March 24, 2009 —

A couple weeks ago, fellow Five Mom Christy offered some great advice on how you can use the news to talk about cough medicine abuse.  When parents talk a lot to their teens about substance abuse, teens are up to 50 percent less likely to abuse substances. This shows how important it is that we have this conversation with our teens to help prepare them to make healthy choices at school and at home.

Unfortunately, opening a conversation about substance abuse with our teens can be difficult when we're not sure how to start. It is a good idea to think about not only what we are going to talk about with our teens, but how we can have the conversation.

Conversation with your kids doesn't necessarily need to take place in the home. You and your teen can talk in just about any location where you and your family might go, but try to choose a place where you can talk comfortably with your teen and give him or her your full attention. A loud baseball game may not be an appropriate place to have a serious conversation, but the walk through the parking lot or in the car before you start to drive are both great places to talk. By focusing your full attention on your teen, you are showing him or her that cough medicine abuse is an issue you consider important.

Similarly, if you have more than one child, it might be a good idea to talk to your kids one-on-one. By taking your oldest aside, you can establish that you want to have an adult conversation without any interruptions from younger siblings. For a middle or youngest child, the individual time you spend together shows that you know that your teen is growing up and that you see him or her as a young adult.

Avoiding a lecture and asking your teens about their point of view is another positive way to show your teen that you respect their ideas. Invite questions. If you don't know an answer to a particular question, don't be afraid to say so. It can turn into an excellent opportunity to visit web sites like WhatisDXM.com and StopMedicineAbuse.org together to find out the answer.

Opportunities to talk with your teens arise every day. Take advantage of them. It's so important to reach out to teens and have a conversation about the facts surrounding cough medicine abuse before your teens hear about it from questionable sources. As the recent study from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America showed, conversations about the risks of cough medicine abuse can make a huge difference to teens when it comes to making smart choices.

Have you recently talked with your teens about cough medicine abuse? Tell us on Gather and visit the Stop Medicine Abuse fan page on Facebook.