Talk to your child about alcohol and drugs

Date published: 14 August 2019

Thousands of young people will get their exam results over the next week or so. Parents are urged to talk to their children about the risks associated with drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

Problems with alcohol

Many teenagers will perhaps be celebrating or commiserating after getting their grades. This may lead to drinking alcohol or drug taking, so there’s an important role for parents to talk to their children about the risks.

Parents’ attitudes and behaviours in relation to alcohol and drugs have a strong influence on their children.

Parents can make the first move and talk frankly about the dangers of binge drinking and encourage their children to have fun with friends without alcohol.

If their child is of the legal drinking age, parents should encourage them to take care if they choose to drink.

Staying within the safe drinking limits is important, as excessive drinking can have lasting effects on health, such as damage to the liver, heart, brain and stomach.

Parents should:

  • make the first move and bring up the topic of alcohol - don’t wait until there’s a problem before deciding to talk
  • take time to listen to what their child has to say
  • respect their child's views if they want the same in return
  • talk about the risks associated with drinking alcohol
  • talk about possible consequences of their actions and support them to make the right choices
  • think about their own drinking and the influence this can have on their child’s behaviour

Parents shouldn't:

  • assume their child doesn’t want to talk - not talking about alcohol could be interpreted as approval of them drinking
  • assume their child already knows everything
  • interrupt or be judgemental, even if they don’t agree with their child's opinion

You can find out more about young people and drinking at the following page:


Parents are also encouraged to talk to their children about drug use and the risks associated with it.

The misuse of any drugs, including prescription medication that hasn't been prescribed for them, can result in damage to health, or even death.

You can also never be exactly sure of the make-up of recreational drugs, whether sold as illicit drugs or as ‘legal highs’.

It is strongly recommended that you do not take them. 

Parents can play an important role in helping young people to understand these risks, so they don’t choose to take drugs without realising the harm they could be exposing themselves to.

The only way to avoid risks is to not take drugs.

Also, never mix alcohol and any drug.

You can get more information about drugs on these pages:

If someone has taken drugs and is feeling unwell, please seek medical help urgently.

Mental health

Results time can also have an impact on young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

No getting the grades they hoped for can result in them feeling anxious or low. Disappointment is an understandable reaction, but parents are urged to look out for behaviour or feelings that could mean their child is showing signs of stress.

More information can be found on the mental health pages.

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