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Talking to your Child About Drugs and Alcohol

Connect & Protect - Having the Conversation

Talking to Teens About Substance AbuseWe understand that it's scary to think about the extremely widespread use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs among today's adolescents. As Illinois' largest provider of substance abuse treatment, Gateway Treatment Centers know firsthand the warning signs as well as treatment for the many drugs your child may come in contact with during adolescence.

Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to combat a child's drug and alcohol use. But just figuring out what to say can be a tough challenge. The most important fact to remember is, you do have influence over your child's choices and they are looking for support and guidance when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

Tips for Engaging in Conversation

  • When you talk with your child about drinking and drug use, listen and respect what they have to say. These are conversations you'll want to have many times over the years and if they shut down initially, it may be more difficult to get them to open up later. Just listen.
  • Make clear your expectations to your child - that drinking and using drugs is unacceptable. Let them know your expectations will be enforced.
  • Teach your child about the dangers of drinking and drug use. Discuss laws, repercussions and health related outcomes. Drugs and alcohol can have serious affects on the brain and body functions.
  • Know what's going on in your child's environment. Find out what's going on at school. If it means having conversations with teachers, coaches and counselors about drug and alcohol use, take this important extra step. When you do so, relevant and informed discussions that ultimately demonstrate to your teen how much you care, will follow.

First, as experts in the field of drug and substance abuse in teens - we can tell you do not be lulled into thinking it can't happen at your child's school or within your child's group of friends. 34.8% of 12th graders reported using marijuana in the past month and over 5% of teens aged 12 to 17 who have engaged in illicit use of substances such as prescription drugs, inhalants and even heroin. 1 in 5 teens in America has tried 'huffing' - inhaling the fumes from everyday items like nail polish remover, hair spray and cooking spray. The fact is, a wide variety of drugs and alcohol are available to your child if they want them.

If you have questions or are concerned about a teen or adolescent you know, contact Gateway and let us provide you with the answers you need.

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