Supporting your child - drugs and alcohol

If you are worried about your child's use of drugs or alcohol, here is our advice and information on where you can get help.

Substance misuse is one of the most common and yet preventable risks to a young person’s health and development. All drugs have the potential to cause harm some can be addictive and using drugs in combination can increase risk.

Alcohol and tobacco are strongly addictive; both legal and illegal drugs and their use amongst teenagers and young adults is widespread. Illegal drugs include cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin. Teenagers are likely to experiment, test boundaries and take risks. Smoking, drinking and trying drugs is one of the most common ways in which young people do this. There are things you can do to help your child, but if you think your child may be using alcohol or drugs to help them cope with worries or mental health problems, go to your GP. 

These are things that may really make a difference:

  1. Be a responsible role model. You will influence your child’s attitudes about alcohol and drugs well before they have their first experience with them.
  2. Talk openly and honestly about alcohol whenever your children start asking you questions about it – the reasons why you enjoy it (sociability, relaxation), the drawbacks (hangovers, sickness, bad skin) as well as the dangers and risks alcohol poses.
  3. Make conversations about alcohol, drugs and safe choices part of the day-to-day rather than a one-off ‘big talk’.
  4. Help your child learn to make safe and healthy decisions.
  5. Be clear about the connections between drink and drugs, and their capacity to boost confidence and self-esteem. Help your daughter/son to strengthen their sense of wellbeing in healthier ways – exercise, sport, music, friends, encouragement etc.
  6. Find out what you can about the law and the health and safety risks associated with under-age drinking.
  7. Find out what you can about illegal drugs, their names, their effects, so that you can be well informed.

Where can I get help?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

  • Support groups that help people share their experiences and solve their problem of alcoholism
  • Freephone UK helpline: 0800 9177 650
  • Email: [email protected]


  • Provides information on treatment services for young people, adults and families with problems with drugs and alcohol.  120 services across UK – check if your postcode is covered.                   
  • Email: [email protected]

Al-Anon Family Groups

  • Provides support to families affected by alcoholism
  • Helpline: 020 7403 0888 (Daily 10:00 - 22:00)


  • Provides support for teenage relatives and friends of alcoholics
  • Phone: 020 7593 2070


  • Helping families affected by drugs and alcohol find local support groups.


  • Listen to 33 young people in their own homes share their personal stories on film about the experience of drugs and alcohol. 


  • An independent charity working to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK, helping people make better choices about drinking.
  • A special section offers advice, tips and facts for parents of underage drinkers.


  • For people who are concerned about their drinking, or someone else's drinking regardless of the caller’s age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or spirituality.
  • Freephone helpline: 0300 123 1110  (weekdays 09:00–20:00, and weekends 11:00-16:00) 


  • Information and advice for parents about alcohol and drugs and underage drinking

Talk to Frank

  • Provides confidential advice and information about drugs, including legal highs and advice for young people & parents    
  • Helpline: 0300 123 6600 (24hours)
  • SMS: 82111                                               
  • Email: [email protected]                  
  • Webchat (14:00-16:00)


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