Building Your Support Group

A support group can be a parent’s greatest ally when dealing with their teen’s use of drugs or alcohol.

The key step in dealing with a substance abuse problem is finding a trusted, professional counsellor. They are trained to listen and can help you find solutions to your problems. Most communities have established local coalitions that can support your family through this difficult time. Whatever path you take at this point, know that there are many caring professionals that want to help you successfully work through the situation.

Although it may be difficult to make the call, the earlier that you seek help for your child the better.

These are community and health specialists who can guide and inform you:

  • School counsellors and student assistance professionals
  • Employee assistance professionals
  • Family doctors or paediatricians
  • Nurses
  • Faith leaders
  • Community health centres
  • Adolescent prevention or treatment professionals
  • Local community anti-drug coalitions

Ask your child if there is someone they trust (like a coach or student advisor) and feel comfortable talking to. They shouldn’t necessarily make the final decision, but they are more likely to be an active participant if they have a say in what happens.

Seek advice from a health professional

Take your child to the doctor or talk to the school nurse and ask him or her about screening your child for drugs and alcohol. This may involve the health professional asking your child a simple question or it may involve a urine or blood drug screen. Sharing your concerns with your health professional can help you get the advice and assistance you need.  If you have an appointment with your child’s doctor, call ahead to make time to discuss this issue.

Other parents can provide support

Talk to other parents. It may also help to talk to other parents who have experienced what you are going through. Some communities have parent action groups or parent peer groups that meet informally to discuss parenting issues and discuss solutions. You may also find support via online parenting groups and community message boards.