I Wish I'd Known - book club and reading resources

This page is all about helping our readers get the most that they can from ‘I Wish I’d Known’, whether they’re reading it on their own, with a friend, or in a book club, and whether from cover to cover, or dipping in and out (or both!).


There are lots of stopping off points embedded in the book, with practical suggestions of thing to look at, look up, talk about, consider or do, both with your child or on your own as a parent or carer; basically they help translate what you have read into real life. There are also plenty of additional resources signposted in each chapter and at the end of the book for anyone wanting to go into a topic in more detail.

We'd love to hear from you!

  • Share your discussion points: Below we provide a few pointers to guide readers and focus conversations with others. But there will be some discussion points that come up for individuals and groups and we’d love to know what these are so we can keep updating and enriching this page. Please send them to admin@dsmfoundation.org.uk
  • Share your feedback: We’d also love to hear your broader thoughts, and especially any ways in which the book has played a positive role in your family. Let us know by emailing admin@dsmfoundation.org.uk
  • Add an Amazon review: if you’ve enjoyed the book help us to reach more parents by adding a review on Amazon – positive reviews really do make a difference
  • Book club Q&As with Fiona: As much as the book provides information, it may raise questions. We are offering monthly book club Q&A sessions with Fiona, live on Facebook with links to recordings on this page. If you have any questions please send them to parents@dsmfoundation.org.uk

Some prompts for all chapters:

  1. What surprised you most?
  2. What concerned you most?
  3. What touched you most?
  4. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned?
  5. What’s the most important thing you’ve done since?
  6. Which of the Talking Points has been or will be the most useful for you?
  7. Which of the recommended reading resources did you access and what did you learn from it/them?

Sets a balanced perspective for parents, and lays out the context in relation to young people and drugs.


Prompts and pointers

  • On a scale of 0-5 how different is the world now for your own children compared to how it was for you? What makes it similar or different?
  • How unusual do you think the scenario was Dan found himself in?
  • What do you know about the drugs education provision within your child’s educational setting?
  • What are your thoughts on Joel’s story?

FAQs and useful resources:

#6 Drugs on social media

Looks at how psychoactive drugs produce the effects they do, and how these relate to risk, including a detailed ‘inside guide’ for parents to the drugs more commonly used by young people.


Prompts and pointers

  • Which of the substances referred to did you most want to find out more about?
  • What are some of the issues around legalising and regulating drugs? What could be safer, what could the risks and harms be, especially to children and young people?
  • What did you think of Will’s story?

FAQs and useful resources:

#2 Vaping

#4 Cannabis

#7 Nitrous oxide

#9 Ketamine

#12 MDMA

#15 Psychedelic drugs

#17 Cocaine

#19 Benzodiazepines including Xanax

#22 Steroids

#24 Opioids

#26 Amfetamines/amphetamines

Explores the variable factors that complicate risk for people who use drugs, in relation to the drug itself, the person taking it and the environment they may be in.


Prompts and pointers

  • What knowledge, if any, did you have when it comes to the variable factors at play in substance use? Was it more or less than you thought?
  • Did you have an opinion about drug testing before you read the chapter? Has it changed?
  • Have you (inadvertently) mixed medicines (or drugs) in the past? What happened?
  • Did you have the same side effects after having the Covid vaccine as everyone else you know? This is a good (and current) illustration of how the same substance can affect different people in very different ways.
  • What did you make of Ellie’s story?

FAQs and useful resources:

#14 Illegal raves

Examines the complexities of teenage decision making, including the important neurological changes and developments taking place in the adolescent brain and the factors that can make peer influence such a powerful force for teenagers.


Prompts and pointers

  • This chapter describes some of the reasons why young people take drugs, but many don’t – what do you think are their reasons for those choices?
  • Where do you think you sit on a scale of risk-taker to risk-averse? Do others agree with your assessment of yourself?
  • As a follow up to the above, has that changed your view of yourself? (Adults are subject to peer pressure too!)
  • What did you think of Matt’s story? And Alice’s letter?

FAQs and useful resources:

#3 Choice, risk and the teenage brain 

#21 Study drugs

Covers the legal risks to young people from involvement with drugs and alcohol and the lasting consequences these can have, as well as school, university and workplace drug policies.


Prompts and pointers

  • What did you make of the legal process surrounding Dan’s death?
  • Were you already aware of the issue of social supply or has this been eye-opening?
  • Has what you have read changed your mind about the ways in which you would deal with drugs in your home?
  • Can you think of other legal issues around drugs? (If not, take cocaine production in South America as a starting point.)
  • What are your reflections on Chris’s story?

FAQs and useful resources:

#25 Alcohol and the law

Explains how communication can work most effectively with teenagers, both speaking and listening, and a range of approaches to take at different ages and stages, and for different purposes, to make this a comfortable conversation.


Prompts and pointers

  • How do you view your communication with your teenager?
  • What three top tips from this chapter would you pass onto another parent or carer?
  • What are your experiences with alcohol and drugs? How much of this would you share with your child and can you see this changing as they get older?
  • If there is more than one of you parenting in your family, do you think you convey the same messages about drugs?
  • What do you make of the account about Jack?

FAQs and useful resources:

#8 Alcohol and talking about it with teenagers

#10 Conversations about drugs and alcohol

#11 Tricky conversations

What should you say to your child if they ask you if you ever took drugs, and you did?

Offers a range of practical strategies parents can put in place with their children, both at home and out and about, including drugs and alcohol first aid.


Prompts and pointers

  • Views on harm reduction measures vary – and that’s OK! Which ones highlighted do you think are sensible and you are use, and which do you feel less comfortable with and why?
  • Have you or anyone you know had their drink spiked?
  • What were your experiences like at parties/festivals etc? How do they compare to that of your children?
  • Can you think of any other steps you could take to make things safer for your children… and others?

FAQs and useful resources:

#13 Drink spiking

#14 Illegal raves

#16 Teenage parties

#18 Drugs and alcohol first aid

#23 Staying safe

#27 Festivals

Covers different types of drug use, signs parents can be looking out for, how to have those more difficult conversations, and how and where to find help and support if it’s needed.


Prompts and pointers

  • The signs of drug use are very variable, and can overlap with many other things, not least of all adolescent changes! Do you now feel better equipped to spot the signs?
  • Have you known someone with an addiction problem of any sort? Were you aware of it, or did it come as a shock? Thinking back, were there signs?
  • Has this chapter changed your view of addiction?
  • Who would you talk to if you found out your child was using drugs?
  • What are your thoughts on Jack’s story? And Georgia’s? And Josh’s?

FAQs and useful resources:

#1 Healthy coping strategies

#11 Tricky conversations


A reflection on the impact of drug use on others, child bereavement, how to navigate those early days, weeks and months, and where to find support.


Prompts and pointers

  • Do you know someone who has lost a child? What helped them?
  • What about your child – have they lost a friend or peer? How did you support them?
  • How has this book affected you? Will you go back to it?
  • Who would you recommend this book to?

FAQs and useful resources:

A suggested four-week book club focus:

Week 1: Effects and risks of drugs (Chapters 1, 2, 3 & 5)

Week 2: Conversations (Chapters 4 & 6)

Week 3: Staying safe (Chapters 7 & 8)

Week 4: Loss and general reflections (Chapter 9 and additional text)

DSM Foundation Parent Ambassadors

The growth and impact the DSM Foundation has consistently seen has rested in large part on an enormous community of support that has grown alongside it from the very start. Many of the members of this informal but committed community are parents with big hearts for the work we’re busy doing.


The Parent Ambassador role is being launched alongside Fiona’s book for parents to create a more focused opportunity for parents to get involved and support the work of the Foundation within their own communities and networks. There are various ways you can get involved as a Parent Ambassador.

A Parent Ambassador role includes:

  • Championing the work of the DSM Foundation within their own community, whether promoting to local schools, youth organisations, community and faith groups, and/or within their own networks (we can help with this);
  • Fundraising and helping find funding for the DSM Foundation through their community and connections (we can help with this too);
  • Organising or coordinating drugs and alcohol awareness events for parents and families, locally or online;
  • Sharing important information, updates and news about young people, drugs and decisions from the DSM Foundation within their social media networks.

We’ll provide you with guidance, tools and resources to support you in this role. We’ll also offer you the opportunity to connect with other Parent Ambassadors to share ideas and tips and provide peer support.

If you’d like to find out more or to sign up please contact admin@dsmfoundation.org.uk