Is It Even Worth Talking to Teens About Drugs?

Father and son

Parents face a veritable plethora of challenges and scrutiny when it comes to raising their kids. This scrutiny comes from their kids, from other parents or peers, and from the parents themselves. Sometimes, it can seem like there is no right answer here, no clear way to parent a child.

All too often, parents try to force their teen kid to rise up to their level, adult-to-adult, rather than just meeting them at their level.

When it comes to ensuring one’s kids don’t go on to abuse drugs and alcohol in adolescence or young adulthood, finding the right technique can be a stumbling block for parents. They can feel tongue-tied, unsure of what to say, or unsure of how to approach this very delicate yet very necessary conversation. A lot of times parents can feel like the topic of recreational drug use is so controversial and delicate that they should just leave it be, but that is never the right answer either.

Talking to Your Kids About Drug and Alcohol Use

Confronting teen drug and alcohol use can be delicate, sometimes downright hard. Listed below is some advice on how to talk to your kids about drugs:

  • It is important to better understand where they are coming from by meeting them where they are at developmentally. All too often, parents try to force their teen kid to rise up to their level, adult-to-adult, rather than just meeting them at their level. If parents would meet their teen at a point of understanding that the teen was more agreeable with, this would be far more effective.
  • The “teen mind” is nowhere near on the same level of understanding as an adult’s. The number one mistake that parents make in trying to confront their teens is they expect their teen child to think on the same level as the parent. This isn’t going to happen. Parents should put their thinking on the same level as the teen’s (considering teen hormones, teen angst, teen priorities, teen rebellion, and all the other aspects that influence teen thinking). Parents should approach teens with a mindset as close to the teen’s as they can get, and then simply try to encourage more positive behavior.
  • Parents should be very factual and scientific about teen behavior and the importance of staying away from drugs and alcohol. Instead of making everything about the teen’s behavior and how they are “bad” or “no good,” make it more about the physiological and physiological changes they are going through as they transition to adulthood. Parents can explain the changes a teen’s brain is going through and how that could make them more likely to slip into drug use or addiction. A more scientific, biological approach to an anti-drug and alcohol lecture is going to have a far better impact on teens than an emotional, authoritative lecture will.
  • Don’t forget that it is in a teen’s nature to desire to step out and push limits. While this might cause parents to lose sleep at night, they need to remember that what their teen is going through is totally natural. Rather than trying to stop these habits from occurring, parents should be more interested in providing alternative activities that are equally exhilarating, such as exciting hobbies.

Parents face challenge after challenge in raising children. This is all a part of the package. The reward at the end of the challenge is happy, healthy, successful, contributing sons and daughters who live long and happy lives.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.