The Drugs Talk

Girl holding a cigarette paper with drugs.

University students are heading home, the school holidays are on the horizon and the party and festival season is warming up, which for parents of teenagers and young adults serves as a pertinent reminder that it is time to reiterate a few health and safety messages, not least with regard to drugs.

The most recent survey by the European Monitoring Centre for drugs and drug addiction revealed that of those young adults in the UK confirming personal drug usage, the 16-24 year old age group were shown to be the most prevalent users.  Cannabis, cocaine, MDMA and amphetamines are the drugs of choice, with just 15 being the average age cited for first time usage of cannabis.

As alarming as these statistics may be it is an optimistic parent indeed that believes their child is immune.  However confident we may be of our own offspring, the opinions and behaviour of others around them is beyond our control.

Within their secondary schooling years many teenagers will come across people either talking about or already using drugs.  In 2016 a report published by NHS Digital showed that a staggering 24% of 11-15 year olds interviewed in secondary schools in England had taken drugs at some time.

Add to this the fact that they will become more social, attending parties and then festivals and the more likely it is that they will be exposed to it first-hand and with that comes the bete noire of parents worldwide – “peer pressure” to “give it a go”.

Experimentation is a fact of life.  When raising our children how many times as parents do we say “How do you know you don’t like it (or you can’t do it) unless you try it?” The answer of course is all the time.

During the early years we introduce our children to new things every day.  As they grow up and move through the tween years and into their teens, we encourage them to aim higher, to push their personal boundaries and to step outside their comfort zone – except of course when faced with drugs.

Teen drug abuse is dangerous. The teenage brain is precious.  It is still developing up until the age of 25 and the use of drugs before this time can have serious long term behavioural and cognitive effects.

With this clean generation of teenagers and their emphasis on physical fitness and healthy eating and thereby moderate drinking and no smoking, it’s easy to overlook the threat of drugs.  The unfortunate truth is that drugs are a very real issue just because they are so commonplace.

My eldest has been back from University for just one week and has already clocked up a couple of music festivals where according to him the amount of people plugging drugs were difficult to avoid.  It takes steely conviction to keep saying “No thanks.” but that is exactly what they need to do.

As parents we all want to be confident that our teen has their head screwed on straight and won’t be the one swayed by the actions and pressure of others, but it is a worry and with drugs so readily available, it is certainly not the time as a parent to be complacent.  More than ever we need to be more vigilant.

Neither is it a time to sugar coat the facts.  It is best to be upfront about the dangers, to keep having meaningful and ongoing conversations and banging the eternal parental drum against using drugs.  After all we are arguably the biggest influence in their lives .

Talking To Teens About Drugs


Editors Note: Organisations offering information and advice on having “The Drugs Talk”


Family Lives 






  1. July 20, 2018 / 10:15 am

    It is such a tricky one and as always your posts get me thinking! We live in New Zealand and according to my 17-year-old son, everyone at 15 has had their first drink… Scarey stuff really. Drugs not so much apparently, but drink, yes. It seems that if you aren’t out of your face at a party then you are not cool. I’m just hoping to god that all our good parenting and lecturing stands by them and they do everything in moderation. Either that or I’ll just keep travelling with them and never let them out of my sight!
    Great post Jo! I love your ‘fabulous females’ slot, such a wonderful idea xx

    • Jo
      July 31, 2018 / 12:12 am

      Oh Liz the problems are the same worldwide which is why there is such a need for us teen parents to share our thoughts. So lovely to hear from you as always and I am guessing you are close to going home now? How weird that must be, but you have the best memories. Glad you like the Fab Females series – I was inspired whilst in hospital – shortly after reading your fab post on the pooh nightmare! Say no more. Are you up for being featured??? It seems only right somehow! x

  2. June 18, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    I really don’t know what my kids would do, I sometimes think i know them really well and then they pop up with corker statements that leave me speechless. It is concering that the percentage of high school kids who have tried drugs is so high, I have never seen drugs been peddled and would have no idea where to even source them. I just hope and pray that my kids would come and talk to me if they ever run into trouble and like you say, it’s so important to keep up positive dialogue with them and be vigilant #tweensteensbeyond

  3. June 18, 2018 / 5:14 pm

    I’d have no idea where to go to get drugs from, yet when I was a teen they were freely available in bars, clubs and street corners. I know teens get targeted by dealers, especially in affluent areas and in particular kids who go to private schools as they’re seen to have more money to spend. #tweenteensbeyond

  4. June 18, 2018 / 2:02 pm

    It is interesting isn’t it that this generation of teens have lower alcohol consumption, lower rates of teen pregnancy and yet drug use is still a problem. I feel very out of my depth here and really need to be more familiar with the terminology at least. I agree Jo that parents still have a big role to play here and thank you for the timely reminder. xx #TweensTeensBeyond

  5. June 17, 2018 / 10:47 pm

    This is so important!! I am surprised by the 11-15 year olds statistic!!! I’d like to think we’ve discussed drugs lots in our house and that I’m always open to talking more if they need to #tweensteensbeyond

  6. June 15, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    Maybe it’s being on the parental, rather than child, side of things but there seem more things to worry about these days (or it could just be that my age is showing). Youngest’s secondary school gave some quite horrifying talks on drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, but not every teenager takes what they hear in school on board. Definitely a tricky subject #tweensteensbeyond

  7. June 13, 2018 / 11:01 am

    Coincidentally this has been part of the Science lesson this week for Year 7 here. I am new to this particular party as it’s first time out of the traps for us. However, I am learning very fast. The knowledge increases dramatically between Year 6 and 7. I am currently very much on the side of awareness and getting these things out in the open with our kids. There is no getting away from it and I have close friends who have teens that have had problems. Drugs don’t discriminate do they. In the same way that we are never too far from a rat in London, we are equally closer to a drug dealer. Not that there is much to call between the two. It’s a jolt for sure. Great read and such an important subject.

  8. June 12, 2018 / 7:06 pm

    This is one of the hardest facets of parenting I think. Addressing drugs and hoping the kids listen and abstain. I’m curious if marijuana is moving towards legalization like it is here in each state? It is up to each individual state here, and I’m sad to say most people don’t think it is bad to legalize it recreationally. I think it is, though.

  9. Sophie
    June 12, 2018 / 6:30 pm

    This is brilliant, Jo. Both mine kids have come across drugs. In fact, it’s fair to say that Bath is full of drugs. It’s quite an affluent city and with that comes drugs. My son who is 16, has come across everything except heroin and crack….I know right? It’s bloody scary. Luckily, he is very into his sport and health and I just hope that keeps him on the straight and narrow. None of his friendship group seem to be interested either. All we can do is keep talking to our children and hope that they make good choices. Xx

  10. June 12, 2018 / 12:27 pm

    Such a difficult conversation, but one it’s so important to get as right as you can … Good luck to us all as we have it. And the drink one …

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