parents on addressing drug use by their child
Offer continued support.
It is crucial to avoid rejecting your child. This comes from your frustration, even
anger that things are not the way you want them to be. Remember that if you push your
child away you may relinquish any chance of being supportive later on. Try to balance the
support you provide against the need to gently expose your child to the consequences of
their actions, from which they can better learn about their decision making skills.
Communicate clearly and openly.
Avoid arguments by discussing the drug use rather than the person. Ignoring the
issue will not make it go away, so try to discuss the use openly and clearly outline your
thoughts and feelings towards it.
Gather information on drug use.
Present information on the drug(s) that the young person is using. This helps the
young person decide if the use is more harmful than beneficial.. Don't invent dangers that
benefits and costs of drug use with your child.
With the young person, write out and weigh up the good and less good things about
continued drug use. This is an effective strategy in increasing motivation to address the
Negotiate guidelines for any use.
Use the benefit/cost review as the basis for negotiated decisions about any
controlled use of a drug. If you agree to this, be sure both parties are clear about the
details of the agreement and a contingency plan, or the consequences, should the agreement
Get a balanced perspective on things.
Remind yourself that:
- the majority of adolescents mature out of use;
- much drug use is a common, normal part of life;
- adolescent drug use is similar to that of adults; and
- drug use does not equal abuse.
Address your own drug use.
Reflecting on your own drug use prior to addressing your son's or daughter's will
enable you to articulate the reasons for your alcohol, tobacco, analgesic use, if quizzed
by them. If your use is regular or problematic, you can expect to find it difficult to
convince your child that he/she should refrain from using drugs, given the model you have
provided for them. Instead, be a model for responsible drug use.
Remain calm, consistent and credible.
Being a stable and reliable figure during a confused or chaotic situation is
reassuring for all those around.
Don't forget your own needs.
This is likely to be a challenging time for parents, so partaking in enjoyable
activities in your free time, and being gentle and considerate with yourself, will allow
you to retain the energy you need to keep responding positively and constructively to the
Reframe the picture.
Sometimes situations involving a young person's drug use results in the parents
feeling anxious, perhaps pessimistic, about the possible outcomes. Imagining a flim-flam
gorilla can help to reframe the picture. That is, it might look bad or frightening
on the outside, but underneath is a real person. Thus, parents can maintain an awareness
of what is helpful for their son or daughter without getting overwhelmed by the drug use.
From: Mooney, David. (1996) Tips for Parents On
Addressing Drug Use By Their Child in Face2Face: A manual for
drug counselling in schools Published by: Health Issues Section, Health and
Personal Development Unit, Department of Education, Brisbane, Queensland.