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Drugs and Alcohol (young people)

Advice for parents about teenage drinking and drug use/abuse

We asked young people what parents can do about their teenagers drinking or taking drugs. The answers given included:
 
  • Don’t ignore the fact that young people start drinking alcohol at a young age.
  • Talk to your children about drugs and alcohol; don’t ignore the issue!
  • Teach your children about drinking responsibly.
  • Be open with your children about drugs, but don’t tell them what to do.
  • If your child has a problem with drink or drugs, get help and advice to understand how you can help them.
  • Trying to control your child won’t stop them from using drugs.
 

Emma thinks that parents and others should acknowledge that people are drinking at a young age, whatever the law, and that alcohol is readily available to them.

Emma thinks that parents and others should acknowledge that people are drinking at a young age, whatever the law, and that alcohol is readily available to them.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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Drinking age limit or not they will be able to go out and get alcohol, and, I think people have to be aware that, if they want to think of it as a problem and I think it probably is then, but they just have to be aware, it’s naïve to think that people aren’t drinking from a young age, people now probably at thirteen are going to some park with a bottle of Vodka they’ve managed to, I don’t know, take from their parents’ cupboard or an older sibling’s bought for them, or, you know whatever it is, they will be able to get hold of the alcohol and they will drink so there needs to be this awareness of, eighteen would be an ideal, you know, it’s not, it’s not like that, it’s not like that at all, so that that needs to be understood, and parents need to understand that as well, they need to understand that if they are able to talk to their children about alcohol that would probably be better, you know? If you , if you are in a situation where, you know, you’re a young person and you have been drinking too much, if you know that you can go and be like, “Mum, Dad, I’ve drunk too much I need to go to hospital.” If you had that position I think that every parent would probably see that that is better than a young person thinking ‘I can’t go home right now I’m too drunk, I’ll go’ you know, somewhere else or whatever. There needs to be an understanding of parents that it’s a, it’s a part of growing up now I guess, and if they can introduce alcohol responsibly in the home from a younger age then I’d say that’s preferable, but I think recognition that young people are drinking is very important.
 

If your son or daughter has an addiction problem, Jim’s advice is to be understanding, open and non-judgemental.

If your son or daughter has an addiction problem, Jim’s advice is to be understanding, open and non-judgemental.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
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How do you think, what can they do to help their son or daughter?
 
Try to be understanding. Understand where the person’s coming from and why they are doing what they are doing. Understand that whatever trouble may be caused they’re not necessarily doing it just to hurt you but because the drugs have taken hold of them. It’s their addiction. It’s not them it’s their addiction. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde you can have two people in the same body. You can have that person and then that person on drugs, do you get me? And they’re two different people altogether. And again just sit down and talk and get things out in the open really and then take it from there. Try and get advice and help. Things I’ve just said really.
 
So parents also going to talk to GPs or check the Internet or go to the library to find advice and information?
 
But I think the best thing to do is to be open with the children because if you don’t they’re actually going to rebel against that.
 
To be open in which way?
 
Well in every way really. I mean just sit down and talk to them on a one-to-one basis and not try and preach or judge or shout or argue. I’ve known people in the past to lock their kids up in the bedroom until they are clean. That does not work.
 
Some of your friends?
 
Yeah it doesn’t work because you’ll just go and smash the window and jump out or smash the door down or whatever. They’ll get out of there somehow and they’ll go and score. It doesn’t work. 

You might also be interested in reading young people's views on family relationships, drugs and alcohol.

Last reviewed :July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.
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