How To Talk With Your Kids About Substance Abuse


With the rise of substance abuse use and abuse in the United States, it’s essential for youth to learn about the dangers of drugs and alcohol at an early age.


Have those serious (and sometimes tough) talks with your kids. Whether you’re a teacher, parent or someone else in a youth mentoring capacity, be sure to talk about substance use and abuse. Talk about the effects, dangers and ramifications that drugs and alcohol have on a child’s developing brain (after all, the brain doesn’t officially stop growing until age 26).


Tell your child that you don’t approve of underage drinking, using illicit drugs and abusing prescription drugs.

According to the Talk. They Hear You campaign, 80 percent or more of minors surveyed say that their parents’ disapproval of underage drinking and drugs influences their decisions to not partake in these activities, even in instances of peer pressure.


Show your child that you know your information about drugs and alcohol.

You don’t want to just tell them not to do something without backing up that information with research. So, do your research. Learn what alcohol does to the brain. See which drugs are the most used in your area. Chances are, your kids are learning about drugs and alcohol at school, from friends, video games, mass media and more. Show your kids that you are also a source of information — and make sure you have the right information to help them make good choices.


Make sure your child knows you care about his or her mental health.

You want your child to be happy and achieve success. Show your child that your are on his or her side. Say you don’t want your child to drink underage or use and abuse drugs because you want him or her to be happy and healthy. You don’t want to tell them no because “you said so.” Work for and with your child and not against him or her.


Talk about skills and strategies your child can use to not drink or use drugs.

Your child could be influenced by peers to drink or do drugs. Give them strategies to help them through those tough situations. Make sure they have talking points and ways to feel comfortable about saying “no.” Be sure to help your child build and maintain these skills and strategies. Read blogs to give you insight into how to address youth-related issues and find solutions.


Always show your child that you’re paying attention.

Your child will be less likely to engage in underage drinking or drug use if he or she knows that you are watching his or her behaviors and more. Be subtle when you are observing, and don’t be afraid to address a behavior if necessary.


If you’re having trouble talking with your child and are feeling a bit anxious, read some articles on BetterHelp to help you through these tough conversations. To download the National Prevention Week toolkit, promotional materials and more, click here.