Substance use and parenting do not mix: Tips for parents to make a plan

August 25, 2021

Whether winding down after a long day of work, relaxing on a peaceful Saturday afternoon or planning to enjoy a family holiday or birthday party —  everyone needs a moment to step back, unwind and chill. When relaxation includes substance use, it is important for parents and caretakers to have a plan for a sober caretaker to be present and available to care for their children.

Substance use refers to the use of drugs or alcohol and includes substances such as illegal drugs, solvents, cannabis and prescription medicines. When used or overused they cause people to change the way they feel, think or act.

For some adults, unwinding can mean having a glass of wine, enjoying a craft beer or smoking a joint. Although the aforementioned substances are legal, they can still impair your ability to keep your kids safe, so parents should have a plan.

Tips to consider when planning to use substances at home:

  • If you are parenting, skip the alcohol. But if you do consume, make sure you understand how alcohol affects you and be aware of your limits. Be sure that a sober caretaker is also present. 
  • Always assign a sober caretaker to be responsible to care for your children. 
  • Don’t consume substances while giving a child a bath or watching kids who are swimming or playing near a pool.
  • Properly store substances and medications out of reach of children. 
  • Don't drive if you have consumed any substances. 
  • If you are parenting, skip the cannabis. But if you do consume, be sure that you understand how marijuana affects you so that you can be aware of your limits. Be sure that a sober caretaker is also present. 
  • Being high while caring for a baby is not safe. Being high can make people sleepy, or sleep harder than usual. It is never safe to sleep with your baby. It puts the baby at an exceptional risk if co-sleeping while the caretaker is high.
  • Do your research - it is important to educate yourself about responsible marijuana use.
  • Mixing substances - including alcohol, marijuana and medications, is dangerous. The cross use of any substance can impair you more than using either one alone.  
  • It’s important to keep your cannabis locked away in the child-resistant packaging from the retailer, and invest in a safe or lockbox to ensure the only person who can get to your cannabis is you. 

Tips to consider when there is a possibility of using substances while attending a family holiday party or other function with your children:

  • Don’t leave your house without a plan.
  • Designate a sober caretaker.
  • Don’t drive if you have consumed any substances.
  • Offer to help other parents if you notice they have consumed too much.
  • Help other parents by sharing the tips listed above.

If you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse or struggling with substance use disorder, reach out to Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255. You’re not alone. Support is just a call or text away. Whatever you need, whenever you need it, they’re here to help.

If you are concerned about a child's safety or well-being, call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline — 844-CO-4-Kids. You should also call and make an additional report should you have updated information. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911. Many times, even if no abuse or neglect has occurred, counties can provide parents with the help they need.


Being a mom is tough, but so are you. If you are using alcohol or other drugs to cope with stress, you are not alone. Support is available so you can be the strongest mom possible. Visit Tough as Mother to learn more.

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Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline
Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don't hesitate to call and get help. 
Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.