Opening Up the Conversation About Drugs & Alcohol
One way to have effective, meaningful conversations with your teen about addiction is by discussing the topic early. If you wait until you notice the signs of substance abuse to talk with them, it may already be too late.
You want to keep the conversation with your teens about these topics ongoing. As they grow and mature, they’ll be exposed to different aspects of substance abuse and how you talk to your teen about drugs is going to evolve over time. Regularly check in with them to see how they are feeling about the subject.
Asking the Right Questions
Taking the first step in these conversations can be hard, but you can start with personal anecdotes about your own experiences or simple questions to get the conversation flowing. Some effective questions you can ask include:
- What do you know about marijuana?
- What do you know about addiction and how someone becomes addicted?
- What’s the conversation like in your school about drugs and alcohol?
- How do you keep yourself safe from risky situations?
While talking with your kids about addiction, use active listening skills, rephrasing what they’ve said to show that you understand. How you talk to your teen about drugs will help them feel heard, respected, and more likely to open up to you in the future. Don’t get angry with them for admitting past mistakes and avoid punishments that may stop them from opening up to you in the future.
Tips for Talking to Kids About Addiction
Before jumping into these conversations, you want to know as much as possible about the risk factors for substance abuse, side effects of certain drugs, and co-occurring mental health issues that could be affecting your teen.
How you talk to your teen about drugs may also include other issues your child could be having. From stress at school to symptoms of anxiety or depression, you must be ready for anything. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you should provide a comforting tone and a listening ear to maintain their trust. If they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, do some research together to create a strong bond that ensures they come back to you with more questions later.
After setting some ground rules and letting your child know about your expectations, you can always reinforce these conversations by letting your teen know they can call you if they feel unsafe in any situation. They shouldn’t have to fear repercussions, and you’ll always be there to give them a ride and get them home. Make it clear that there will probably be a discussion about their behavior the next day, but they can always count on you to keep them safe.
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