If you’re going to talk to someone about their drug use, you should always try and find out what he or she thinks – and listen. Just being there and listening to them is a huge part of what you can do for them.
Some people suffer in silence, thinking their family or friends won’t understand their problems. It’s critical that you hear what they have to say so you can understand their problems and point them in the right direction. But you shouldn’t feel like you have to take on the problem yourself. There are a range of people you can talk to and services available that offer support.
To talk to someone call the Know the Score Helpline on 0800 587 5879.
To find help and support in your area, check our directory of services.
Starting a conversation about someone else’s personal life can be hard and you don’t always have to confront difficult topics head on.
It’s difficult to talk in the middle of a crisis, so you may want to choose a time when things are a little more settled. The best conversations happen when both people are ready to listen to each other at the same time.
The person you are worried about may already have a good idea of how you feel about drugs and alcohol, even if you hardly ever talk about them. Ideas of right and wrong come across through what you say and do – how you feel about work, what you do for fun and how you get on with friends and family.
If you decide that you want to talk to your friend about his or her drug or alcohol use, follow these simple steps:
- Always have the conversation when your friend is not influenced by drugs or alcohol.
- Work out what you want to say in advance.
- Write an email or note if you feel uncomfortable talking face-to-face.
- Try and use the correct tone – how you say something is as important as what you say. A supportive, caring tone usually works best. Be assertive, not aggressive.
- Back up your case – your friend may think you’re just being critical, so try to give examples of how you feel when you see him or her use drugs. For example, “You are my best friend but I feel like you’re a different person when you’re high.”
- If they become angry, suggest that you talk about it at another time, or that they seek help from a trusted source like Know the Score.
Lots of parents worry about their children taking drugs. Maybe you feel that you don’t know much about drugs, that you’re not sure what to say about them to your kids and that they might not want to listen to you.
You might be doing better than you realise. Your kids probably do care what you think even if they don’t show it. What matters even more is them being able to tell you what they think and feel too.
For more information, download Drugs: what every parent should know. This guide will help you feel more confident when speaking to your kids.
When it comes to dealing with teenagers and drugs, it helps to talk but importantly to listen without judgement.
Reason’s young people take drugs
Curiosity – Of course some will choose to ignore the warnings. They may do this out of simple curiosity or as part of a desire to take risks.
Frustration – Sometimes, the decision to experiment with drugs might stem from frustration over personal or family problems.
Environment – Young people’s experience of drugs can vary a lot depending on where they live. In some urban areas, drug misuse is common; but drugs are also available in rural and suburban areas.
You don’t have to be an expert to talk to your kids about drugs. And there’s no harm in admitting that you know less than they do. Remember you support and teach them lots of things and it’s unlikely you’re an expert in all of those things either.
Try showing an interest in the subject to get an open discussion going.
If the opportunity comes along, helping your kids with research for a drugs project at school is a great way for both of you to learn the facts and to discuss them together. It’s also a chance to involve younger or older members of the family in the discussion.
Stick to the facts
Plain facts speak for themselves and making too much of the dangers can make drugs seem more glamorous.
All drugs are potentially harmful and kids need to be aware of this, so discussing the facts can help dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings.
What if my child is using drugs?
Try not to jump to conclusions
Your son or daughter may not show obvious signs of having taken drugs, so you can’t always tell for sure. The best thing you can do is find out the facts. You will need to be able to talk, listen and understand.
If you think your son or daughter is under the influence of drugs, wait until they recover before trying to talk.
Conversation do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t force the issue. Some of the best conversations come out of the blue – like when you’re clearing up after a meal, or watching TV.
- Do listen with an open mind.
- Do say what you believe.
- Do show you care.
- Don’t preach.
- Don’t use scare tactics
What if I’ve found something suspicious?
If you’re worried, or you find drugs or any equipment to do with drugs, ask for help. You shouldn’t feel you have to deal with this on your own.
Call the confidential Know the Score Helpline – 0800 587 5879.
Talking to someone who is trained to deal with your particular problem can make all the difference. With the help of a skilled and experienced drugs counsellor you may find that you and your child are able to talk and listen to each other more easily.
Alternatively, check for local sources of help and support in our directory of services.
You can also browse the rest of this website for more helpful tips and information.