How to Have Difficult Conversations With Your Teen About Drugs

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, around one in eight teenagers in the U.S. takes illicit drugs each year.

So, as a parent, it’s natural that you may be concerned about whether your teenager is using drugs.

Having a conversation about drugs with your teen will never be easy. But you can make it a lot less difficult by taking note of the following advice. 

father talking to upset teenage son about a serious topic

Have a General Conversation About Drugs

Even if you don’t suspect your teen is using illicit drugs, it’s a good idea to have a conversation about drugs to ensure your kid makes the right decision should he or she be in a position in which he or she is tempted to take drugs.

Having a conversation about drugs shouldn’t be one-sided. Nor should it be solely about telling your kids to not do drugs.

You should have a frank and open conversation about the subject.

Begin by performing online research to find out what medical professionals say about different types of drugs; which range from drugs that may be illicit in some places and not in others, and which may have health benefits as well as potential negative effects, such as marijuana , to highly dangerous drugs like heroin that do nothing but destroy lives.

The more informed you are on the topic, the easier it will be to have a good conversation about it with your kid.

Make sure you listen to your teen’s views on the topic and ask him or her if he or she has any questions.

Talk When You’re Calm

If you suspect your teenager is using illicit drugs or discover for sure that he or she is using drugs, take a deep breath. The last thing you should do is fly off the handle.

Therefore, make sure you’re in a calm frame of mind before you talk to your kid about the issue.

When you’re calm, your teen is more likely to be calm and talk openly to you about the issue.

Explore the Reasons Why Your Teen Is Using Drugs

When you know your teenager is using drugs, you should try to find out the reasons why.

Your teenager may have simply given in to peer pressure or there could be an underlying reason, such as using the drugs to relieve anxiety and stress.

By being curious rather than condemnatory, you can help your kid feel less judged and he or she is more likely to open up to you.

Some teens will have a limited understanding of why they use drugs, though, so don’t presume your teen isn’t talking frankly to you if your kid says he or she doesn’t really know the reasons behind the drug use.

Let Your Teen Know That Help Is Available

Once you have had a frank and calm conversation in which you have explored the reasons why your kid is using drugs, you should ask your teenager about how often he or she uses drugs.

If you find out that it is a regular thing, you should talk about what addiction means and tell your son or daughter that it would be a good idea to get professional help if you suspect he or she has a substance abuse disorder.

Your son or daughter’s first port of call should be the doctor. Your teenager’s doctor will be able to provide information about available assessments and resources for getting help.

For instance, your kid could benefit from attending therapy sessions or engaging in rehab programs, like those available at

Let Your Teen Know That You Care

Lastly and importantly, ensure you let your teen know how much you care.

The reason you have brought up the conversation in the first place is that you care, not because you are being condemnatory.

The more love and support you give your teen, the easier it will be for your kid to gain the confidence to turn his or her life around.