This blog details information for talking to your teen about drugs and alcohol. As parents, you always want to ensure your teen is safe physically, mentally, and emotionally. You always want to be trustworthy and a safe space for them. Whether you’ve found out they are experimenting, or you want to talk about it before they do, this blog can offer some guidance.
It’s common for teenagers to be curious about drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are displayed in nearly all forms of media, from social media, to movies, to books. They may even hear stories of their peers experimenting and they may want to try it out themselves.
While experimenting can be normal, there are instances where your teen may become dependent on some substance, or use it more routinely after trying it. This could be vaping nicotine, smoking cigarettes or marijauna, drinking alcohol, or using psychedelics or pills, for instance.
Here are 4 tips for talking to your teenager about drugs and alcohol. First, remain open-minded and non-judgemental with them. Second, praise their honesty, and avoid punishing them for it. Third, share your own experience with drugs or alcohol. Fourth, help inform them on how to make healthy decisions.
Parenting therapy in Simi Valley, CA is a great option for parents wanting to understand how to go about these topics in a safe, positive manner. Parents are supported and validated in parenting therapy.
It’s okay to feel that you could use some support as a parent – it is normal and common.
Talking to Your Teenager About Drugs and Alcohol: Remain open-minded and non-judgmental
Remaining open-minded and non-judgmental is not to say that you have to accept the fact your teen is using drugs or alcohol. You do not have to feel okay with it, or that it is acceptable for them to do this. It means that you give your teen a space to share their experience without shutting it down.
You may want to understand why your teen is using substances. Oftentimes, it may go deeper than just wanting to experiment. They may be struggling with depression or anxiety, for example. Because of that, they may use substances to manage their symptoms and cope in an unhealthy way.
When you can understand what’s going on for them, you can move to see how you can help. They may be struggling to cope with the pressure of school performance, or, maybe they struggle with low self esteem, and are having a hard time finding themselves.
Teen therapy in Simi Valley, CA can help teens process their struggles in a safe, private space. It could be that your teen is not fully comfortable sharing certain things with you. By helping them get that support, you are helping them still.
Check out our blog on 5 Tips for Parenting Teenagers!
Talking to Your Teenager About Drugs and Alcohol: Praise honesty and avoid punishment
It could be that you come across your teen’s “stash” of substances. This could look like a secret storage for marijuana or alcohol, for example. You may have found something that your teen was trying to hide from you, or they came home under the influence of something, and it is obvious.
You’ll want to approach this conversation gently, encouraging them to be honest. You have every right to be concerned and worried; however, rather than yelling at them or becoming upset, it’s best to give them a space to share what’s going on. They may hesitate to open up to you, or become irritable and try to walk away.
Encouraging honesty can look like telling them that you know they’re under the influence of something, and that you just want to understand what they might be going through. You aren’t looking to immediately take their phone away or ground them for a month. You’re just looking to have an open conversation and be honest with one another.
If they are open and honest, praise them by acknowledging their courage. “Thank you for having the courage to be honest with me about this. I really appreciate it and care about how you’re doing.” In that moment, your praise will encourage future honesty from them. Understand that punishing them will not prevent further use, but could encourage further hiding and lying about it.
Parenting therapy in Simi Valley, CA can help guide you to the next steps after this conversation. What can you do as a parent to discipline them in a way that helps them grow? You can discuss your current parenting methods, and see what is or what is not working.
When your teen feels that they can trust you, they are more likely to be more honest and open in the future.
Talking to Your Teenager About Drugs and Alcohol: Share your own experience with drugs or alcohol
It could be that when you were their age, you had experiences with drugs or alcohol yourself. Maybe you did not like how you felt when you smoked or drank, or you may have witnessed a friend or family member turn to substances for coping.
Due to this, it’s reasonable if you do not want to see your teen using drugs or alcohol. You may be worried that they’ll go down the wrong path. Sharing your own experience can help them understand where you are coming from and why you are concerned.
By sharing your own experiences, it also normalizes the conversation around drugs and alcohol. You don’t need to walk on eggshells or feel like that conversation is inappropriate.
Check out our blog on 4 Reasons to Start Family Therapy!
Talking to Your Teenager About Drugs and Alcohol: Help inform them on how to make healthy decisions for themselves
You can help inform your teen on how to make healthy decisions for themselves. Peer pressure is common among adolescents. Your teen may have a desire to “fit in” or have trouble saying “no” to these things.
Making healthy decisions for yourself is based on what your needs and wants are. It is also making decisions for the health of your mind and body. Being safe while using substances is a great place to start.
You know that your teen may still have encounters with alcohol or drugs, and it’s important to normalize conversations around drugs & alcohol. Focusing on self-advocacy with them is a great way to begin. Help them understand how to measure their own needs and wants. If friends are pressuring them to drink or smoke more, have them self-assess their limits based on their own bodily cues, values, etc.
This will help your teen in making these decisions for themselves as they get older and find themselves in challenging situations. Do they feel a need or want to drink under certain circumstances, like when they’re bored or feeling out of control? Is it appropriate for them at that moment and within the given context? Will doing this cause harm to their body, such as inducing an uncomfortable experience or negative long-term effects?
At the end of the day, seeking out parenting therapy or family therapy is the best way to go. You can also consider teen therapy as well. These services will help guide you as a parent or family to get where you want to be. Parenting therapy can also answer questions about parenting techniques, help you gain self-awareness, and support you in coping with challenging parenting situations.
Therapy at our office in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home.
By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either.
Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.