Childline advice for parents worried about drugs and alcohol in teenagers

by My Kent Family reporter

Pushing boundaries is part and parcel of growing up.

And for parents of teenagers, issues surrounding alcohol or drugs are a concern.

In her latest column for My Kent Family, Childline services manager Wendy Robinson discusses how families can keep young people safe and make them aware of the risks they may face:

Parents must talk to their teenagers, says Childline
Parents must talk to their teenagers, says Childline

It’s inevitable that young people will be offered a drink at some point.

They are less likely to be offered drugs but as with alcohol, it’s best to have open, honest discussions.

Talking about it early in life can prevent them binge drinking in their late teens. Have a few, brief conversations over time.

Ask them what they know – do they understand the effects that drugs and alcohol can have on them? Do they know how much alcohol is too much?

It’s also important to be a good role model – if they see you taking risks they may be inclined to do the same.

Talk about the risks – make sure they know about the possibility of drinks being spiked so they can keep themselves and their friends safe.

Explain to them there's a link between alcohol, anti-social behaviour and sexual activity and how they can keep themselves safe by drinking in moderation.

Set boundaries to help them stay safe - give them a curfew and make sure you talk about how they intend to get home.

Keep in contact and make sure they have enough battery and credit on their phone and ensure that they know what to do if they or a friend become unwell or put themselves in danger.

Teenagers need to know the risks says Wendy Robinson
Teenagers need to know the risks says Wendy Robinson

Remember that although teenagers often try alcohol before they’re 18, it’s not normal for them to get drunk regularly, drink excessively on their own or be dependent on alcohol.

If you’re concerned about your child’s drinking, your GP can help or you can get help from Drinkline on 0300 123 1110.

If you’re worried your child may be using or experimenting with drugs a GP can also refer them for counselling and to other local support and treatment services.

If your child needs someone to talk to remember they can call and speak to our trained Childline counsellors 24/7, free and in confidence, by calling 0800 1111. Or there’s advice on the Childline website – www.childline.org.uk.

Further advice on the law around drugs and alcohol can also be found on the NSPCC website https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/drugs-alcohol

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