Accessibility Page Navigation
Style sheets must be enabled to view this page as it was intended.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

The Drug Conversation: How to talk to your child about drugs

Owen Bowden-Jones

Price: £12.99

Members' discount available

Published: May 2016

Format: Paperback

Number of pages: 180

ISBN: 9781909726574

The Drug Conversation: How to talk to your child about drugs

"Should I drug test my child?" 

 "I’ve just found drugs in their room, what do I do now?"

The Drug Conversation is a guide for parents about how to raise the thorny issue of drugs with their children. It will help you begin a useful conversation about drugs with your child.

The book provides information on the different types of psychoactive drugs available, their attractions and harms, how they work in the brain, and who uses them and why. It covers issues such as how to detect drug use, drug testing, synthetic drugs (‘legal highs’), accessing help, effective treatments and what to expect from professional medical services.

The Drug Conversation also gives practical advice on how to prepare for and have a conversation about drugs with your child – including examples of actual conversations between parents and children. Case studies from the author’s own clinical practice are used to illustrate the main points.

All parents will need this book at some stage. It will help you to feel properly informed about drugs, more confident in talking to your child, more able to keep drug-related problems from developing and better equipped to tackle problems if they do arise.

Readership: All parents (especially those of teenage and pre-teen children).

About the author:
Dr Owen Bowden-Jones - Consultant Psychiatrist and Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College, London; and Clinical Adviser at the Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco Division of Public Health England.  A father himself, Owen firmly believes all parents need reliable information to support an effective conversation about drugs.  More about the author  (Author's website)

Owen appeared on the BBC's 'Victoria Derbyshire' show on 27 May 2016: watch a clip.

"This simple, excellent book is aimed at parents who want to make sure their children have the best possible information about drugs before they are exposed to them, as well as parents of children who are already using drugs. The relevant facts are concisely distilled, including types of drugs (prescription as well as street) and detecting drug use, plus guidelines on how to start talking. ...I recommend you read The Drug Conversation."
- You Magazine (Mail on Sunday)


"Overall, this is a really useful, easy to read and practical handbook for parents. ...Each chapter can be read individually and therefore does not overwhelm the reader. ...This book 'does what it says on the tin' – support you in having the drug conversation with your child."
- Nursing Times


“I welcome this book.  It is an excellent resource for parents and an invaluable book for GPs and their patients.”

- Dr Clare Gerada, GP and Past-President of the Royal College of General Practitioners


“Like any parent, I worry about how I can support my children in what can be a frightening world. Bowden-Jones's book lucidly and brilliantly sets out the truth about drugs and should be required reading for anyone who cares about our children's future - in other words, all of us.”

- Rachel Kelly

Writer, Journalist & Mental Health Campaigner. Author of Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps to Happiness (Short Books, Nov 2015)


“Owen’s book is amazingly clear with the brain science woven in at just the right junctures to make the relevant points.  What we particularly like is that it is un-judgmental and very practical.  We both wish we had had this at our fingertips 10 years ago!  Vital reading for all parents.”

- Janey Downshire and Naella Grew

Authors of Teenagers Translated: How to Raise Happy Teens (Vermilion, May 2014)


“We meet many parents who are thrown by what they hear about drug availability today.  Even if they have had experience of drugs themselves things seem different now.  This book enables sensitive ways into having the conversation about drugs that parents otherwise feel flummoxed by.”

- Jan King, Chief Executive, Angelus Foundation
(a charity that promotes the dangers of ‘legal highs’ and young people’s drug use)


The Drug Conversation provides accurate information about substances and the risks associated with use, delivered in a calm and non-judgmental way.  Evidence suggests that, contrary to popular belief, parents are key influences of young people’s behaviour.  This book can help parents support young people to avoid the harms associated with substance misuse.”

- Vivienne Evans OBE, Chief Executive, AdFam

(Charity that improves support for families affected by drugs and alcohol)



  1. What are psychoactive drugs, who uses them and why?
  2. Drug use and adolescence
  3. Having the drug conversation with your child
  4. Drugs and the brain
  5. Types of drugs
  6. Rise of the synthetics
  7. Detecting drug use and what to do about it
  8. Treatment and recovery
  9. Final thoughts

Appendix (other resources)



Login - Members Area

If you don't have an account please Click here to Register

Make a Donation