Tips for Talking to Teens and Young Adults About Drugs During the Holidays

father talking to sonAre your teens or young adults home for holiday break?   

With the stress of school or campus life behind them for a few weeks, this can be a great time for you to talk to them about substance misuse. 

Drug use, overdose deaths, etc., are serious and scary topics. But using scare tactics during your discussion aren’t likely to be effective. 

So, where do you start? A few years ago, Fran Harding, the former Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), gave us a few tips on how you can start the discussion.


Tip 1:  Reference the News 

“Bring up news stories they may have heard about as a way to broach this topic in a way that resonates with them and can open up a discussion about the health and safety issues around the use of opioids,” Fran wrote. 


Tip 2:  Let Them Know Substance Misuse Can Escalate 

Here’s a fact: A large percentage of heroin use follows misuse of prescription drugs. 

So, let your teen or young adult know that “experimenting” or “occasionally” misusing substances can potentially lead to other drugs or lifetime addiction. 


Tip 3: Talk Consequences 

College is a time of fun, friendship, and growth. In fact, a lot of people consider college years the best time of their lives.  

“Let your young adults know that you want them to have a long, happy, and successful life, and that using heroin or misusing prescription opioids could permanently derail their dreams and plans for the future,” Fran wrote. 


Tip 4: Talk to Other Parents and Professionals 

If you’re having a hard time having this discussion, know that you’re not alone and you can reach out to the community for help. 

“Talk to others who can play a role in prevention,” Fran wrote. 

“For instance, speak with other parents, or advocate for prevention efforts at your young adult’s school or university. College campuses strive to create health supporting environments in order to support student success.” 

Additionally, your local medical professionals may be able to shed light on substance misuse. 

“On the home front, you can ask your family physician or dentist to discuss the dangers of opioids during your young adult’s next physical exam or doctor’s appointment.” 


These conversations, while not always easy, are important step to building dialogue around substance misuse.  


Read Fran’s article in its entirety here: