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What to do if you think your child is taking drugs

Many young people experiment with drugs and do not develop any issues.

If you think your child is taking drugs, try not to panic, there are some things you can do.

Stay calm

Getting angry or emotional probably will not help.

Take some time to get more information and plan how you want to deal with things.

Inform yourself

You may need to keep a close eye on them for a little while, to find out if they are taking drugs.

Some of the signs of drug use are normal for teenagers. For example, moodiness or losing interest in hobbies.

If they are taking drugs, find out what they are taking.

Learn more about the different types of drugs -

Find out why

Try to understand why your child is using drugs.

The best way to help depends on the type of drug and how they are using it.

If it’s occasional use with friends, you may need to keep a closer eye on them and limit their freedom.

Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP or local adolescent substance use service if:

  • you are concerned about your child's drug use

They can help you learn how to support your child.

Find your local adolescent substance use service -

Talk to them

Find a time when you will not be distracted or interrupted and you are both calm.

Listen to them and get as much information as possible. Try not to give your opinion, get angry or interrupt, as this may shut down the conversation.

Do not be afraid to take some time, especially if you are feeling very emotional or overwhelmed. You can tell them you will talk to them about it the next day. That way you can get more information, advice and support, from a friend or professional.


Parentline - a national helpline for parents.

Call 1890 927 277 or 01 873 3500

Do not ignore it

Things are not going to get better if you ignore what's happening. Especially if they are using alcohol or drugs to cope with a problem or they are at risk of dependence.

Your child may not want to talk, may get aggressive or just deny the problem. It may take a little time to get through to them and you may need to get extra help or advice, but do not give up.

Keep expressing concern for their wellbeing. Continue to highlight the specific issues which worry you while not blaming it on drug use.

Non-urgent advice: Get help with problem drug use

Freephone 1800 459 459 for confidential advice

Page last reviewed: 20 August 2022
Next review due: 20 August 2025