How to Have the “Drug Talk” With Your Teen

As a parent, talking to your teen about the risks and consequences of drug use is an important task. It can also be an overwhelming one, however. Even if you and your teen are close, knowing how to approach the subject of drug abuse can be difficult. Here are some tips for starting that conversation.

1. Remember That it’s a Conversation

When it’s time to approach the topic of drug abuse, it’s helpful to remember that it’s a conversation you’re having with your teen, not a lecture you’re giving them. While there are certainly things that you could and should tell them, it’s important to give them the opportunity to participate and offer their own perspectives and opinions, too.

2. Set Very Clear Expectations

If the aim of your talk is to set ground rules, be extremely clear about your expectations, leaving no room for individual interpretation. For example, state clearly that “you are not allowed to use any form of drug or alcohol.” After this, it is important to explain your reasons for setting these boundaries.


Image Gareth Williams

3. Be Honest

There are many things you can be honest about that will help your teen understand your point of view. Your care and concern for them is one that’s very important. Also, don’t be afraid to be honest about the risks of drug abuse and the long term consequences it can have. Explain to them that drugs are dangerous—and also illegal. You are not simply  making things up to scare them.

4. Be Open to Questions and Listening

Encourage your teen to ask questions and share their own concerns. Try approaching the topic by asking them about what they’ve seen in a movie or on TV and listen to what they have to say. If you don’t have the answer to something, be honest, and let them know you will find some information and bring it back to them. Always let them know that the conversation is open-ended and that you’re always willing to talk about it.

Having a “drug talk” with your teen may seem like a daunting task—and at times it might be. This conversation, however, is an important one to have. An honest and open policy with this topic will help your teen understand that they can come to you in times of need.

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