Talk to Your Teen About Substance Abuse

Finding ways to talk to your teen can seem like pulling teeth. It’s not always fun and sometimes ends in screaming or slamming doors. Teenage years aren’t always a breeze for more parents. You child is going through puberty which means hormonal changes, moodiness, trouble fitting in with their peers and a slew of other daily issues that you may not even be aware of. Talking with your teen about drug use can be discussed that may come naturally depending on your dynamic with your child. However, some of us have trouble talking about serious issues and getting down to the heart of the matter. No matter when you approach your child about drug use you shouldn’t approach is as a lecture but an open discussion. Thinking back to your teenage years can put into perspective what it was like to ‘deal with’ your parents. A lot of adults have none too pleasant reminiscence about their parents during their teen years. However, as you got older you either understood your parent’s approach or decided that when/if you have children you would do it differently. So, now is your chance but the question really is: How? Here are some tips from a substance abuse counselor Sherman Oaks Ca.

Setting ground rules in regards to your teen and substance use can allow them to have structure and keep themselves safe when you aren’t there to do so. This doesn’t mean that your teen will follow your rules (as they say, ‘rules are meant to be broken’) however, a child that has clear rules has been shown through research to be less likely to get themselves into serious trouble. Teens that have had the rules and expectations clearly outlined are less likely to go to the same extremes as their peers when presented with the opportunity to break those boundaries.

How do I approach my teen about drug use?

One of the best ways to be ready for anything is through preparation. You wouldn’t just show up to a workplace expecting an interview with the CEO without having planned it first, right? The conversation about drugs with your teen can seem like a daunting task but can only be made worse if you spring it upon them out of the blue. It will also likely make your teen feel defensive and attacked especially if they aren’t involved in drug use or alcohol use. Instead of nervously and abruptly jumping into the conversation to get it over with approach your teen and plan it. Get you and your child on the same page by saying something such as, “Let’s have a talk about drugs and drinking this week. You aren’t in trouble. I would just like us to discuss where we stand and any of your concerns about it” It allows your teen to be prepared to listen and won’t create an environment where they are defensive or on edge. It also gives you teen time to think of any questions, concerns or problems they may already be facing that they felt they couldn’t bring up to you before this conversation.

When the talk arrives you’ll want to clearly list your rules as well as the consequences for breaking those rules. Don’t beat around the bush, give your teen finite information so that there is no confusion and they understand where you stand on the subject. Giving your child a full understand of what you can expect can actually help them avoid the peer pressure of drinking if they can say to their friends that their parent(s) don’t allow them to do that behavior.

substance abuse counselor sherman oaks ca

Steps to a successful talk

Another rule to follow when talking to your child is to explain your reasoning about why you think underage drinking is dangerous and inappropriate. A lot of teenagers are given rules with the understanding that it’s “Because I said so” or “because I’m the adult”. You have to treat your child as the adult they will one day become. Level the playing field during the conversation and allow them to talk with you, don’t just talk at them. You have to explain your ideas about drugs and drinking as well as explain the dangers of such. This also means being reasonable in your expectations. For example, most all adults and parents would tell their child to avoid heroin as all costs if their child encounters it. That same party or situation where heroin is involved may also include marijuana. While one is certainly more harmful than the other it’s best to impress upon your child that no matter the drug, there is still the consequence of impairments and impaired judgement which can lead to trouble.

During your conversation you want to make sure it starts conversational. Allow your teen to add their thoughts in, ask questions and speak openly. By showing your teen respect and treating them as the adult you hope they one day will become you are showing them that not only do you expect them to obey your rules for your sake but also as a responsible young adult.

If you feel that you teen is involved in drug use and would benefit from group therapy or solo counseling sessions you can rely on our substance abuse counselor Sherman Oaks Ca at Insight Treatment. Call us at (888) 295-9995 to learn more about our admissions process as well as the programs that we have available.