The majority of teenagers don’t smoke or drink alcohol. They are even less likely to experiment with illicit drugs. For those who do try drugs, many won’t go on using drugs regularly and only a small number will develop serious problems.
Below is some advice for parents who are concerned about their children and drugs.
Positive influences – the best defence
Most drug prevention programs emphasise the important influence that parents and guardians have on children. Good parenting is the best defence against drug use. Try to encourage the following:
strong family bonds and mutual respect
clear and consistent boundaries
shared family life
involvement in activities
a positive school environment
a sense of belonging
promoting rights and responsibilities
stressing the consequences of personal behaviour.
Signs of drug use
It can be difficult to tell if a young person is using drugs as some common signs such as mood swings and physical changes, are also part of normal adolescent development. Look for opportunities to talk with your child about drug use. Be specific about the things you have seen that are worrying you. Listen to their responses.
Expressing concern about the particular behaviour and not directly accusing your child can make it easier for them to come to you.
Some factors that can indicate drug use include:
intoxication - slurred speech, small or large pupils, red eyes, sweating, unusually talkative, very happy or sad, feeling or being sick, eating a lot
unusual items - syringes, 'bongs' (bottles with a piece of hose used as a water pipe), bits of foil, pieces of hose, bent spoons
increased spending, valuables going missing
marked mood changes
physical changes – gaining or losing weight, changes in sleeping patterns, skin rashes or sores
frequent accidents – falling over, bumping into things or having car accidents
school grades dropping, losing a job, unexpectedly withdrawing from social groups
secretive phone calls, new friends and breaking away from long-term friends
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