If your child has begun to experiment with alcohol or drugs, it’s time for a conversation

The first step – breathe and stay calm. Your child needs you to be firm and focused.

You’ve just found out that your child is using substances – it’s a good time to start talking – and actively listen to what they are saying.

It’s important for parents to understand why their child might have turned to alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs in the first place – kids will try substances for a number of different reasons, including as a way to cope with the stress and anxiety they may be feeling.

We have all been through a lot of challenges during the COVID pandemic, and your child’s mental wellness may have been negatively impacted.

Have a conversation about how they are feeling about the challenges they may be facing and help them understand that there are many more healthy ways for them to manage negative feelings. Ask your child what might see as benefits to using alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs.

Your child may feel that substances help him or her escape boredom, fit in better with their peers or get a thrill, escape from perceived problems or ease their anxiety in school.

Finding healthy alternatives together that address the reasons why they might have used in the first place may help your teen reduce their occasional drug use or choose to abstain completely.

The DFK Resources for Parents page has more information to help you understand the effects of alcohol, cannabis, and vaping on youth and engage in effective conversations to help your child make more healthy choices.