Talk Early and Often
You want to protect your kids from the harsh realities of life, but addiction can happen to anyone. It’s important to make sure they understand how dangerous these drugs can be and how quickly addiction can happen. You can talk to your kids at a level that’s right for their age.
There is no “perfect time.”
Use downtime, like driving in the car together or waiting at an appointment. Take advantage of everyday moments to start the conversation: a news story about opioid addiction, a TV show, or something that happened in your community. You can ask, “Do you have any questions about that?” to get started.
There is no “perfect talk.”
Simply talking to your kid helps protect them. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Emphasize the danger of prescription pain meds.
- Using prescription drugs is illegal if you take them without a prescription.
- Even if you have a prescription for pain meds, they can still be unsafe, and they’re addictive.
- You can overdose on prescription pain meds, just like with heroin.
Remind them that you care.
“I care about you and want you to be safe and healthy.”
Make them feel as comfortable as possible about being honest with you.
Offer to be an excuse for your kids if they are offered drugs. They can say something like: “No way, my mom/dad will ground me for life!”
Offset feelings of insecurity, doubt and pressure that creep in during puberty by offering a lot of positive comments.
Keep it focused on them!
Don’t talk about your own substance use –if you’ve used any. Sharing details about past (or present) use can undermine your message.
One talk isn’t enough— especially for teens. Your child might not seem like they’re listening, but keep talking. It could take a few conversations to have an impact, but you will make a difference.