What to do if your child is taking drugs

If you find your son or daughter has used or is using drugs, remember that blame is not helpful. Instead you can:

  • avoid reacting immediately - give yourself time to calm down and think through what’s happening
  • tell them you’re concerned about their wellbeing and that you think they might be using drugs - let them know you want to help
  • give them a chance to tell you what’s happening without interrupting or lecturing - ask them what drugs are being used, how often and where they are being used.

Don’t become the ‘drug squad’ and search for drugs.

The loss of trust will be greater than the benefit of anything you might find out. 

You can support your child by finding out if they want to stop using drugs.

Are they able to stop by themselves or do they need help? How can you support them?

If they are an older teenager and don’t want to stop using drugs, you may have to come to terms with the fact that they’re making their own life choices.

You still have the right to say they are not to use illegal drugs in your home or to come home under the influence of drugs.

Some parents tell their teenager to give up the drugs or they’ll have to leave home. If you say this, be sure it’s what you really want. 

While your teen needs to accept the consequences of their choices, it is also important they have somewhere safe to go.

If their drug use brings them into contact with the legal system, give them moral support but allow them to face the consequences of their choices.

Rescuing them, for example by paying their fines, often results in them continuing to use drugs.

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Last updated: 18 September 2017