Starting the Conversation: Talking About Substance Use Prevention with Kids

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As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s development. Whether you realize it or not, your kids are always watching and listening. They base a lot of their decisions on what they see, hear, and are taught by you. Making substance use prevention a regular part of conversation and modeling healthy behaviors is essential. It’s almost Red Ribbon Week, so get the discussion started.

Keep the Conversation Going

Talking about drugs and alcohol should not be a once-a-done conversation; it should be an ongoing discussion. Learning takes repetition. Use teachable moments to bring up substance use and let your children’s questions and answers guide the way. When you’re watching television or a movie, talk about the character’s choices and their consequences. Do they try to make drinking or smoking look cool? What makes it unhealthy and dangerous? The same goes for stories you hear on the news or things you see out in the community. Talk about them.

Set Expectations and Consequences

Let your children know that drug use and underage drinking are not acceptable. Establish clear consequences and be proactive in helping your children stay involved in activities that build their self-esteem and promote healthy decision making. Talk about how drugs and alcohol can lead to risky decisions and legal problems. How it can get them kicked off of sports teams or out of clubs, and they could lose their license. They’ll also face consequences at home.

Be a Positive Role Model

Pay attention to your own behaviors and conversations regarding drugs and alcohol. Show your children that you use these substances responsibly or not at all. Talk about the risks of addiction and how recovery is possible through addiction treatment. Break down stigmas about addiction and clear up any misconceptions your children may have.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, seek treatment. Above It All can help you make your well-being a priority and show your children that change is possible and there are healthier ways of dealing with challenging situations than drugs or alcohol. Start the conversation today.


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration | SAMHSA, Why You Should Talk With Your Child About Alcohol and Other Drugs. April 21, 2014, Accessed April 6, 2016.
  2. NIDA, Starting the Conversation. Accessed April 8, 2016.
  3. NIDA, Talking to Your Kids: Communicating the Risks. Accessed April 16, 2016.
  4. Wilcox, Stephen. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Talking With Children. Accessed April 3, 2016.
  5. The Nemours Foundation, Talking to Your Child About Drugs. November 2014, Accessed April 5, 2016.
Make recovery a part of your discussion by seeking treatment for substance use disorders at Above It All.
(888) 325-1995

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