Parents – How to start AOD Conversations with a Young Person
It can be difficult for parents to start conversations with young people about their Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) use. But, as a parent if you think your child/young person is using AOD, it is really important to have conversations around it in a positive non-judgemental way without making any assumptions and lecturing. Initial conversations are really important as it is the first step to gain the trust of your child to have ongoing AOD conversations.
Firstly, educate yourself about the drugs your child may be using currently or may use in future and its effects and have a clear idea about what really concerns you about the AOD use.
Secondly, organize a comfortable time and location with privacy to make it easier for the young person to talk about AOD use as it can be challenging for them. For example, talk while driving to the young person’s favourite place, talk while walking or talk while sitting side by side.
Do not try to have the conversation when the young person is intoxicated, when they are on their way out of the house or do not interrupt them while they doing something important to them.
Conversation starter tips:-
“I have observed recently that you looked little bit different than usual/unhappy, I am a bit worried that everything is not going OK with you, what is going on”.
“How’s the relationship with your friends going? I haven’t seen them for a while now”.
“You don’t really talk about school and your friends these days, how’s that going?”
It is OK to start with direct questions about drug use but don’t make assumptions that they are using drugs, avoid questions in relation to how often, quantity, where they get it from, with whom you use it? Why they use it? Use open ended questions and listen to them actively. Reassure the young person that they are loved.
How to support if the young person is using AOD
Try to find out what is going on in your child/young person’s life, be calm and try to initiate the conversation about what they think about drug use and add your thoughts and worries.
Assure them that you are available to talk and to provide other support in the future. Young people may not accept that their AOD use is dangerous and recovery is often a long and difficult process. Let them know that there iseffective help available to help people to minimise or to stop their drug use.
Discuss the different support available such as individual and group education/information sessions, counselling, rehabilitation and detox centres and help them to choose what support is suitable according to their needs and interests.
CatholicCare NT’s DAISY Program (Drug and Alcohol Support for Youth) provides support to young people using substances and their families. The DAISY program is a harm reduction program which provides outreach to young people between the ages of 12 and 19 years.
Re-assure the young person that you will be providing support throughout the recovery journey. Also, provide the required support to the young person to complete education and find work/ chase his passion to keep himself busy/divert from drugs and also help to help himself to be independent towards a successful life.
Warning signs for young people using AOD
Sometimes there may be no signs or symptoms that a young person is using drugs or alcohol.
Possible indications of drug use may include altered mood or behaviour, changes to appetite, energy levels, less motivation.
Issues with family and relationships.
They are unable to carry out normal responsibilities at school, work, or family time.
Dropped out from work and social or recreational/sport activities are reduced or completely given up.
Wanting more pocket money, stealing money.
Often getting late to come back from school/education/work with unsatisfactory explanations.
Positive Choices, Drug Education Parent Booklet, October 2019