Information kit includes how-to talk to your kids video, 7 talking tips graphic and other resources.
How do I know if my child is using drugs?
It is important never to automatically assume your child hasn’t already or isn’t thinking about experimenting with drugs - it’s not always as obvious as we think. Below are common signs and symptoms of drug use among kids:
- Abrupt change in mood or attitude
- Sudden decline in attendance or performance at school
- Sudden resistance to discipline at home or school
- Increased borrowing of money from parents or friends
- Heightened secrecy about actions or possessions
How do I talk to my child about drug use?
Parents often put a lot of pressure on themselves to ‘get it right,’ which can turn conversations into lectures.
How young people respond to these talks has little to do with the content of what you’re saying and everything to do with the existing and developing quality of your relationship (trust, respect, understanding, love) with your child.
1. Be open, loving and involved
- Respect that youth are experts in their own culture, so invite your child to teach you about their world. Make talking and having conversations about a variety of subjects with your kids a regular part of your day.
- Praising positive behaviour, showing respect and demonstrating genuine interest in your kids’ lives on an ongoing basis will help make you more approachable to them when they are running into difficulties and need someone to talk to about their problems.
- Finding time to do things you enjoy together as a family helps everyone stay connected and maintain open communication.
2. Use the news
- You can use an external reference like social media, a newspaper article or TV show about drugs to start a conversation with your teenage child. Ask about what concerns, worries or questions that they have about ‘what is happening’.
3. Ask questions, then listen
- The best way to talk to your kid about drug use is to listen to them. Ask your child to teach you more about fentanyl and other drugs by inviting them to tell you what they’re hearing, seeing or have learned.
- Ask youth about the kinds of concerns and cautions youth are sharing with other youth about drugs and safety; about what steps have youth been taking to keep each other safe.
- Ask about what is it like for them for you to be talking about this.
4. Speak from the heart
- Focus on your heartfelt concerns for their safety and a deep regard for their wellness (in contrast to right/wrong, good/bad, obey/punish).
- Emphasize your deep caring, commitment to understand and be meaningfully present in their life in contrast to ‘setting them straight.’
We encourage school staff to use a trauma-informed approach to discussing drug use and overdoses. This means recognizing and acknowledging trauma, and being aware and sensitive to its dynamics. Some youth may be more affected by these materials than others.
Youth may have witnessed family members, friends, or significant others using substances, or may have used themselves. Youth who have suffered recent losses or who are coping with grief or toxic stress may also be triggered by overdose materials and education.
We recognize you are experts in what is developmentally appropriate in educational settings.
Here are some resources for schools to educate youth on sensitive issues in a trauma informed way that supports their mental health.
Download our 7 tips for talking to your kids about drugs infographic.
- For treatment options and resources throughout B.C., call the Alcohol and Drug Information Referral Service at 604-660-9382 or toll-free at 1-800-663-1441.
- Find youth substance use and outreach services in your community. Trained professionals offer free, confidential information, assessment, counselling and referral.
- Abbotsford Police Department: tips on talking to youth about drugs