Teen Alcohol and Drug Use:
How to Help keep them safe
1. Talk with them about how you feel about them using substances
This is a good time to share personal stories. Stories can show why you feel the way you feel or the problems you are hoping they will avoid.
2. Be specific about why you do not want them to use substances
Explain your concerns and fears and open the conversation to have them give their take on it as well. Make sure you are giving them enough space to ask questions and give their opinions. They will be much more likely to listen to your opinion and accept it if you do the same for them.
3. Talk about different substances
You don’t have to be an expert. But it is a good idea to have an idea of some of the major substances. Check out Project Know to find out more about the most common substances teenagers use. You can also check out our article on vaping to get more tips on how to start a conversation with your teen.
4. Don’t forget to talk about over-the-counter medications and “natural” remedies
Teenagers rarely think of prescription drugs or legal substances as harmful. This can lead to unwanted consequences and addiction. Make sure you talk about the dangers of sharing prescribed drugs. It is also important to talk about how “natural” and/or legal does not automatically mean safe. One such example is kratom.
5. Make sure you have regular conversations about substance use throughout the year
Talk before major events where substances are likely to be available. Regular chats help lessen any awkwardness and keeps communication open. It also reminds your teenager of your values on a regular basis.
6. Talk about what to do in various circumstances
Preparing your teenager for the pressures they will face is important. Talk about the signs of alcohol poisoning and the dangers of drinking and driving. It is also important to talk about the risk of mixing substances. And finally, talk about their vulnerability to others when consuming substances.
Give your teenager different scenarios and a chance to problem solve it with you as their guide. The more confidence you can give them ahead of time, the more likely they will make better decisions.
7. Let your teenager know that there will be no punishment for calling for help if they use substances
Talk about how to get help and when to get help. Everyone makes a mistake at some point so it is important to talk about your back-up plan.
There are no guarantees for whether your teenager will choose to use substances. But giving your teen the knowledge to make better decisions will help keep them safer.