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As they grow, every young person will make decisions about whether to use alcohol or other drugs.

Whether you're a parent, caregiver, relative or friend, it can be challenging to know how to talk to rangatahi about drugs. But letting them know that they can talk to you is important.

It's common for young people to experiment, and for most this doesn't lead to harm.

Many young people will choose to try drugs, some will get into difficulties because of it, and a few will develop long term problems. 

To help you navigate these tricky conversations, check out the two videos below on preparing young people for a world where drugs exist and responding to an incident involving alcohol or other drugs.

Preparing young people for a world where drugs exist

Key tips

  • How you tackle the chat will depend on the specific circumstances of your young person
  • Consider factors such as their age and if they have already tried drugs, the type of drug and the amount they are using.
  • Approach these discussions in an open-minded and supportive way - this will establish a strong foundation for revisiting talks about alcohol and other drugs in the future.
  • Listen to what your rangatahi has to say.

Responding to an incident involving alcohol or other drugs

Key tips

  • Ask open questions then listen.
  • Avoid interrupting or having a strong reaction.
  • Let your rangatahi know you care about them.
  • Set clear expectations with realistic consequences if these are broken.
  • Have a plan for how the conversation will go.

Try our conversation planner and Did You Know video series

To help prepare you to have a supportive conversation, try out our conversation planner. It can help you think through how, when and where.

Our Did You Know video series makes it easy for young people to get the key facts about different substances, and can help to deepen your conversation. Keep in mind that the conversation itself is more important than a particular outcome.

View the Did You Know series

Try the conversation planner

Where to get more help

If you need help supporting a young person who's having issues, contact one of the services below. 

The Alcohol Drug Helpline

The Alcohol Drug Helpline supports anyone who is concerned about their own or someone else’s drug use. They are open 24/7. Their service is confidential and is completely free.

  • Call them at 0800 787 797.
  • Text them at 8681.
  • Live chat on their website.
  • Call their Māori Line at 0800 787 798 for advice and referrals to kaupapa Māori services.
  • Call their Pasifika Line at 0800 787 799 for advice and referrals to services developed for Pacific people.
  • Call their Youth Line at 0800 787 984 for advice and referral to services for young people.

Asian Family Services

Asian Family Services offer support that is designed specifically for Asian people. The counsellors, social workers, and other support staff understand Asian culture and the challenges Asian people can face living in New Zealand. They are qualified and able to speak many different languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Hindi, etc.).

Call (0800 862 342) or email help@asianfamilyservices.nz to book an appointment.

Family Drug Support

Visit the Family Drug Support website or call 0800 337 877. They provide one-to-one counselling for family/whānau members using the 5-Step Method. They are available for anyone in New Zealand.

Brave Hearts

Call Brave Hearts on 0508 272 834 for support. They have online and in-person meetings and can have someone run a family meeting for you in person, on the phone, or online. You can also visit their website to see stories from people in similar situations.