How to talk to your son or daughter when you suspect prescription drug abuse

WARNING: The videos are for parents and other adult use only.

"You don't have to say I want you to go into treatment; you just have to say we want you to go to the hospital and let the doctors evaluate you to see if there is a problem."

-Dr. John Knight, Director, Center for Substance Abuse Research at Children's Hospital Boston.

Before approaching your child, talk to a professional for advice. Before your sit down with your child, think about the goal of keeping your him/her safe. If you have a partner, discuss what you will do together beforehand so that you are on the same page. It's important to be united, so you can make it clear that you are, as a family, going to treatment regardless of what your child may say. Highlight your concern and the specific signs and symptoms you have observed.

When speaking with your child, remain non-judgmental. Do not criticize your child or compare him or her to someone else.


  • Let your adolescent/young adult know how much you love them
  • Empathize; listen to them describe their feelings, pressures, and perceptions
  • Gently ask follow-up questions and summarize
  • Guide your child to an understanding of the consequences of drug abuse
  • Make it clear that you and the family will seek professional help

Do not

  • Use loaded or critical language
  • Compare your child to others - either in a positive or negative way
  • Interrupt your child when he or she is genuinely trying to describe current pain, difficulties, or a situation in his or her life

This information is provided by the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services within the Department of Public Health.