This section covers questions that we are frequently asked about drug use. We hope you find it helpful. If you have a question which is not answered here, please contact us and we will be happy to respond directly and update our list​.

My family member is using drugs/alcohol. What can I do?

Having a family member who has a problem with drugs or alcohol can have a huge emotional impact on the whole family. It can be very difficult to cope in these situations. Often the person using the drug or alcohol has to want to stop using it themselves and may not accept 'common sense' advice from a concerned family member or friend.

Some people find it helpful to talk about these issues to someone outside the family. You can contact us via our helpline, by e-mailing us or by dropping in to see us. It can also be helpful to join a family support group, much like the one we have at DA. This can give you the opportunity to meet others who are going through or have been through similar experiences and you can discuss your concerns or share ideas with them.

Someone I know recently experienced a heroin overdose. How can I help if this happens again?

Along with other drug treatment services, we can provide you with training on naloxone administration here at DA. Naloxone is a drug that temporarily reverses the effect of an opiate overdose and it can save lives.

Once you have been trained in basic life support and naloxone administration you can obtain a naloxone pack from a pharmacy. (Your trainer can provide you with a list of pharmacies that dispense naloxone.) You can then keep this pack with you or somewhere appropriate so that you can use it to save a life if you are confronted with an overdose situation again. Remember, always dial 999 for an ambulance if you suspect an overdose.

My son is receiving drugs education at school.  How do I talk to him about it?

As teenagers get older it can seem that their world is a million miles away from yours. Before you talk to your child about drugs, make sure you have accurate, up-to-date information about different types of drugs and their effects. You can look at our A-Z guide for some help. Remember that if your son is already having drugs education at school he will be used to having these discussions with adults. Set aside time to have the conversation or use an opportunity when you are with him or hear something on the TV or radio. Try not to be confrontational; take a relaxed approach and be ready to answer any questions your child might have. If you can’t answer the question, be honest; there is nothing worse than trying to bluff your way through an answer! There are a number of websites that have information that teens can relate to or you could research the answer on the websites together. As well as our website, you can find additional information on www.talktofrank.com  http://knowthescore.info  and www.crew2000.org.uk

For a step-by-step guide to discussing drugs with your children, go to: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/drugs/Pages/Drugsandyourkids.aspx

How can I tell if my family member is using drugs?

There are many different kinds of drugs that each have a different impact on a person’s physical and mental presentation. Whilst there are signs that can point towards drug and/or alcohol use, it is important not to jump to conclusions and be mindful that other things could be causing these changes. It is usually quite difficult to ‘prove’ drug or alcohol use when a family member hasn’t told you that they have been using.  If you have concerns that your family member may be using drugs, it is best to make sure you have accurate, up-to-date information about different types of drugs and their effects and find time to discuss this with them in a non-threatening way. For more advice see the Try to/Try not to tips in the Advice now section of this website.

Is it my fault that my family member is using drugs?

Many family members, especially parents, ask themselves if they are to blame for a person's drug and/or alcohol use. They can experience a lot of guilt and regret about things that have happened in the past. It is important to remember that people are responsible for their own life choices, including the decision whether or not to try drugs and/or drink alcohol. This also goes hand in hand with who can make the decision to stop.

Why is my child using drugs?

There is no one reason why people use drugs and the reasons differ significantly from person to person. Both personal and social factors can impact on a person using drugs, as can peer pressure and wanting to ‘fit in’. Try to talk openly to your child and help build their confidence to limit the pressure they feel and ensure they are able to talk to you about their worries and concerns. For more advice see the Try to/Try not to tips in the Advice now section of this website.

My daughter is pregnant.  What effect will her drug use have on her unborn baby?

Unfortunately there is no definitive answer to this question and the impact of drug use in pregnancy can differ significantly from woman to woman. The key factor here is to encourage your daughter to get her pregnancy confirmed and to seek ante-natal care as soon as possible. This will help her to stabilise her drug use and access substitute medication such as methadone, if needed, to help her have the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Some babies may experience withdrawal symptoms (neonatal abstinence syndrome) after they are born and there are a number of different ways this can be treated. Mild withdrawal symptoms can be managed with non-medical interventions such as swaddling and breastfeeding. More severe withdrawal symptoms may need to be treated in the neonatal unit.

If you are concerned about your daughter's drug use then try to speak to her in a non-judgemental way. Let her know why you are concerned and what support is available during and following pregnancy. You can call the DA helpline on 01224 594700 for more information.

My daughter is pregnant.  What effect will her alcohol use have on her unborn baby?

Unfortunately there is no definitive answer to this question and the impact of alcohol in pregnancy can differ significantly from woman to woman. What we do know is that alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Both of these conditions are irreversible, untreatable and come with lifelong implications. Because there is no proven safe level for alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the only risk-free approach is to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy, when trying to conceive and when breastfeeding. If the woman is already pregnant, it is never too late to stop drinking. 

 If you are concerned about someone’s alcohol use in pregnancy, encourage them to seek medical help. Suddenly stopping alcohol use can have very serious consequences for both the mother and the child. 

I want to help my partner, but how do I go about it?

The first thing to find out from your partner is what they want to change about their drug or alcohol use. Your partner may want to stop completely or they may want to cut down. This can be difficult if what they want to change about their use is different to what you want. Remember, any changes your partner makes to their use, for example using in a more planned or safe way, is better than continuing as they have been before. It is also important to remember that the two of you may have very different thoughts about how long the changes may take.

It will be easier for you to discuss your partner’s drug or alcohol use if you have accurate, up-to-date information about different types of drugs and alcohol and their effects. You can also help your partner by keeping an open mind about how the changes to their use might materialise and the timescales involved. You may also find it useful to come to the DA Family and Friends Support Group where you can speak to people and listen to the experiences of others.

My child has been using drugs for years. What can I do?

Dealing with a child who uses drugs, regardless of whether they still live with you or are adults with their own family, can be an emotional rollercoaster. Even with support and treatment, it may take several attempts before your child successfully breaks away from their drug use. The process of withdrawal, treatment and recovery can be a very challenging time and even those who wish to stop can find it difficult to make the initial steps towards recovery. 

Remember that your son or daughter must WANT to stop using drugs first. If they are not at this stage, there are still services that can help you and your child. You may find it useful to access services that would give you accurate information and an opportunity to voice your feelings and see how others in a similar situation are coping.