We care, for the better.
A place for families, because you don't have to use drugs to be affected by them.
- How do I know if they're using drugs?
- Why do they use drugs/alcohol?
- Is it my fault?
- How can I cope with their behaviour?
- Understanding the stages of addiction and recovery
- Where do I get the help I need?
- Getting support for your loved one
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What should I do?
Many people worry that their child, partner or other family member might be using drugs. Find out some common signs of drug use here
How do I know if they’re using drugs?
As there are many different types of drug, people often feel they don’t know enough about them and how they affect users. You can see our drug factfile for information on drugs and drug paraphernalia. However, there are some general types of behaviour that might indicate drug use:
- Erratic behaviour
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Restlessness and fidgeting
- Slow or slurred speech
- Extreme hyperactivity and talking for long periods of time about nothing in particular
- Total inactivity - not wanting to move or do anything at all
- Enlarged or very small pupils (this can change depending on what drug is taken)
Remember that there may be other reasons for different behaviours which are not to do with drug use - many would just associate erratic behaviour with a normal teenager, for example.
Other signs of drug use include drug paraphernalia - equipment that people use to take drugs in different ways. These are discussed in more detail in our drug factfile, but general signs include:
- Hand-rolled cigarettes with filters made from rolled-up card (cannabis)
- Rolled up banknotes or paper (for snorting drugs)
- Folded or burnt tin foil and/or spoons, syringes and needles (heroin)
- Small pieces of cling-film or creased card, or resealable bags - these can all be used to store drugs
- Pipes, plastic bottles or cans which have been converted into pipes e.g. have holes in or have been cut in half, or combined with foil or plastic bags
It is sometimes difficult to ‘prove’ your loved one is using drugs - they may hide it or worry about the consequences of telling you. You may have to ask them directly, but such a conversation needs to be conducted carefully. Try not to be judgemental or accusatory, and before you tackle the subject:
- Inform yourself about drugs, their effects and how to talk about them - you can use our drug factfile
- Consider your motives and what it means to you if they are using drugs - are you worried about their safety? How it is affecting their behaviour or lifestyle? How is it affecting your health, wellbeing and safety?
- Try to adopt an attitude of caring curiosity when having a conversation about drugs, especially if you are discussing it for the first time.
- Adfam published with The Angelus Foundation a resouce which may be useful - Talking to your children about legal highs and club drugs - A parent's handbook (pdf)