Listed below are some steps that parents can take to help set limits in their household concerning drug and alcohol use:

  • Set a good example: Do not abuse alcohol or drugs. Do not allow friends or relatives who abuse drugs or alcohol into your home.
  • Establish good communication with your children about drugs and alcohol.
  • Set limits. Let your children know exactly what is and is not acceptable to you.
  • Do not ignore the problem.
  • Teach your children that drugs are dangerous and expensive.
  • Know the signs of drug abuse; be willing to recognize and acknowledge them.
  • Be vigilant.
  • Prepare children to make hard decisions. Teach them to say no.
  • Let your children know that they can come to you when frightened, apprehensive or in need of help.

Trouble Signs

The following may indicate the presence of a substance abuse problem:

  • Change in behavior, attitude, opinions, friends or drug use
  • Mood swings
  • Defensiveness
  • Drop in grades; unusual school problems
  • Drops old friends and adopts new ones
  • Doesn't want you to meet new friends
  • Unexplained increase or decrease in finances
  • Stealing or borrowing money frequently
  • Spends time in unusual places (storage room, basement, garage, etc.) 
  • Lack of energy or endurance
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Drastic change in appearance

If the Worst Happens

Investigate and confront. Maintain or reopen communications. Focus on specific, suspicious behavior. Do not confront your children while you are angry or while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Do not jump to conclusions; what you suspect may not be fact. Get your family into counseling or therapy. For referrals, call the county health department or other local public agency.

Learn more about mental health and substance abuse and what resources are available from the NC Department of Health and Human Services.