Drugs and your child
If you think your child is using drugs, your natural reaction may be to panic (and shout). Wait until you feel calmer and then talk to your child.
Is your child using drugs?
Possible signs of drug use can include changes in appearance, friends, interests, eating and sleeping habits, moods and openness. But these signs are often a natural part of growing up. A young person who is not using drugs could show the same changes.
Finding out more
When you do talk:
- try to talk to them when you are calm
- knowledge is power find out information from the Talk to Frank website or call the Talk to Frank drugs information helpline on 0800 77 66 00
- get someone to help you it helps to have someone else in the room whom your child likes and respects
- avoid asking 'Why?' it will put them on the defensive
- don't get hung up on blame the future is more important
- it's better to know the truth there's no evidence that talking about drugs leads to drug use
- give the child space focus the discussion what they are going through
- assumptions can be dangerous let them explain in their own words what's going on for them, and treat what they say seriously
- set clear limits they need to know your feelings
- they're never too young for a chat don't discourage the conversation, and encourage them to tell you if they are ever offered drugs
- older children: starting secondary schools is a difficult and vulnerable time
- take your time and be ready to listen be patient, and make sure that you won't be interrupted
- remember the three Rs: reassure, reassure, reassure.
If your child does have a drug problem it is important for them to know that you will be there for them from answering simple questions to helping them through difficult times. It's worth telling them that you trust them, but at the same time feel free to show disappointment if this trust is broken.
More information is available from the Talk to Frank helpline on 0800 77 66 00 or by visiting the Talk to Frank website. Remember, most young people who try drugs do not go on to become problem users.
What the law says
If your child is caught in possession of a controlled drug they have committed a criminal offence.
Many children and young people are unclear about the law relating to drugs and the possible consequences for them in later life. If your child is caught in possession of a controlled drug they have committed a criminal offence and this will be recorded by the police. The young person could also be prevented from taking up certain jobs or professions, and visiting other countries.
For a first offence, your child may receive a formal warning or a formal caution. If they are between 10 and 17 years old and commit further offences, including selling or smuggling drugs, they could be charged and dealt with by a Youth Court.
It is worth remembering that as a parent you could also run the risk of breaking the law in certain circumstances, simply by turning a blind eye. If you know that your child is sharing illegal drugs with a friend in your home and you do nothing to stop it, you may be committing an offence. Knowingly allowing the smoking of cannabis in your home is also an offence.
If you take illegal drugs from your child to try to stop them committing an offence, you must either destroy the drugs or hand them to the police as soon as possible. By having the drugs in your possession you may also be committing an offence, even if you have no intention of using them.
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