Having the conversation with your teen about drug use is never an easy one, even if you think they haven’t started using yet. Even though having the conversation may seem intimidating, having it is one of the best things you can do for your teen. Don’t put it off and don’t avoid it. It is very likely it will lead to more problems with dire consequences later. Here are some tips for starting that conversation.

Use recent incident in family or friends to open conversations.

One of the easiest ways to start the conversation is to use a situation that may have happened recently to a friend or family member. It’s a good way to broach the subject with out coming at your teen directly. Get them talking about that situation and it can give you a lot of insight into where they are at. It can also provide a great segway into talking about their possible substance abuse issues.

Make sure you draw boundaries

Make sure your child knows exactly where you and your family stands on drug use. There shouldn’t be any grey area or ambeguity. Being clear on your family rules, is not an excuse to get harsh or judgemental. Rather it is an opportunity to be calm and firm.

Don’t ignore mental health issues

It’s very common for substance abuse to go hand in hand with mental disorders like depressions, eating disorders, etc. Often, they are the deeper root of the drug use and knowing there could be more issues at hand than just experimentation can change the whole course of your conversation.

Don’t lie about your own drug use

Be honest about your own past. Admitting that you used is not going to encourage your child to use or give them permission. Instead talking about why you used and why you got clean can be a perfect bridge for you to connect with them. You aren’t glorifying drug use by talking about it, but lieing about it can damage your relationship with your adolescent and push them away.

Don’t wait for perfect time to talk. Look for opportunities.

As we mentioned earlier, we know this conversation is hard. It’s easy to come up with reasons to avoid it. It’s rare that the “perfect” opportunity will come up so you need to put effort into looking for the right opening. You may need to may an opportunity to have a conversation.

You are not the first parent to struggle with figuring out how to talk to your teen about substance abuse. Remember you are not alone in this challenge. Come back next week to check out the second blog in this series.