Teen Behavior Drugs Drinking Talking

Parents play a significant role in shaping how their teenage son or daughter views drug and alcohol use. Most parents know they need to talk to their teen about drugs and alcohol, but some may be unsure how to approach the subject. Other parents may worry they will say the wrong thing, especially if they themselves tried drugs as a teen.

Here are some tips for parents when talking to teenagers about drugs and alcohol:

  • Be honest. Your teen may ask you questions about your own drinking habits or encounters with drugs as a teenager. Decide beforehand how you want to answer these questions. Most experts recommend being honest while still being clear that teen drug use and drinking are not permissible by your rules. If you used drugs as a teenager and feel now it was a mistake, discuss that with your teen. The key is to keep the lines of communication open without sending a mixed message to your teenager.
  • Ease into it. Make use of antidrug public service announcements or television programs about drug abuse as an opening for starting the conversation. This approach helps the discussion feel more natural and relaxed and less like a formal lecture.
  • Encourage discussion. Ensure the conversation is a two-way street. Ask your teen questions about what’s going on at school concerning drugs, what kind of questions or rumors they may be wondering about and how they feel about the subject of teen drug abuse. Encourage questions and let your child know that she can come to you with concerns.
  • Provide facts. Give your teenager the facts on teen drug use. Talk explicitly and openly about the dangers of drinking and driving and the risk of addiction (especially if your family has a history of addiction). Be prepared to list reasons for teens to stay away from drugs and alcohol and why it’s important to avoid friends who use drugs and drink. You may need to read up on the subject beforehand in order to educate yourself so that you may better educate your teen.
  • Set boundaries. Be very clear about your rules. Some parents think teen drinking is inevitable and decide to encourage “responsible” drinking rather than telling their teen not to drink at all. Experts on teen drug abuse generally agree that this approach increases the likelihood that a teen will abuse drugs and alcohol. Make sure your child understands the household rules about drugs or drinking.


Coleman, P. (n.d.). How to say it: drugs and alcohol. Retrieved September 4, 2010, from http://life.familyeducation.com/teen/drugs-and-alcohol/36544.html

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Teen drinking: Talking to your teen about alcohol. Retrieved September 4, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/teen-drinking/MY00521

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. (n.d.). Ongoing teen-parent communication. Retrieved September 4, 2010, from http://www.theantidrug.com/advice/safeguarding-and-monitoring/conversation-tips/teen-parent-communication.aspx