Safe Parenting Handbook >> Drug misuse

"At first I thought it was just a teenage thing. David started to come home late, a row always started and he'd storm off to his room. He was losing weight, looked terrible and I felt he was lying to us. He just wanted to be out all the time."

  • Many parents worry that their child may use drugs
  • Prevention is better than cure
  • Drug use is increasing amoung young people
  • Make sure you know about drugs and their possible effects
  • Talk to your childen about drugs from a young age

How would I know?

If you find out that your child has or may have taken drugs, it can be frightening because of the potential effects. This can be due to your lack of knowledge about drugs and not feeling confident about talking about them. Most young people who experiment with drugs do not go on to use them on a permanent basis. Therefore addiction, crime and death are not as usual as the stories in the media can lead us to believe.

It is vitally important, however, that children are aware of the risks of using drugs, alcohol and substances. More young people experience problems caused by too much drinking than through drug use.

Drug use amoung young people - how widespread is it?
Drugs are more widespread among children and young people than ever before.

Research shows that about one in twelve 12 year olds are one in three 14 year olds have tried drugs. By the time they reach 16 years of age, two in every five young people will have tried one time of drug or a mixture of drugs. These figures apply across all ethnic groups, whilst drug use is increasing amongst girls.

It is important to discuss drug use early. Some parents/carers worry that doing this encourages their child to use drugs. Avoiding talking about drugs will not protect them. Children will be aware of drugs in some way before they leave primary school. It is likely that at this early stage, children will be more responsive to being told about the risks of drug use. Make sure you tell your children about the risks. Accurate information and support will help them decide what to do. It does not guarantee non-use but will increase the chance of an informed choice.

Why do young people use drugs?
They are curious about them, they want to break the rules, to relax, to escape reality, to cope with difficult situations or feelings, because they enjoy them, because their friends do it.

How would I know?
There are many telltale signs, which include a young person who is paniky, tense or drowsy, complaining of sickness, has impaired concentration, lack of energy, depression, skin problems or aggression.

Warning Signs
What to say
In general terms if your child's appearance, behaviour or financial situation changes dramatically you should include drug and alcohol use in your list of "I wonder if...." questions. Observe and talk to your child if you are worried. In an emergency contact the ambulance immediately. If your child is not in immediate danger, talk with them about their drug use at another time when they are not using. Use every opportunity to discuss drug use, for example, when drugs are mentioned in a television programme. You can give accurate informatiom regarding the risks of drug use at an early age. Ensure that you are informed about drug use and the effects of different types of drugs. There are many helpful guides available from the helplines listed under contacts.
  • National Drug Helpline (24 hour free advice, if you are worried about any child including your own) 0800 66 00
  • Drug Aid 029 208 1200
  • Gwent Alcohol Project 01633 252045
  • Communities Against Drugs 01495 768300
  • North Gwent Drug & Alcohol Project 01495 308009
  • Young Persons Substance Misuse Team 01873 735566
  • Drugs & Family Support 01495 292020
  • ADFAM 020 7928 8898

Blaenau Gwent Local Safeguarding Children's Board, Heart of the Valleys Children's Centre, Old Blaina Infant School,
High Street, Blaina, Blaenau Gwent, NP13 3BN - Tel: 01495 355584