Talking about Alcohol and Other Drugs
Why are teenagers using drugs?
- To be relaxed and have fun
- To be like their friends
- To try new things
- To feel better about themselves
- To deal with stress
- To rebel
- To have “something to do”
Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis are drugs.
Communicating With Your Child About Alcohol and Other Drugs
Talking to your child can be hard, but it is key to good relationships.
- If you drink, drink responsibly
- Know your child’s friends
- Listen to your child
- Know the facts about alcohol and other drugs
- Praise your child’s good behaviour
- Be interested in your child’s life
What parents can do:
- Teach your child ways to say “no” to alcohol and other drugs. For example: give an excuse or change the subject.
- Use examples from TV or movies to talk to your child about the effects alcohol and other drugs can have on families.
- Talk with your child. Your child needs to know what the family rules are and what will happen if the rules are broken.
- Talk to your partner, a friend or professional about any concerns you may have.
Children may experiment with alcohol and other drugs even with parent’s best efforts. Do not get discouraged! It may be difficult for your child to make responsible decisions with all the things that he/she is experiencing in life.
Here are some conversation starters:
- I know that many teenage parties/get-togethers involve drinking. If there is drinking, I expect you to leave. I expect you not to drink. If you must drink, be responsible, set some limits.*
- Let’s talk about some of the things tobacco/alcohol/marijuana can do to you, because I care about you.
- I found a cigarette in your pant pocket, so I’ve been wondering if you’ve been smoking. Can we talk about it?
- What if a friend offered you drugs? Can you and I come up with ways to say “no” or to refuse drugs?
- If you are in a situation where you are uncomfortable or feel you can’t handle it, call me. I will pick you up.*
- How do you feel about the kids at school who drink or use other drugs?
- I understand you may want to experiment with alcohol. There are many risks to drinking at this stage of your life, such as alcohol poisoning. Your safety is my first concern.
- I want to talk to you about the party, because I care about you. It’s important for young people to learn how to socialize, communicate and develop friendships without using alcohol or other drugs.
- Most young people do not use alcohol and other drugs. Part of growing up is learning to make decisions on your own – not just following along with your friends. Sometimes being different and not going along with the group sets you apart and shows that you are more grown up than your other friends. A friend should respect you and your decisions about not using drugs.
- Can we talk? I just saw a show on TV about drugs, and what do you say if someone offered you some? Thank you for giving me the time and for being honest with me.
*Acknowledgement: Parent Action on Drugs
If you see the following signs in your child…
- drop in grades
- missing school or family events
- change in friends
- sudden changes in mood or behaviour
- reduced motivation for hobbies, sports or school
Your child may be using alcohol or other drugs. Talk with your child!
If you need information, support or counselling resources for your child on alcohol and other drugs:
- Talk to your doctor
- Check the Drug and Alcohol Helpline
- Check with your local hospital or the Hospital For Sick Kids Adolescent Substance Abuse Outreach Program
- Look for community youth services such as YMCA Youth Substance Abuse program.