Partnership to End Addiction offers some suggestions and information on how to approach talking to your teen about drug abuse and addiction.
Parents are the biggest influence in a teen’s life. Even though you may feel your child pulling away, eager for more independence, deep down they still want you involved. A strong bond with your child, especially during the teen years, helps reduce the chances of them engaging in unhealthy behavior and helps set the stage for preventing nicotine, alcohol and drug use.
Staying involved and keeping tabs on teens’ activities — both online and off — can be another way of demonstrating that you care and can help develop a stronger parent-teen relationship. This is especially true if you communicate the reason why you’re interested in their actions and whereabouts. It’s important to stress that it’s not to be nosy or intrusive, but rather because you’re interested and care about them.
Parents often find themselves between a rock and a hard place when raising teens. It’s a delicate balance respecting your child’s growing independence while still needing to set rules and boundaries. Finding the right balance requires effective communication, making constant adjustments and staying in touch with what’s going on in their life.
Your teen may push back, but that’s no reason to back off. Help them understand that you’re involved because you love and want what’s best for them, not because of a lack of trust.
Keep in mind that teens say that when it comes to substances, their parents are the most important influence. That’s why it’s important to talk — and listen — to your teen. So, try to talk. A lot.
Discuss the negative effects of nicotine, alcohol and drugs. Clearly communicate that you do not want your teen using substances. Talk about the short- and long-term effects drugs and alcohol can have on their mental and physical health, safety and ability to make good decisions. Explain to your child that experimenting with drugs or alcohol during this time is risky for their still-developing brain.
Let your child know you understand. The teen years can be tough. Acknowledge that everyone struggles sometimes, but drugs and alcohol are not a useful or healthy way to cope with problems. Let your child know they can trust you.
Remind your child that you are there for support and guidance — and that it’s important to you that they’re healthy, happy and make safe choices.