Teachable Moments

By Misty Posted April 14, 2010 under

We know that talking with teens about drugs reduces the likelihood that they will abuse drugs, but beginning a conversation about substance abuse with our teens can be difficult, especially when we don’t know how to start it.

Our friends at the Partnership for a Drug-Free America polled parents on just that: What is the most effective opportunity to start a conversation with kids about living a healthy drug-free life? Nearly half of respondents (43 percent) said the most effective time to discuss drugs was in parallel with a family matter, such as when a family member or friend is facing the consequences of drug use. Some parents said the best time to broach the topic was when it was less personal, like when celebrity rehab stories surface in the media or after watching a movie with drug references.

Yet, even with these timely moments, talking to your kids about drugs can be tricky – and maybe even embarrassing – but I can tell you firsthand that these are vitally important conversations to have. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s Parent Talk Kit includes scripts that focus on scenarios such as if your child comes home smelling of cigarettes or alcohol, if your child was offered drugs at school, or if your teen is hanging with a different crowd.

Taking the time to start the conversation with your teens about substance abuse provides you with the opportunity to have an honest and open dialogue. Simply talking to your teens can make a huge difference in the decisions they make, especially when they face pressures from their peers.

Here is a sampling of conversation starters from the Parent Talk Kit that you can use at home to get the conversation started:

  • “Hey, you probably know that parents talk to each other and find things out about what’s going on at school… I heard…”
  • “I know it’s been a while since I talked to you about the dangers…”
  • “If you’re ever offered drugs at school, tell that person, ‘My mother would kill me…’”
  • “Most people who use drugs and alcohol need a lot of help to get better. I hope [name] has a good doctor and friends and family members to help…”

As parents, it’s our job to keep our kids safe. If we educate them enough, ultimately it will be our voices they hear in the back of their heads when faced with a tough choice.

What are your suggestions for best conversation starters? Share your advice with other parents at the Stop Medicine Abuse Fan page on Facebook.