Why Is Talking About
Many addictions begin during the teen years when many children face peer pressure and the desire to carve out their own personal identities. Forming a bond with your child, especially during the teen years, helps reduce the odds they will use drugs and alcohol or engage in risky behaviors.
Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to connect with—and protect—their kids. But, when tackling some of life’s tougher topics, especially those about drugs and alcohol, just figuring out what to say can be a challenge. Thankfully, there are extensive resources to help parents find the right things to say.
Can Parents Use?
The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids offers parents a wide range of helpful resources, including:
- How to connect with kids no matter what their age – with specific tips for ages ranging from toddler to young adulthood
- How to connect with your teenagers
- How to listen and have a conversation, not a confrontation
- How to break through barriers when kids who are using drugs deny using them
- How to talk to kids if you yourself used drugs
- How to bring others – such as counselors, coaches, or clergy – into the conversation
- Why kids behave the way they do, how their brains are developing, and why it is important to prevent kids from misusing drugs
- Special risk factors that might lead a young person to misuse drugs, such as childhood trauma or a family history of drug misuse or mental health issues
Additional resources for parents are available through the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and their Parent Resource Library as well as Operation Prevention.
Can Parents Do?
As a parent, you can take additional steps to encourage your kids to make good choices and discourage them from misusing drugs, including:
- Building a warm and supportive relationship with your child.
- Being a good role model when it comes to drinking, taking medicine, and handling stress.
- Knowing the risks factors that may affect your child.
- Knowing your child’s friends.
- Monitoring, supervising, and setting appropriate boundaries for your child.
To reduce the risk of prescription drug misuse specifically, you should also:
- Dispose of unneeded or leftover medications.
- Lock up prescription medications that you do need.
- Ask the right questions if opioids are prescribed to you or your child.
Know the Warning Signs
of Drug Abuse
As a parent, you should also learn the warning signs of drug misuse, so you can take action to help your child. Spotting the signs of drug misuse requires paying close attention to your child’s behavior. Here are some ways to do so:
- Use your nose. If your child has been drinking or smoking, the smell may be on their breath, on clothing, and in their hair.
- Look them in the eyes. When your child gets home after going out with their friends, take a close look at their eyes for signs of drug use.
- Watch for mood changes. How does your teen act after a night out with friends? Are they loud, clumsy, withdrawn, queasy, or otherwise different?
- Monitor driving and the car. Does the interior smell like smoke or alcohol fumes? Are there are any bottles, pipes, bongs, or other drug paraphernalia rolling around on the floor or hidden in the glove compartment?
- Keep an eye out for deceptive or secretive behavior.
See a detailed list of warning signs, and learn more from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.