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How to Talk to Your Teen about Substance Abuse

Published on October 20th, 2017

Talking to your children about drug abuse is rarely, if ever, easy, but it’s crucial. Practicing family therapy in Minneapolis and surrounding communities, we know there is no silver bullet for preventing teen substance abuse. And sometimes just beginning the conversation on substance abuse is the hardest part. So, to help you get started, we want to pass on a few suggestions which we hope you’ll find useful.

Plan in advance

One of the last things you want to do is suddenly and without warning, spring a serious conversation like this one on your teens. So, tell them there is something you’d like to talk about and ask them when they would like to have the conversation. If they set the time and place, there’s a good chance they’ll listen and be actively engaged.

Start early

One study has found that 62% of teens who admitted drinking said they had their first drink before the age of 15. Thus, it’s crucial not to delay, and you should consider talking to your kids about drugs and drinking between the ages of 12 to 14. It’s hard to believe, but there’s a good chance they’ve already been offered substances by then.

Don’t make accusations

Unless you have hard evidence they’re drinking or using drugs, don’t start the conversation with demands and accusations. Instead, you might ask them what they know about alcohol and drugs and also ask what’s going on at their school and in their social circle. If you’re asking honest questions, your teens will be less prone to become defensive and lie. If you’re open and comfortable, your children should be, too.

Make the rules clear

Spell out your rules clearly as well as the consequences for breaking them. Well-defined boundaries let your kids know exactly where you stand, and these boundaries may well help them resist peer pressure if they can use their parents as an excuse for saying “no.”

Keep the lines open

Talking to your teens about substance abuse is a process, not a one-time thing. Keep an eye open for changes in mood or behavior and any other signs that may indicate it’s time to talk again and check on their safety.
Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for professional family therapy help in Minneapolis and its suburbs. Also, click to learn about our Adolescent Diversion Program! We want to help, so call us today at 952-894-7722.

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