For many parents of kids approaching or already within their teenage years, one concern that may be present is the growing risk of substance abuse. The teens are when many young people first really become aware of certain illegal or illicit substances that are rife for abuse, including both drugs and alcohol, and how parents approach conversations about these topics can be very important for how they’re viewed by your teen.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re here to provide quality alcohol and drug rehab programs for any and all patients, a group that sadly sometimes does include teenagers. Whether your teen has or hasn’t experienced any issues with substance abuse, or may have friends or acquaintances who have, here are some important tips we often provide to parents on how to approach conversations about this important but often challenging subject.

Give Them Advanced Notice

If you’re planning to approach your teen about substance abuse, it’s important to give them some advanced notice that this conversation will be happening. This way, they won’t feel blindsided by the topic and can maybe even start thinking about any questions they might want to ask you.

Additionally, letting them know ahead of time shows that you respect their autonomy and trust them enough to handle a mature conversation. This can help foster an open and honest relationship that will be key if any future problems regarding substance abuse do come up.

Choose the Right Time and Place

Just as important as letting your teen know ahead of time that you want to talk to them about substance abuse is choosing the right time and place to have this conversation. You’ll want to make sure you have their full attention, so avoid having the talk while they’re trying to do something else or are otherwise distracted.

You’ll also want to select a location where you both feel comfortable talking openly and candidly. This might be in your home or even out at a restaurant or park – wherever you feel will work best for you and your teen.

Be Open and Honest With Them

Once you’re both sitting down to talk, it’s important to be as open and honest with your teen as possible. This means sharing any relevant personal experiences you might have had, as well as being willing to answer any questions they might have honestly and without judgement.

It’s also important to avoid sending them mixed messages. If you share with them that you tried drugs or alcohol when you were younger but tell them not to do the same, they may be confused about your stance on the issue. Be clear with your expectations and try to provide as much accurate information as possible.

Speaking of honesty, one of the single most important areas where it will have an impact in these kinds of conversations: You admitting that despite being older and more experienced than your teen, you don’t actually have all the answers. It’s okay to tell them that you’re still learning too, and that the best way to approach these topics is together. Many teens hate nothing more than being lectured by parents or others who just want to talk down to them; by admitting that you’re still learning, you can show that you respect them as individuals.

Encourage Them to Come to You With Questions or Concerns

While it’s important to have these types of conversations with your teen proactively, it’s just as essential to encourage them to come to you with any questions or concerns they might have about substance abuse. Reassure them that you’re always available to talk and that no question is off-limits.

Additionally, try to make yourself as approachable as possible by keeping lines of communication open at all times. This way, if there are ever any problems down the road, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to you for help.

Give Them Chances to Speak

Once again, these kinds of conversations should never feel like lectures or one-sided diatribes. Instead, they should be open and honest exchanges where both you and your teen have ample opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings.

Make sure to ask your teen questions about their own experiences and views on substance abuse, and really listen to what they have to say. Avoid interrupting them or talking over them, as this can make them feel like you’re not really interested in hearing their side of things.

Ensure an Ongoing Conversation

One of the single most important parts of holding these kinds of conversations with your teen is ensuring that they know this isn’t just a one-time thing. Substance abuse is an ongoing issue, and your conversations about it should be too.

Try to set aside time on a regular basis – whether it’s once a week, once a month, or even just every now and then – to talk to your teen about substance abuse and other important topics. This can help keep the lines of communication open and help you to address any concerns or questions they might have in a timely manner.

It can be tough to know how to approach conversations about substance abuse with your teen. However, by following the tips above, you can encourage an open and honest dialogue that can benefit both you and your child in the long run.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs, speak to the staff at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.