Worried about someone else’s drug use?

Starting a conversation

Worried about your child’s drug use?

What if my child is using drugs?

What to do in an emergency



Do you have a friend or a loved one who takes drugs?


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


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.

Worried about your child’s drug use?


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.

How do I talk to my child about drugs?


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.

Get Involved

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.


What to do in an emergency


Knowing what to do in an emergency can save someone’s life. But if someone needs help urgently phone 999 straight away.

1. Open airway by tilting head back and lifting chin. 2. Look, listen and feel for signs of normal breathing.

3. If they are breathing:

  • Place or help them into the recovery position (see right)
  • Call 999 for an ambulance, or get someone else to do it if possible, and stay where you are with the person
  • Keep them warm.
4. An unconscious person who is breathing but has no other life-threatening conditions should be placed in the Recovery Position.

Recovery position: Turn them onto their side. Lift the chin forward to an open airway position and adjust hand under the cheek if necessary. Check that they cannot roll forwards or backwards. Monitor breathing and pulse continuously until help arrives. If injuries allow, turn the casualty to the other side after 30 minutes.

Dial 999 if you’re in any doubt about their condition and ask for the Ambulance Service. Stay calm, tell them what symptoms the person is suffering from and, if you know, what drugs they’ve taken. You will also need to give them your location if they need to send help.

If they are tense and panicky

  • Try to calm them down
  • Tell them where they are, what’s happening, and reassure them that everything’s going to be OK
  • Keep them away from things that might make them more panicky, like loud noises and bright lights
  • If they’re breathing too quickly or gasping for breath, try to get them to copy you as you breathe slowly and regularly
  • Get medical help.

If they’re drowsy but awake

  • Call 999 for an ambulance or get someone else to do it
  • Try to keep them awake and alert
  • Don’t give them anything to eat or drink as it may cause problems later.

If they’re dehydrated – looking very red and hot, but not sweating

  • Call 999 for an ambulance or get someone else to do it
  • Move them to a cool place and make sure they’ve got plenty to drink (if fully alert)
  • Open windows to cool the room if possible.

If they’re unconscious (not awake)

  • Call 999 for an ambulance as soon as possible or get someone else to do it
  • Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths
  • If the person is breathing, move them on their side and gently tilt their head back, loosening any tight clothing around their neck and chest
  • The ambulance call-handler will assist you in managing the patient and will guide you in resuscitation if required
  • When the ambulance arrives tell the crew what happened, what you’ve already done to help the person, and what you think they have taken
  • If you have any of the substance taken, give it to the ambulance crew.

Where Else To Get Help

If you’re worried, anxious or need information or advice, call the Know the Score Helpline on 0800 587 5879 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 4pm at the weekend. For help in your local area, check our directory of helpful service