It’s not surprising to hear that the teen population using alcohol and drugs is pretty high. Even teens as young as 13 are beginning to drink or try certain drugs due to peer pressure. Of course, parents certainly don’t want their children to fall into alcohol or drug abuse, so knowing how to talk to teens about drugs can be helpful.
Today, let’s discuss 7 tips on how you can talk to your teen about drugs and alcohol:
1. Designate a Time to Talk
Make time to talk to your teens when no one is preoccupied. Don’t try talking when your teen is watching television or fiddling with the phone. Sit down with your teens where there won’t be any distractions and designate the time you sit to talking about alcohol and drugs.
2. The Earlier, the Better
Don’t wait until your teens are 15 or 16 to talk to them about substances. Over half of teens by the age of 15 have already tried alcohol. Sit and talk with your children beginning at the age of 12 about alcohol, drugs, and addiction. Chances are by the age of 12, they already know other kids who are using the substances at least occasionally.
3. Be Calm and Collected
If you start accusing your teens of drinking or drugging, chances are they will shut down or just get angry. When you approach them, do so in a loving and non-judgmental way. Have a simple conversation about the topic without accusing, demanding, or making threats. Ask them if they know about alcohol and drugs. Inform them of the dangers and invite them to ask questions.
4. Be Honest
Keep your conversation honest, letting the teens know about the harmful effects of such substances without exaggerating. Let them know that underage drinking is illegal, as well as taking drugs. Let them know what the consequences will be if you find out they are using substances. You can tell them various stories about other teens or adults that are struggling with addiction or how their lives were severely burdened by it. If you’re honest with your teens, even when it’s challenging, they’ll be more apt to be honest with you.
5. Don’t Freak Out
It’s not always easy to know how to talk to teens about drugs. If your teen tells you that he’s tried alcohol or some type of drug, don’t freak out. If you react in an angry manner and act out, your teen may never fess up to anything again. Sure, you might feel angry, but do your best to contain it. Let him/her know that you’re glad they could tell you the truth, and that you are feeling some anger or disappointment. At the same time, have a conversation around it. Talk about the harms of drinking or drugging and certainly lay down your boundaries for any future use.
6. Encourage Your Teen
Many teens drink or drug out of peer pressure. They’re getting something they perceive to be good out of doing it. Maybe drinking helps them deal with their anxiety better or drugging makes them feel less emotional pain. Do your best to affirm your teens often. Give them compliments and let them know that you’re proud of them, regardless of what’s going on. Teens want their parents’ unconditional love and approval, even when they think they might not even deserve it. Determine to love them without conditions, as this will help build their self-esteem and worth.
7. Clearly Set the Rules and Consequences
The reality is that many teens will try alcohol or some type of drug at some point. As a parent, set the rules and consequences ahead of time. Let them know that if they’re caught drinking or drugging, these consequences will be enforced no matter what. Then, be sure to enforce them should you need, because if you don’t, your teens may very well keep drinking or drugging because they don’t experience any negative consequences when doing so.
How To Talk To Teens About Drugs
Many teens will try drinking or take some type of drug, so be sure as a parent that you communicate openly and honestly with your teen about this. Be a role model for your teens and keep the communication lines open. Don’t just talk about substances once; look for ways to bring it into the conversation throughout their teen years. The topic should not feel like it’s taboo.
If your teen is clearly abusing substances and you haven’t been able to make headway against them stopping, consider reaching out to a professional for advice and/or treatment. Sometimes it’s necessary for those that are addicted to get help to make the final break from their drug of choice.
Have you had a talk with your teens about alcohol and drugs?