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Drugs, alcohol, smoking and gambling

You might be worried about your teen doing something risky. You can help them by letting them know the risks and how to stay safe.


Close Up Of Teenage Group Drinking Alcohol TogetherIt's very likely that your child will be offered alcohol at some point.

  • Help them think what they would do in that situation.
  • Let them know there’s a link between alcohol, anti-social behaviour and sexual activity and how drinking in moderation will help keep them safe.
  • Make sure they know the risk of drinks being spiked and how to keep themselves and friends safe.
  • Set boundaries at home and for times your teenager is out with friends, including a curfew and their plans for getting home.
  • Make sure your child knows what to do if they or a friend become unwell or feel they are in danger.


Your child is less likely to try drugs than alcohol but it is still worth talking to them from a young age about their use and the risks associated with them.

Have a calm and honest conversation with your child, if you’re worried they might be using drugs. Talk to Frank has a list of some of the signs you might notice if your teen is using drugs.


Girl smoke near rails and abandon railroad stationSmoking is becoming less common over time with less and less young people taking up the habit, but it’s still one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK. Every year around 192,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses.

It can be hard for teens to stand up to peer pressure and say no to their friends but not starting to smoke is one of the best decisions your teen could make for their health and wallet throughout their lives. Two thirds of smokers start smoking before they reach 18 so this is the time to help your teen avoid smoking by never trying cigarettes.

If you think your teen maybe smoking, understanding what’s behind your teen’s behaviour can help you respond in a way that helps them manage it. Teenagers' brains are still developing and they get addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes much faster than adults do. They find nicotine more rewarding, underestimate the risks of smoking, and are more influenced by smoking behaviour around them. Remind them of all the reasons to quit and help them access support.

If you smoke, there’s the option to quit together. Children of parents who smoke are four times more likely to smoke themselves, so quitting will benefit the whole family’s health.

  • The benefits of quitting start almost immediately. Cigarettes are expensive, so they will be saving money and they’ll start to feel healthier.
  • Get help from the experts - One You Kent. No lectures, just professional support and help when you need it most, free from the NHS. You are four times more likely to quit with support.

For further information check out the under 18's guide to quitting smoking.

Should I be worried about vaping?

Although vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco, it’s still important to discourage young people from experimenting with them.

  • Vaping is not risk-free and there is a lot we still don’t know about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes.
  • Most vapes contain nicotine, which is addictive.
  • You must be 18 or over to use or purchase e-cigarettes or e-liquids.


Teenage Boy Addicted To Video Gaming At HomeGambling is becoming more common in children and young people.

BigDeal is a place for young people to find information and support related to gambling, either for themselves or for someone they care about. They offer support to parents and training to those who work with young people. They also offer a Young People's Service for 11 to 18-year-olds who are experiencing harm because of gambling or gaming.

Useful resources