Information for parents

Many parents have limited knowledge about volatile substance use (VSU). Therefore, the provision of information about volatile substances and other relevant information that addresses parents’ concerns is helpful.

Information for parents needs to be balanced and accurate. Simple, basic facts are more effective than complex, detailed information that may overwhelm and panic some parents. It should also include information about reducing harms that some parents may choose to share with their young person. However, some parents may be challenged by the concept of harm reduction and this needs to be acknowledged and respected.

Some important harm reduction information to cover with parents may include:

  • the health effects of volatile substances
  • basic first aid for an intoxicated person (e.g. assessing danger to the person and others, letting the person rest in a quiet safe place with fresh air, making sure the person can breathe, when to call emergency services)
  • how to monitor an intoxicated person during and after recovery (e.g. managing symptoms, what to look for, making sure the person eats and drinks, when to call emergency services)
  • who to contact if the situation is dangerous (i.e. the people in community who are responsible for safety such as police and other authorised people)
  • services that can help the person recover (e.g. counselling services, residential rehabilitation facilities, youth and activity programs).

(National Health and Medical Research Council, 2011).

Further harm reduction information can be found at the Harms page of this website.

Contacts and support

Information about the Parent and Family Drug Support Line (PFDSL) should be made available to all parents. PFDSL provides a free 24-hour, confidential telephone counselling, information and support service for parents and families concerned about alcohol and other drug use. Callers can speak with a professional counsellor, and/or a parent peer volunteer who has experience living with a child with alcohol or other drug issues.

PFDSL can provide a copy of the booklet Inhalant use: A guide for parents & families which contains information for parents about VSU and/or a copy of their Parent and Family Information and Support Pack. For Aboriginal parents and families, please also see the Strong Spirit Strong Mind Sniffing and chroming: A guide for parents and carers worried about their children booklet.

Parents can also be a driving force behind community action and structural change. Where appropriate, provide parents with information about organisations that engage with and empower families to respond to identified alcohol and other drug issues within their community. Visit the Local Drug Action Groups website as a starting point.