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What to do if your child has taken alcohol or drugs

It can be frightening to see your child under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Knowing what to do can give you the confidence that you can look after them. It will also help you to stay calm.

If your child has taken alcohol or drugs:

  • stay calm and try not to panic
  • reassure them and try to keep their surroundings quiet
  • find out what they have taken - they may have taken drink and drugs - it may not be one or the other
  • keep checking on them when they feel better
  • do not try and discuss their drink or drug use while they are under the influence

Stay with them. Don’t leave a very drunk person to ‘sleep it off’. Blood alcohol can carry on rising for a time after a person stops drinking.

If they are unconscious, put them in the recovery position.

Related topic

Alcohol poisoning

Call your GP or an ambulance on 999 or 112 if you’re worried.

If they are drunk

Keep them supervised.

Wait until they have sobered up and you are both calm.

Find out as much as possible about what happened. Think about what your child needs to know so that it doesn’t happen again.

For example:

  • were they aware of how much they were drinking?
  • did they drink before they left the house?
  • did they feel anxious or under pressure?
  • had they planned to get drunk?
  • where did they get the alcohol?
  • were they in any risky situations - walking on dark roads or at risk of being taken advantage of sexually?
  • how it affected their night out

Help them to learn

Give them some information, based on what they tell you.

You could talk about:

  • the amount of alcohol in different drinks
  • how it’s dangerous to mix drinks, or drink very quickly
  • how too much alcohol in the bloodstream can lead to unconsciousness and death
  • the risks of accidents and injuries
  • how being out of control can lead them to behaving in a way they will regret

Related topic

Setting boundaries with young people around alcohol

page last reviewed: 08/11/2019
next review due: 08/11/2022

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