Worried about your child or someone you look after?

If you are worried about your child or someone you look after it can be hard to know what to do, or if you are doing the right thing, but there are specialist services here to help.

There is many reasons that young people use drugs or alcohol; it might just be for fun, to experiment, to cope with a difficult situation or because their friends are doing. Insight can help you explore some of these reasons and provide you with the tools to support them. There are answers to some frequently asked questions which may help below.

Download this Emergency Factsheet to find out what to do if someone has overdosed, appears to be unconscious or has had a bad reaction to any drug.

If someone is in immediate danger dial 999

How do I know if they are misusing drugs or alcohol?
There are many different types of drugs and they affect people in different ways, so it can be hard to tell.
Some common signs may include:

  • Unpredictable behaviour
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • Impatient and anxious behaviour
  • Slow or slurred speech
  • Excessive energy
  • Talking for long periods of time without a particular subject
  • Abnormal pupils (very large or very small)
  • Lack of motivation
  • Smelling of alcohol

However, do remember that there are other things that can cause these changes in a person, so don’t always assume that these signs mean they are misusing substances. Items associated with alcohol and drug use, such as empty drink bottles, syringes, bent spoons, cigarettes with the tobacco removed, little plastic bags or scraps of cling film (used to store the drugs) can be another sign that someone might be misusing drugs.

What are the signs of cannabis use?
  • Red bloodshot eyes
  • Smelly clothes
  • Increased cravings for snacks
  • Laughing fits
  • Laid back or slow responses

The following signs might mean that someone is smoking large amounts of cannabis. If you think this might be the case you should contact us for advice and speak to the young person about your concerns.

  • Lack of focus
  • Over snacking 
  • Paranoia 
  • Isolated (staying in their room a lot)
  • Stopping doing their usual activities 

You can read more about the affects of cannabis on our factsheet. 

Are my feelings about this normal?
Family members or friends of people who misuse drugs or alcohol may experience a wide range of emotions. These can include anger, frustration and helplessness. The person taking drugs or drinking alcohol can become detached, withdrawn or aggressive which can be very upsetting for everyone around them.

People cope with these emotions in their own way. Remember we can support you and provide more information on how to cope.


Download the Parents Voice app which provides support for parents and carers. Providing a way to better understand how to spot the signs of risky behaviour, before they escalate into long term issues.