Students

How to talk to my parents about drugs

Having a good relationship with your parents can be beneficial for everyone. Not only will the mood at home be more pleasant, but you will have someone to turn to for advice and help.

Your parents want to be part of your life. They want to know you’re safe, that you listen to them (at least a little), and that you appreciate their efforts.

“We need to talk!”

  • Don't know what to say?

    Guess what – neither do they. You’ve probably learned that parents are human – they make mistakes, they feel awkward discussing certain topics, and they want to be liked, just like you.

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  • "But they don't understand!"

    And maybe they don’t. But do you understand them? Try to putting yourself in their shoes – feel how much they love you, how scared they are of the mistakes you might make and how they just want you to succeed in life. 

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  • Express your worries

    Try expressing that you may be afraid and ask your parent or guardian not to be angry with you. You might start by saying, “I want to talk to you about something but I’m afraid you’ll get mad.” 

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  • Communication is Key

    After you’ve given it some thought, pull your parent or guardian aside and start talking. Make sure your tone of voice, words, and actions show a willingness to communicate and find solutions to the problem. 

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  • If all else fails

    Remember that by no means are parents your only resource. You can also reach out to close friends, teachers, or older people you trust and respect. But don’t count your parents out completely, especially on the important stuff. Your family can be a never-ending source of strength and support when everyone else goes back to their own lives.

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How do I talk to my friend?

Drugs can be a hard subject to discuss, especially if you think your friend or relative has a problem.

Try to stay open-minded and remember that, with the right help and support, most people overcome their use before any serious harm is caused. Also, even if you do offer support, they might not change their behavior.

There’s no right or wrong way to talk about drugs, but there are some general guidelines you can follow to make things easier.

Do’s & Dont’s

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    Do speak to your friend:
    • when you’re both sober and in the right state of mind
    • somewhere private and familiar (your friend might become emotional)
    • when you have plenty of time – it’s not a conversation you can rush
    • more than once – you may need to have several conversations

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    Do speak to your friend:

    • when you’re both sober and in the right state of mind
    • somewhere private and familiar (your friend might become emotional)
    • when you have plenty of time – it’s not a conversation you can rush
    • more than once – you may need to have several conversations
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    Don’t speak to your friend in a way that:
    • is judgmental or critical – it won’t help
    • doesn’t give them time to talk – try to speak less and listen more
    • assumes superiority – don’t act like you know better (even if that’s what you think)

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    Don’t speak to your friend in a way that:

    • is judgmental or critical – it won’t help
    • doesn’t give them time to talk – try to speak less and listen more
    • assumes superiority – don’t act like you know better (even if that’s what you think)

Starting the conversation

Find out if your friend is experimenting with drugs or if they may be addicted. Neither one is good—but you may need more support if your friend is addicted.

Just telling your friend that you’re concerned can be a big help. Your friend may not want to talk about it, and the effects of drugs on the brain may keep them from understanding but showing your concern can show them that it’s not just affecting them but also you. 

Suggest that they speak to a trusted adult who will keep it confidential. Maybe there’s a family friend who could help.

Understand that it’s never easy for anyone to admit that they have a drug problem. You’ll need to be patient and not give up easily.

Assure your friend you are there for them and that they are not alone. People with drug problems often have gotten in with the wrong crowd—and they don’t want to turn away from these so-called friends for fear of being alone.

Turn to a professional for immediate help if the problem looks to be too big for you to handle alone, or if you’re worried your friend may have suicidal thoughts that they could act on.

Some other questions you might have

How can I stop their drug use?
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How can I stop their drug use?

You can’t force your friend to do anything they don’t want to do, but you still might be able to help.

Start by encouraging your friend to stay away from the places where there might be drugs (like the pub or a friend's house), and suggest other activities.

You can also remind your friend of the potential dangers involved in taking lots of drugs and tell them where they can get some information about what they’re using. Whatever happens, make sure your friend knows you’re around and happy to talk – that you’re there to help and not judge.

Worrying about a friend’s drug use is stressful, and how you choose to deal with it is up to you. You might try to help your friend, you might decide to put up with it and not say much, or you might decide to step back and not offer much support.

There are pros and cons to each of these choices, and it’s essential you think of your own well-being when you decide on which approach to take. It may be that you need support and/or professional help yourself too.

You can’t force your friend to do anything they don’t want to do, but you still might be able to help.

Start by encouraging your friend to stay away from the places where there might be drugs (like the pub or a friend’s house), and suggest other activities.

You can also remind your friend of the potential dangers involved in taking lots of drugs and tell them where they can get some information about what they’re using. Whatever happens, make sure your friend knows you’re around and happy to talk – that you’re there to help and not judge.

Worrying about a friend’s drug use is stressful, and how you choose to deal with it is up to you. You might try to help your friend, you might decide to put up with it and not say much, or you might decide to step back and not offer much support.

There are pros and cons to each of these choices, and it’s essential you think of your own well-being when you decide on which approach to take. It may be that you need support and/or professional help yourself too.

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Will they get into trouble?
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Will they get into trouble?

If your friend needs medical help – either from a clinic or an ambulance – it’s essential that you tell the people helping everything you know about the drugs they’ve taken. If there is any drugs left, hand them over to the medics as it may help them understand the problem.

You will not get into trouble with the guards.

If  your friend is caught with drugs, they might get into trouble. They might get a warning, an arrest, a formal caution or a conviction. This will depend on the drugs they’re caught with and what they’re doing with them.

If your friend is caught with drugs at school or university they might get into trouble there too. Getting caught with drugs in school or college can lead to suspension or expulsion and the guards getting involved.

If your friend needs medical help – either from a clinic or an ambulance – it’s essential that you tell the people helping everything you know about the drugs they’ve taken. If there is any drugs left, hand them over to the medics as it may help them understand the problem.

You will not get into trouble with the guards.

If  your friend is caught with drugs, they might get into trouble. They might get a warning, an arrest, a formal caution or a conviction. This will depend on the drugs they’re caught with and what they’re doing with them.

If your friend is caught with drugs at school or university they might get into trouble there too. Getting caught with drugs in school or college can lead to suspension or expulsion and the guards getting involved.

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My friend told me in secret and I don't want to be break their confidence but I am worried about them?
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My friend told me in secret and I don't want to be break their confidence but I am worried about them?

It might be that your friend takes drugs to deal with a difficult situation, or block out something that’s happened in the past.

Your friend might have told you something very personal, which they don’t want you to repeat, but which is related to their drug use.

If this is the case, then you’ll probably need to get professional help for your friend – and you can do this without breaking your friend’s confidence by:

  • freephone HSE Drugs & Alcohol Helpline on 1800 459 459 for confidential advice or email the support service helpline@hse.ie
  • Contacting one of the young people’s and adult drug treatment organisations in your area. Find out what services are available for Cork & Kerry.
  • Telling your teacher/guidance councilor - they are here to help and will not break your or your friends confidence. They will know exactly how to handle situations like this. 

Remember, you don’t have to say what’s happened to your friend, just that your friend needs some help with managing their drugs use.

It might be that your friend takes drugs to deal with a difficult situation, or block out something that’s happened in the past.

Your friend might have told you something very personal, which they don’t want you to repeat, but which is related to their drug use.

If this is the case, then you’ll probably need to get professional help for your friend – and you can do this without breaking your friend’s confidence by:

  • freephone HSE Drugs & Alcohol Helpline on 1800 459 459 for confidential advice or email the support service helpline@hse.ie
  • Contacting one of the young people’s and adult drug treatment organisations in your area. Find out what services are available for Cork & Kerry.
  • Telling your teacher/guidance councilor – they are here to help and will not break your or your friends confidence. They will know exactly how to handle situations like this. 

Remember, you don’t have to say what’s happened to your friend, just that your friend needs some help with managing their drugs use.

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Stay safe & drug aware

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    It's normal to want to go out and have fun.

    A night out with the intention of partying could mean getting together with friends:

    • to hang out
    • go to a disco, pub or club
    • go to a private party at someone’s house
    • go to a music event or festival.
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    It's normal to want to go out and have fun.

    A night out with the intention of partying could mean getting together with friends:

    • to hang out
    • go to a disco, pub or club
    • go to a private party at someone's house
    • go to a music event or festival.
  • So what things do you need to think about?

    Thinking about how you will respond if you or your friends run into trouble will help you to reduce the risk of anyone coming to harm if things don’t go as planned.

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    So what things do you need to think about?

    Thinking about how you will respond if you or your friends run into trouble will help you to reduce the risk of anyone coming to harm if things don't go as planned.

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    Planning ahead

    It is always important to take care of yourself so you can enjoy:

    • life
    • friends
    • family
    • work
    • study

    Remember, before and after a night out:

    • drink plenty of water or juice
    • eat healthy food
    • rest and relax
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    Planning ahead

    It is always important to take care of yourself so you can enjoy:

    • life
    • friends
    • family
    • work
    • study

    Remember, before and after a night out:

    • drink plenty of water or juice
    • eat healthy food
    • rest and relax
  • Know where to get help

    The user can never tell exactly what an illegal drug contains, or what effect it will have, and this puts people at serious risk.

    It is always safer not to use drugs, but if someone does start to feel any bad effects, they may be in trouble and you need to get help fast.

    Every second counts! React fast and call 999/112 for an ambulance.

    Remember you WILL NOT get into trouble for trying to save somebody’s life. 

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    Know where to get help

    The user can never tell exactly what an illegal drug contains, or what effect it will have, and this puts people at serious risk.

    It is always safer not to use drugs, but if someone does start to feel any bad effects, they may be in trouble and you need to get help fast.

    Every second counts! React fast and call 999/112 for an ambulance.

    Remember you WILL NOT get into trouble for trying to save somebody's life. 

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Are you worried about substance misuse?

  • What's the cost of drinking?

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    See how much drinking is costing you by calculating your drinks here.

    Drinks Calculator

  • Worried about drug use?

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    Take the confidential and informative drug test online.

    Drug Test