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Worried about your child? Warning signs and ways to help


It’s good to keep an eye out for signs that your child may be drinking. It might be easier to ignore the fact that your teen is drinking, or even laugh it off, especially if it doesn’t seem to be causing them any problems. But drinking is risky, especially for teens.

Warning signs that your child may be drinking

    • Alcohol disappearing from the house or being watered down or finding alcohol in their room
    • Asking to be dropped off someone other than the social venue and making their own way there with friends
    • Wanting to sleep over with friends after parties or wanting to make their own way home from social events
    • Taking a rucksack or other bag to house parties 
  • Asking for extra money 
  • A change in their friendship group
  • Not looking after their personal appearance
  • Lack of energy
  • Problems at school
  • Dropping other interests and hobbies
  • Being more moody or argumentative than usual

When I have been drinking it is easy to hide it from my parents when I come home.”¹

Of course, many of these signs are part of normal teenage behaviour. But being aware of them can help you to spot a problem early on. 

If you have concerns or you know they are drinking, use it as an opportunity to have a chat about alcohol.

Read more: 

What to do if your child is drinking, or if they come home drunk

How to talk to your child about alcohol

Guide to setting rules

For more information on young people, alcohol and real-life accounts, you might like to read Sharing experiences and suggestions around alcohol and substance abuse. A guide for parents.pdf (size 1.2 MB) by Brian Wall

¹ 6th Year student quoted in Sharing Experiences And Suggestions Around Alcohol & Substance Abuse A Collaborative Guide For Parents, 2nd Edition, 2011. Brian Wall.

Brian Wall. Sharing experiences and suggestions around alcohol and substance abuse. A guide for parents. 4th Edition, 2017.
(2013) NYCI. Support manual for dealing with substance use issues in an out of school setting. National Youth Council of Ireland, Dublin

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