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Talking To Your Teen About Drugs, Alcohol, And Addiction

From the moment you become a parent, you worry about the well-being and happiness of your child. Things like their sleep, diet, education, and social life become a priority, as you navigate the ups and downs of raising a child. And then come the teenage years, adding a whole new set of things to worry about. They are often filled with harsh hormone changes, peer pressure, and uncontrollable angst. Adding to the stress is the fact that you no longer have the control you once did.

One thing you can do to be proactive about supporting your teen through the tough years is to talk openly about sex, drugs, alcohol, addiction, and other threatening obstacles. Today, we are focusing on the topic of addiction and how to approach it with your teen. 


The key is to help educate them about the dangers of substance use and abuse before they go down that path. Understand, it may seem like they aren’t listening or don’t care, but they do, especially if you’ve been talking about it for a while. As they get older, you can add vital information as it applies to their age group. The main thing is that they need to know that you are there and can help with any problems they come against. And you need to know that you can trust them to make good decisions.

Sharing the Details

Addiction and chemical substances in general affect the teenage brain differently than they do the adult brain. This is because children and teens do not have a fully developed frontal cortex. This fact lowers their ability to control impulses and navigate being in an altered state. Some teenagers are more mature and could handle themselves better, but it’s impossible to predict how anyone will react to drug or alcohol use for the first time. It is, therefore, imperative to relay this information before the situation arises. 

Depending on their age, you can also share the various consequences of drug and alcohol use and abuse. Talk openly about any problems that you had as a teen and what happened as a result. This helps them to relate to you and trust that you are looking out for their best interest. I recommend discussing the areas in which addiction and substance abuse affect like physical health, emotions, mental health, legal, education, and their future.

Talking about Temptation and Risky Behavior

Teenagers are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, as they are less likely to interpret a situation as dangerous. They are also more likely to come up against tempting situations and feel pressure to act in inappropriate ways. Remember when you were a teen and how easy it was to succumb to peer pressure in order to fit in. 

As parents, it’s our job to educate them about what they could experience both before indulging in drugs and alcohol and after. Be honest about what it feels like to be high or drunk. They need to know how it impairs judgment and can cause you to do things you wouldn’t normally do.  If they still want to dabble in substance abuse after they have all the information, at least you have done your job and warned them.

What If They Are Already in Trouble?

You’ve done and said everything you can to help prevent your child from going down the path of substance abuse. Though this is every parent’s nightmare come true, know that there is help for both your child and you. First, it’s important to establish communication with your child and connect in any way you can. Building trust is of the utmost importance because they will be thinking about getting the next drink or dose. The child you once knew has been compromised and won’t seem like herself.

You need to know all of the traditional options for recovery as well as drug rehab alternativesThe best thing we can do is love them and be clear about what your expectations are. After all, she might push hard to get what she wants, testing your patience and love. This can strain your relationship as you move toward resolution.

Hopefully, you will never have to deal with this unfortunate situation. That is why it’s crucial to speak about addiction and substance abuse early on. It also might help to ask them what they already know, so they don’t get bored or feel lectured. You could also watch some films or read books together that deal with teen substance abuse. The bottom line is that the more you talk about it, the more in control you and your teen will feel about the future.

About Madeline

Madeline is a mid-west mom of three who spends most of her time refilling ice trays and changing toilet paper...just kidding. She is a high school guidance counselor, all around funny gal, and a writer. Her first book, Be Happy Already!", is in the works.

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