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A Parent's Checklist for Talking to Teens about Drugs & Alcohol

Talking to Teens About Substance AbuseMany signs of alcohol or drug abuse, in isolation, may be just normal adolescent or teenager behavior. If a child or teen you know is exhibiting a combination of these signs, substance abuse may be at the heart of the problem.

Am I encouraging open dialogue?
If you've been openly talking to your child throughout the years, you've formed a strong foundation for having an open dialogue with your teenager. However, as adolescents mature, even the most communicative ones can close up. As the parent, it's up to you to keep all lines of communication open and non-judgmental.

Am I setting aside one-on-one bonding time?
Sometimes your child needs to be reminded that despite the preoccupations of every day life for the both of you - work, school, after school events, siblings, and family obligations - that they still matter and are being listened to. Try to get some one-on-one time with each of your children.

Am I discussing the dangers of drugs and alcohol in a way that places importance on the topic?
It's a tough subject, and sometimes it's even harder to get conversation time with your children. Having a quick conversation in between texts or in the car on the way to soccer practice doesn't always signal the gravity and importance of the topic.

Am I monitoring and communicating more?
Parents walk a fine line between 'snooping' and checking in on their child. As a parent, you have every right to know what's going on in your child's life - from who they're interacting with and where they're going to what they're doing. Kids who are not monitored are four times more likely to use drugs than those whose parents monitor their activities.

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