A message from our Substance Awareness CoordinatorMr. Frank CapobiancoPlease feel free to visit my EBOARD for additional information
I Know It's Important
To Talk to My Teen about Drugs and Alcohol
But What Should I Say Exactly?
Dear Supporter of
The Partnership at Drugfree.org:
Recent news about bath salts and marijuana soda can leave parents wondering which substances are on their teen's radar.
Soon thoughts may swirl through your mind: Do any of his friends smoke pot? Has he been offered a joint? Do her friends get drunk? Does she?
Of course, the only way to know the answers to these questions is to come out and ask.Try using a book to spark a conversationwith your teen about drugs and alcohol.
But we know this isn't as easy as it sounds.
Well, one way to start the dialogue with your child is to use Teachable Moments.
The idea is to use news items, movies, books or TV shows as a springboard to start a conversation about drugs or alcohol. "So, what do you think about what's going on with [insert fictional characters, celebrity, professional athlete, classmates or relative?]" or "Have you ever heard of bath salts?"
Perhaps even one of the seven beer ads airing during this Sunday's Super Bowl might help spark a conversation.
It's also important to know what's out there. To help you sound like you know what you're talking about, we've developed a handy Drug Guide for Parents (pdf) outlining the 13 most commonly used drugs by teens.
Lastly, when you do talk with your child, ask him to share his experiences and opinions about teens who use. Then tell him how you feel and what you expect from him. Try to be warm but firm.
For example, to support a no-use policy, you might say:
Ø "I'm not trying to ruin your fun. I love you and I want you to stay healthy. The best way to do that is to stay completely away from drugs and alcohol. I need you to promise that you will."
Ø "I realize there's a lot of temptation out there. I also know you're a really smart, strong person. That's why I expect you to stay clean — no matter what your friends are doing. Agreed?"
Ø "There's a lot of new science about teens, drugs and alcohol. It scares me to know how easily you could damage your brain or get addicted. I want your word that you'll steer clear of all that, and keep me in the loop on the kids you hang out with, too."
Keep in mind that kids who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use than those who don't get that message at home. So, while your chats may not be without their awkward moments, they're definitely worth it.
Father of two teenage daughters
P.S.Wondering what to say if your child asks, "Have you ever done drugs?"Well here are some thoughts on that one.