Starting the conversation about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can make even the most confident parent feel nervous. You do not need to be an expert or know all of the answers. The most important thing a parent can communicate is your desire for your child to remain substance free, your desire to be seen as a trusted resource, and a willingness to learn together. If your teen comes to you with a question and you do not know the answer, it provides a great opportunity to learn together.
How do you start the conversation?
Conversations about tough topics are best handled by talking early and often.
- Youth and teens benefit more from short but frequent conversations – “60 – one minute conversations” instead of one 60 minute lecture.
- A recent event in the community or celebrity news can provide an easy opportunity to ask your teen’s thoughts
- By starting the conversation around drugs and alcohol at an early age, teens are more likely to come to you with questions
Before your teen faces peer pressure, identify family strategies for safe exits.
- Develop a code word or phrase that can be said by phone or text that let’s your teen communicate immediate need for assistance
- Apps that track location can seem stifling but provide teens with an out when pressured to sneak out or lie about their location. “Sorry, My mom has a tracking app on my phone. It’s not worth getting caught.”
It takes a lot of courage for your teen to share what is going on.
- Thank your child for trusting you with this information.
- Assure them that you love them as this is often one of their deepest fears
- Ask them to share more about what happened
- Work together to determine next steps
- For substance use and behavioral health services in Spartanburg please contact The Forrester Center for Behavioral Health
Model safe driving practices at all times. If you don’t practice what you preach, it reduces the perceived importance of your expectations.
- Tell your teen to always buckle up and respect the speed limit
- Limit the number of passengers when your teen is driving
- Help your teen link their phone to the car bluetooth if available to allow for safe, hands-free talking
- Know where your teen is and who they are with before teen leaves for activity
Parent To Parent
Verify by phone or in person with another parent if an overnight sleepover or event is planned.
- Make sure to share your family’s stance on underage alcohol and substance
- Clearly communicate an expectation that these family values will be honored while your teen is at their house
- Verify that an adult will be home all night and checking in on teens as appropriate
1 in 20 people will experience a mental health challenge during their lifetime.
- Some teens misuse alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs to manage their mental health in private
- The stigma surrounding anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns, prevents people from seeking help
- Sharing a personal experience or the experience of someone close to the teen can help normalize the conversation
The earlier teens begin drinking the more likely they are to misuse alcohol.
- Allowing alcohol use at home sends to message that there is a safe level of underage alcohol use
- Teens are more likely to binge drink in college if they drank in high school, not less likely
Teens may believe that a friend’s prescription is safe for them to use.
- Help your teen understand the importance of taking pills only when prescribed and at the recommended dosage
- Medications for ADD, ADHD, anxiety, or pain management may be shared or sold by peers and are easily misused
- Whenever a medicine in no longer needed or expires, please dispose of them at your nearest Prescription Drug Dropbox (hyperlink) or a Deterra Bag