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The Dos and Don’ts of Talking to Your Teen About Addiction

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Most addicts report having used drugs for the first time when they were teenagers. Research shows that there were just over 2.8 million new users of illicit drugs in 2013. That is about 7,800 new users every day. Over half were under 18 years old.

You have a responsibility as a parent to teach, guide, and support your child as they grow and enter adulthood. Unfortunately, drug abuse and addiction are realities in American society, and teens are particularly vulnerable to the pressures and temptations. If you notice signs that your teen is using drugs, you must address it before it gets worse, because untreated addiction only ever gets worse.

It?s easy to jump to conclusions and let your emotions take over, but this kind of confrontation won?t help anyone. To hold a healthy dialogue and help your teen get the addiction treatment they need, consider the following ?Dos? and ?Don?ts.?


  • Choose an appropriate time and place. The best time to discuss your teen?s drug use is when they are sober. Clear your schedule and find a quiet, isolated place to have the conversation.
  • Ask straightforward questions. There is a problem and you need to address it head-on. It?s a tough topic, and you and your teen may both feel uncomfortable at first, but clear communication is the only way to get through this.
  • Listen carefully. Let your child speak. Your teen wants and needs to be heard.
  • Discuss the risks. Remind your teen that they are taking a huge risk by engaging in this kind of behavior. If you have to, do some research ahead of time to learn more about the dangers of using the particular substance your child has been using.
  • Offer complete support. Let your teen know that you love them unconditionally and are willing to support them through all of this. Sometimes that?s all they need to hear to accept help.
  • Discuss possible addiction treatment and detox options. Don?t just talk about quitting, make a plan. Look into addiction treatment facilities and make an informed decision.


  • Start the conversation when they are under the influence. This is when your teen will be least likely to listen and least willing to accept your help. They may not even realize in that moment that they have a problem, nor will they want to stop what they?re doing.
  • Yell or raise your voice. The last thing you want is for your teen to feel attacked or ganged up on. Speak calmly and remind them that you are on their side.
  • Make them feel ashamed. Feelings of shame and guilt are not productive. In fact, it is these negative emotions that may have driven your teen to drug use in the first place.
  • Monopolize the conversation. Again, it is important to let your child speak. This conversation is not about you.
  • Threaten them. Don?t threaten them with punishments and ultimatums. Instead, discuss addiction treatment options together.

Whether it?s cocaine addiction, oxycontin addiction, methamphetamine addiction or something else, a wide variety of addiction treatments are available today. Addiction does not go away on its own and it is your duty as a parent to help and support your child in any way that you can.

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