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Young People Using Alcohol And Drugs

Know the facts and get support to help your child manage the risks involved in alcohol and drug use.

Young people partying with drinks

Keeping your child safe from the misuse of alcohol and drugs

As a parent you might be unsure of how to protect your child from the risks of alcohol and drug use.

Even when you want to protect your kids from misusing alcohol and drugs, you might not know how to go about it in the best way.

Sometimes it’s hard to know when and how to talk about this issue. It can also be difficult to make decisions about rules and consequences in these situations.

Talking to your child about alcohol and drugs can be challenging, but being well informed of the facts will help you to understand and manage the risks.

Why do young people use alcohol and drugs?

Young people use alcohol and drugs, especially when experimenting, testing boundaries and risk taking in the teen years.

There are a number of reasons your child may use alcohol and drugs.

Some young people use drugs to:

  • Relax
  • Deal with peer pressure
  • Feel pleasure
  • Increase energy
  • Escape
  • Improve sleep
  • Build muscle
  • Cope with problems
  • Celebrate
  • Feel confident in social situations

Types of substances that can be misused

Impacts of substance misuse

While everybody’s experience with alcohol and drugs is different, here are some general themes around substance misuse:

Drug use can lead to arrests and legal proceedings

Misuse can result in behaviours that get in the way of relationships, work and study

A national survey found that more than 70% of teens aged 12-17 do NOT drink alcohol

Misuse can lead to physical issues, such as dependence, overdose and risky sexual behaviours

The age young people try smoking has tended to rise in recent years

Misuse of alcohol and drugs impacts families, bystanders and the community

Misuse of alcohol and drugs happens when a pattern of harmful use develops over time

Misuse can impair judgement and lead to psychological harm or illness

What can you do to help manage the risks?

Here are some of our tips to help you along the way:

  • Accept that young people, especially in the teen years, take risks in order to learn
  • Create a safe and supportive environment to discuss alcohol and drugs use with your child
  • Let your child know you care, listen to their concerns and remain approachable
  • Talk about the dangers of legally available substances, such as inhalants in spray cans and pain relief medications
  • Find out more about alcohol and drug issues for young people and avoid the temptation to exaggerate the dangers - get informed with accurate legal information
  • Reflect on your own use or misuse of alcohol and drugs. Be a role model for responsible use of alcohol and drugs
  • Support your child’s self-esteem and resilience and help them to find healthy ways to cope during difficult times
  • Set clear expectations and consequences for your child around alcohol and drugs use
  • Keep alcohol and medications out of your child’s reach to reduce their access to these substances
  • Let your child know they can call you or talk to you if they are concerned about their drug use or need help
  • In emergencies call Poisons Information on 13 11 26 for advice or an ambulance on 000 if needed
  • If your child is struggling help them seek professional support or talk to them about contacting Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800
  • As a parent, you are not alone – give Parentline a call if you are needing some support to figure things out

You might worry about your child and how you can protect them from alcohol and drugs misuse

Counselling support is available to help you navigate these issues.

This content was last reviewed 15/05/2018

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