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Teens using drugs and alcohol

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

Teen boy sitting with his head in his hands surrounded by thoughts of different substances

As a parent, you may be unsure how to protect your child from the misuse of alcohol and drugs

Parenting a teen involves being well informed about the facts and supporting them to manage the risks.

It's hard to know when and how to communicate about this issue and to make decisions about rules and consequences.

Mum with teen girl surrounded by thoughts of different substances

Drug and alcohol use among teens

An overview for parents:

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

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

Misuse leads to impaired judgement and cognitive decline

Misuse can also lead to physical, psychological and sexual problems

Drug use can lead to arrests and legal proceedings  

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

Types of substances that can be misused

Detailed information including slang names for drugs can be found at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
Alcohol (as well as products containing alcohol)
Tobacco products
Inhalants (paint, glue, nail polish, deodorants)
Medications (pain killers, cough medicine, sedatives, stimulants)
Energy drinks
Performance enhancers (steroids)
Illicit substances (amphetamines, cannabis, heroin)

"I try to keep calm and set clear rules about what is and isn't acceptable and why."

- Frankie, parent to 17 year old

What can you do to manage the risks?

Let your child know you care, listen to their concerns and try to remain approachable.

Accept that teens take risks in order to learn

Find opportunities to discuss the issue in a low-key way

Calm conversations will always be more productive

Avoid the temptation to exaggerate the dangers - be realistic

Be aware of the laws in your State and Territory

Be a role model for responsible use of alcohol and drugs

Support your child to make their own decision by thinking through the consequences

Reassure them that you'll help them if they’ve ever taken something and are not safe

Keep alcohol and medications out of the reach of younger children

Set clear expectations and consequences for your child about drug or alcohol use

In emergencies call Poisons Information 13 11 26 or an ambulance 000 if needed

If your child is struggling, help them seek professional support

As a parent, you are not alone – contact Parentline in your State or Territory

You're not alone in wanting to protect your child from alcohol and drug misuse

There’s support available for parents if you’re looking for information and guidance. Try calling Parentline in your State or Territory for assistance.

Encourage your teen to contact Kids Helpline if they need additional support and somebody to talk to about their concerns. They can give us a call, start a WebChat or send us an email today.

This content was last reviewed 14/02/2018

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