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Having ongoing conversations with your child can help build a healthy, supportive relationship. It can also help you and your child avoid or reduce conflict as situations arise throughout their teen years.

6 Ways to Talk to Your Teens about Drugs and Alcohol

Talking to your kids about substance abuse doesn’t have to be difficult. References to drugs and alcohol appear in headlines, sitcoms, movies and advertisements. Take advantage of these opportunities to start a conversation with your child.

  1. Use blocks of time such as after dinner, before school or on the drive to and from school and extracurricular activities to talk about drugs and why they’re harmful.
  2. Take advantage of everyday “teachable moments.” Teachable moments refer to using everyday events in your life to point out things you’d like your child to know about.
  3. Point out alcohol, tobacco and drug-related situations going on in your own neighborhood. If you and your child are at the park and see a group of kids smoking or drinking, use the moment to talk about the negative effects of alcohol and tobacco.
  4. Use newspaper headlines or TV news stories as a conversation starter. The daily news is filled with stories that detail the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. Talk to your child about the mother who used drugs and was arrested. Who will take care of her baby now? Did she make a good decision when she used drugs?
  5. Watch TV with your kids and ask them what they think. Do the shows and advertising make drug use look acceptable and routine? Or do they show its downsides? How did that program make your child feel about drugs? Write a letter with your child to companies or TV networks about the messages they put out about drugs. Also remember that anti-drug advertising – such as that from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids – is a great kick-off to discussion.
  6. When discussing outside events – something in TV or pop culture – ask open-ended questions, suggests Dr. Drew, physician, board certified internist and addiction medicine specialist. “’What do you think about that?’ is a great way to start. It takes the heat off them – and then you have an opportunity to share with them your values, your ideas and educate.”

Source: Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Used with permission from Treatment Research Institute and the Partnership at Drugfree.org