Useful Stuff for Adults

As adults it is our role to understand the developmental stage young people are in- they will experiment, they will push boundaries, they often do think they know best…and it is our role to help them get through this stage and participate in these and other important aspects of identity formation and self-discovery whilst doing our best to protect them from possible long-term harms. With this in mind, the topic of substance will elicit a lot of different views and beliefs about where this fits into a young person's journey of development.

Think of it this way:

  • Every young person will decide whether or not to use substances and most will revisit this decision many times.
  • Many young people will try substances.
  • Some young people will use substances regularly, with some short-term harms.
  • A Few young people will use substances regularly, and potentially develop long terms patterns and associated harms.


If you are concerned that your young person may be using these are some possible signs to look out for:

  • Having bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils; using eye drops to try to mask these signs.
  • Skipping class; declining grades; suddenly getting into trouble at school.
  • Missing money, valuables, or prescriptions.
  • Acting uncharacteristically isolated, withdrawn, angry, or depressed.
  • Dropping one group of friends for another; being secretive about the new peer group.
  • Loss of interest in old hobbies; lying about new interests and activities.
  • Demanding more privacy; locking doors; avoiding eye contact; sneaking around.

Unfortunately this can describe most adolescent's right? This can make it tricky so be careful not to jump to conclusions…


If you are worried about your young person's substance use here are some tips:

  • Lay down rules and consequences: Your teen should understand that using drugs comes can come with specific consequences. But don't make hollow threats or set rules that you cannot enforce. If you have a partner make sure they agree with the rules and are prepared to enforce them.
  • Talk with your teen about their activities: Talk with your teen about where they are going, who they are going to be with and what they are doing to stay safe.
  • Encourage other interests and social activities: Expose your teen to healthy hobbies and activities, such as team sports or interest clubs.
  • Talk to your child about underlying issues: Drug use can be the result of other problems. Is there underlying issues and while they may not want support for their substance use (because they think it helps them), they might be willing to get support for their mood, grief or other issue/s.
  • Get Help: Teens often push against their parents boundaries but if they hear the same information from a different adult, they may be more inclined to listen. Try a sports coach, family doctor, or youth AOD worker. You can refer or contact SORTED by visiting our Contact SORTED page.

When thinking about how you talk with your young person and what type of message you will want to give them it is important to be non-judgemental, try to keep lines of communication open and emphasise staying safe for them and their mates.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page for some useful questions parents have for SORTED or see our useful explanation about the Cycle of Change and how this relates to your young person.

For any other questions contact us and we will be happy to help.

Last updated: August 29, 2018