How to Talk to your Teen About Drugs

Many parents avoid talking to their teens about drugs because they simply aren’t sure how to start the conversation, but it is essential to maintain open lines of communication so you aren’t blindsided by your teen’s drug use. I worked as a teacher in a residential treatment center for teens and what I saw over and over again were parents who said they didn’t talk to their teens about drug use or look for signs of drug use for one simple reason – their child would never do that. By the time those parents discovered how deeply in trouble their child was, it was too late for preventative measures.

Open the Lines of Communication Early

Teens are notoriously bad communicators. Despite the fact that they are often feeling a swirl of emotion, parents are often lucky to get more than a one or two word response if they try and discus drug use with their child. Open the lines of communication early by developing an open relationship with your child while he is young.  Don’t be afraid to bring up sensitive subjects before the teen years. Kids are exposed to drug use earlier all the time so it is never to early to educate them. After working with 12 year old kids who had serious addiction issues, I have regular, developmentally appropriate conversations with my 6 year old in an effort to provide him with information before he is faced with needing to make a choice.

Not confronting your teenager about his or her teenage alcohol abuse could only make things worse for the both of you.

Do your Research First

There’s few things worse than having an awkward conversation without knowing what you are going to say first. Do some basic research before talking with your teen so that you can be prepared to answer any questions that may come up and have some factual information to add to the conversation. Try talking with other parents of teens for advice on what has worked for them and what mistakes to avoid.

Don’t Hide the Truth

Chances are, you’ve had a friend or family member who has abused drugs or alcohol. Rather than hiding the truth from your teen, be upfront about it and talk about the way those choices have affected that person’s life. Seeing the true consequences of drug and alcohol abuse will be far more effective than any statistics you can find to discourage drug use.

Treat Your Child with Respect

Respect is not something you earn the right to with age. Respect is something everyone deserves as human beings. Treat your child with respect and acknowledge that, ultimately, he is responsible for the choices he makes in life. Practice being aware of how your words are coming across to your teen, by considering your tone, body language, and choice of words. Trying to control your child will always backfire. Make it clear early on that you are there to help guide, not to control.

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  1. 4


    When I was growing up, my mother would provide me with wine coolers/cigarettes/etc to seem “cool”. Talk about leading me into addiction!

    I’ve been open and honest with my oldest son, which is painful for me to do! However he knows that there is no such thing as “experimentation”. You either are drinking/doing drugs or you’re not.
    .-= Sarah @ OneStarryNight´s last blog ..Bloggers Fear Themselves =-.

    • 5


      That’s got to be hard but that’s great that you are brave enough to be honest with your son and let him learn from your mistakes to hopefully avoid making some of his own.

  2. 6


    I really want to just say thank-you for this post. Every parent needs to know that you have to start early and often with these talks and it doesn’t have to be difficult. My ex-husband was a drug addict and abusive, he eventually died because of it and was never present in my children’s lives. Although I never bad mouthed their dad, drugs and their ultimate consequences are something we have discussed for years and my oldest is only ten. I live in terror that they will fall prey to peer pressure in school as they grow older.
    .-= Kathleen B.´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday – Crazy Face =-.

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