actions, from which they can better learn about their decision making skills.

Communicate clearly and openly.

Avoid arguments by discussing the drug use rather than the person. Ignoring the issue will not make it go away, so try to discuss the use openly and clearly outline your thoughts and feelings towards it.

Gather information on drug use.

Present information on the drug(s) that the young person is using. This helps the young person decide if the use is more harmful than beneficial.. Don't invent dangers that don't exist.

Review the benefits and costs of drug use with your child.

With the young person, write out and weigh up the good and less good things about continued drug use. This is an effective strategy in increasing motivation to address the use.

Negotiate guidelines for any use.

Use the benefit/cost review as the basis for negotiated decisions about any controlled use of a drug. If you agree to this, be sure both parties are clear about the details of the agreement and a contingency plan, or the consequences, should the agreement break down.

Get a balanced perspective on things.

Remind yourself that:

  1. the majority of adolescents mature out of use;
  2. much drug use is a common, normal part of life;
  3. adolescent drug use is similar to that of adults; and
  4. drug use does not equal abuse.

Address your own drug use.

Reflecting on your own drug use prior to addressing your son's or daughter's will enable you to articulate the reasons for your alcohol, tobacco, analgesic use, if quizzed by them. If your use is regular or problematic, you can expect to find it difficult to convince your child that he/she should refrain from using drugs, given the model you have provided for them. Instead, be a model for responsible drug use.

Remain calm, consistent and credible.

Being a stable and reliable figure during a confused or chaotic situation is reassuring for all those around.

Don't forget your own needs.

This is likely to be a challenging time for parents, so partaking in enjoyable activities in your free time, and being gentle and considerate with yourself, will allow you to retain the energy you need to keep responding positively and constructively to the situation.

Reframe the picture.

Sometimes situations involving a young person's drug use results in the parents feeling anxious, perhaps pessimistic, about the possible outcomes. Imagining a flim-flam gorilla can help to reframe the picture. That is, it might look bad or frightening on the outside, but underneath is a real person. Thus, parents can maintain an awareness of what is helpful for their son or daughter without getting overwhelmed by the drug use.

From: Mooney, David. (1996) Tips for Parents On Addressing Drug Use By Their Child in Face2Face: A manual for drug counselling in schools Published by: Health Issues Section, Health and Personal Development Unit,  Department of Education, Brisbane, Queensland.

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bullet What should you do if you discover your son/daughter is taking drugs?

Don't panic


Get the facts


Show your concern


Recognise problems


Don't blame yourself

From Godfrey, Vernon, Hebron, Carr-Gregg & Toumbourou (1997 - Unpublished) Adolescents and Substance Use: A Resource Manual for Parent Educators

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Related Internet Sites:

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You can download a free copy of Acrobat Reader by clicking on the button below
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Treatments for ADD ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) (USA)

How Parents Influence Adolescent Alcohol Consumption (WA - PDF)

Parent Drug Aware Booklet (WA - PDF)

Information for Parents - 6 different items provided (NSW CEIDA)

Parents Advice on Teenagers & Drugs (SA)

Teenagers Parties (SA)

Planning Your Party - for Secondary Students (WA - PDF)

Information for Youth on Drugs (SA)

Parents Communicating With Your Teenager About Drugs (VIC ADF)

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Introduction ] Parent Risk Assessment ] Child Abuse ] Parents of Youth Drug Use ] [ Parent Tips ] Adolescents ]

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