Substance Misuse

Many parents worry that their child may use drugs


How would I know?

If you find out that your child has or may have taken drugs, it can be frightening because of the potential effects.  This can be due to your lack of knowledge about drugs and not feeling confident about talking about them.


Most young people who experiment with drugs do not go on to use them on a permanent basis.  Therefore addiction, crime and death are not as usual as the stories in the media can lead us to believe. 


It is vitally important, however, that children are aware of the risks of using drugs, alcohol and volatile substances (e.g. solvents). More young people experience problems caused by too much drinking than through drug use.  Make sure you know about drugs and their possible effects.  Fife schools teach drug education with health, personal social and development curriculum.


It is important to discuss drugs use early. Some parents/carers worry that doing this encourages their child to use drugs.  Avoiding talking about drugs will not protect them. Children will be aware of drugs in some way before they leave primary school. It is likely that at this early stage, children will be more responsive to being told about the risks of drug use.


Make sure you tell your children about the risks. Accurate information and support will help them decide what to do. It does not guarantee non-use but will increase the chance of an informed choice.


There are many tell tale signs, which include a young person who is panicky, tense or drowsy, complaining of sickness, has impaired concentration, lack of energy, depression, skin problems or aggression.


There may be a change in relationships with family and friends, a change in behaviour, or a change in performance at school.


Other signs can involve changes in a financial situation and personal possessions ‘disappearing’ and being sold.


In general terms if your child’s appearance, behaviour or financial situation changes dramatically you should include drug and alcohol use in your list of “I wonder if…” questions.



Observe and talk to your child if you are worried.

 In an emergency contact an ambulance immediately.  

 If your child is not in immediate danger talk with them about their drug use at another time when they are not using.

 Use every opportunity to discuss drug use, for example, when drugs are mentioned in a television programme. 

 Ensure that you are informed about drug use and the effects of different types of drugs.


The links below will take you to services and agencies which offer help and support to families who are worried about or who are affected by drug or alcohol problems.

offers Psychological Services Family Support, alternative and complimentary therapies to adults and young people in relation to substance misuse.
offers counselling  for individuals and family members affected by alcohol problems.
offers a Fife-wide rehabilitation service to individuals with substance misuse issues via one to one, group and volunteer support.








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