Talking Points on Substance Use for Parents

drug free and proudHere are some facts to keep in mind when talking to your kids about drugs:

  • Addiction is a complex brain disease with roots in adolescent use. Talk to your child about how nicotine, alcohol and other drugs can impair brain function.
  • Teens are exposed to an excessive amount of promotion for alcoholic products like beer, wine, vodka, and sweetened or flavored alcoholic drinks daily. Talk with your child about what they see on TV, hear on the radio or read in magazines. Provide your child with the right messages to replace the wrong ones.
  • Peer pressure may play a role in a child’s decision to use nicotine, alcohol and other drugs. Talk to your child about the importance of being their own person and making their own decisions.
  • Tell your child the truth—that drugs, including nicotine and alcohol, may make them feel good for a while, but that feeling is brief and no one can know the true potency or lifetime effects of these substances.
  • Try to impress on your child the long-term consequences nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs may have on something they enjoy doing, such as sports, math or writing.
  • Easy availability promotes use. Ask your child if they’ve seen peers using drugs at school or if they were offered nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs at a party with friends. Talk about what they should do in those situations.
  • Explain the rules in your home to your child. Also talk about what consequences will be enforced if they don’t follow those rules.Talk to your child about positive adult role models. Identify members in your community for your child that they can talk to if they have a question about substance use.
  • When you talk to your child about not smoking, drinking, or using other drugs, tell them if a family member has suffered from addiction. Let your child know that positive lifestyle choices will help them avoid drugs use.
  • If your child is approaching the age when they will learn how to drive talk about the dangers of drinking and driving. Let me them know that this behavior puts them and others at risk.
Adapted from "Just Say Know: Talking With Your Kids About Drugs And Alcohol" - Cynthia Kuhn, How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents, and The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse