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Drugs and alcohol

Alcohol advice
Drugs

Alcohol advice

Guidance from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) advises parents and children that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. If children drink alcohol, it should not be until they are at least 15 years old, and even then it is much healthier to delay their introduction to drinking until they are older.

It’s illegal to:

  • give alcohol to children under five
  • buy alcohol on behalf of anyone under the age of 18

Government guidance

Chief Medical Officers provide impartial health advice to the government and the public, and have provided the following guidance to help parents making decisions about their children and alcohol:

1. Drinking alcohol can damage a child's health, even if they’re 15 or older.

2. If 15 to 17 year olds drink alcohol, it should be rarely. They should always be supervised by a parent or carer.

3. Children and Younger people are even more vulnerable and susceptible to the detrimental and damaging effects of alcohol than adults, so if 15 to 17 year olds are drinking alcohol, it is even more important that they are aware of the risks to health and they should never exceed the recommended adult weekly limits. One unit of alcohol is about half a pint of beer or ordinary lager or a single measure of spirits (25ml).

4. If your child intends to - and is determined to - drink alcohol, using positive practices such as incentives, setting limits, agreeing on specific boundaries and offering advice can help.

What you can do

Talk to your child about the dangers of alcohol before they start drinking. The Health A-Z section of the NHS website has further information about drinking and alcohol misuse.

Almost half of young people who drink alcohol say they got it from their parents, either with or without permission. If your child is under 18 and drinking alcohol in your home or getting alcohol from your home, you’re responsible for making sure they’re safe.

If your child is drinking

If your child is drinking alcohol, or intends to, you should talk to them about it.

Make it clear that you disapprove. Research indicates that children are less likely to drink alcohol when their parents show that they don’t agree with it.

Don't shout at your child. This will make them defensive and could make the situation worse. Instead, stay calm and firm.

Make it clear that you’re there for them if they need you, and answer any questions they have.

Talk to your child about how alcohol affects judgement. Drinking too much could lead them to doing something they regret, such as having unprotected sex, getting into fights or drink driving.

Warn your child about the dangers of drink spiking and how to avoid it.

Source: NHS website

Helpful services

Response - Tel: 0151 666 4123
Response is a free and confidential service for young people between the ages of 13 & 19. Referrals will be accepted from health and social care professionals, a family member, or the young person.

Talk to Frank - Tel: 0800 77 66 00
For friendly and confidential advice about drugs, you can call at any time of the day or night.

Family Lives - Tel: 0808 800 2222
Family Lives is a national charity that works for, and with, parents. Family Lives works to offer help and support through an innovative range of free, flexible, responsive services - shaped by parents for parents. 

Drug advice

Many parents worry about their child becoming involved with drugs. They feel that they don't know enough about drugs to prevent their child from coming to harm.

The truth is that you cannot prevent your child from coming into contact with drugs. However, your influence can mean they make the right choice if they do – by making sure you know just as much as they do about drugs and talking openly and honestly about the risks.

Is your child using drugs?

Possible signs of drug use can include changes in appearance, friends, interests, eating and sleeping habits, moods and openness. But these signs are often a natural part of growing up. A young person who is not using drugs could show the same changes.

Finding out more

When you talk to your child:

  • try to do it when you are calm
  • get someone to help you — it helps to have someone else in the room who your child likes and respects
  • avoid asking 'why?' — it will put them on the defensive
  • it's better to know the truth — there's no evidence that talking about drugs leads to drug use
  • give the child space
  • assumptions can be dangerous — let them explain in their own words what's going on for them, and treat what they say seriously
  • set clear limits
  • remember the three Rs: reassure, reassure, reassure.

If your child does have a drug problem it is important for them to know that you will be there for them, from answering simple questions to helping them through difficult times. It's worth telling them that you trust them, but at the same time feel free to show disappointment if this trust is broken.

Helpful services

Response - Tel: 0151 666 4123

Response is a free and confidential service for young people between the ages of 13 & 19. Referrals will be accepted from health and social care professionals, a family member or the young person.

Talk to Frank – Tel: 0800 77 66 00

For friendly and confidential advice about drugs, you can call at any time of the day or night. Their leaflet 'Drugs - does your child know more than you?', provides up-to-date information for parents and carers on the legal and health-related implications of drug abuse. The leaflet also includes an ABC of drugs and advice on how to approach the subject with your child.

Family Lives - Tel: 0808 800 2222

Family Lives is a national charity that works for, and with, parents. Family Lives works to offer help and support through an innovative range of free, flexible, responsive services - shaped by parents for parents.

Wirral Ways to Recovery – Tel: 0151 556 1335

Staff will be able to speak to and advise parents about their child’s drug use.

Early intervention

It is recognised that early interventions stop substance misuse escalating; this is especially true with vulnerable young people. Young people who are referred to services are screened for substance misuse concerns, and are then referred to specialist workers within the team who will deliver appropriate interventions. These workers also link up with relevant agencies to ensure that the young person is supported in accessing wider support or more specialist treatment.

Working with young people

Specialist young people substance misuse treatment is available in Wirral. This service works with under 19s who are misusing drugs and / or alcohol and require more specialist treatment. For more information, please contact Response on 0151 666 4123.

It is vital that all young people have access to a range of drug and alcohol misuse interventions Wirral-wide; this ranges from information sessions at youth clubs, advice and information, assessment and specialist treatment.