How To Really Talk To Your Kids About Drugs & Alcohol

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Institute on Drug Abuse. All opinions are 100% mine.

If I’ve learned anything from being a parent, it is that the tough talks are some of the most important ones, especially when those talks include discussions about drugs and alcohol. Because this is such an important topic for our family, we have been talking to our daughters about drugs and alcohol since they were young.

It was one of those things that I tried to work into discussions as soon as they were old enough to understand.  A great resource and reminder each year has been National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW). This is an annual observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to shatter myths about substance use and addiction. This year it will be held January 22-28, 2018, and is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both part of the National Institutes of Health. The week-long observance was launched in 2010 to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens often hear from the Internet, TV, movies, music, or friends.

Since its inception, the number of community-based events held to SHATTER THE MYTHS® has grown dramatically, with more than 2,000 held last January throughout all 50 states and several international sites. These events not only link teens with scientists and other experts, but they also create a safe place for teens to ask questions about drug and alcohol use, without judgment or lectures.

One of the key resources for NDAFW is the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge – a 12-question multiple choice quiz that teens and adults can take to test their knowledge about drugs. We as parents have taken the IQ Challenge and have used the results to start and continue the conversation with our teens about drugs and alcohol.

One thing that this quiz opened our eyes to is that it provided deeper information for us to share with our kids than to just tell them not to take drugs. I personally had no idea how long it takes certain drugs to reach the brain or what are the most common drugs teens use.

Both of those are important for me to talk to my daughters about. I only scored a 50% on the test and that is down from past years. I highly recommend taking the quiz even if you think you already have a good understanding.

Another really valuable tool is the “Family Checkup” resource, which provides parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free.

  1. What to do if your teen has a problem with drugs. I’m hopeful I won’t ever need this help, but it is good to know where to go if I did.
  2. Drugs: Shatter the Myths booklet helps teens and parents alike breakdown some misinformation on the subject.
  3. There is also a timely guide called Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know. With more attention and legalization of marijuana, this is something that I will be referring back to when my girls have questions or when I do.
I think that the biggest takeaway when talking to our teens about drug and alcohol facts is to keep the discussion going. This isn’t a one-time talk; this is something that we need to talk about often and keep the line of communication always open.
How do you have the “tough” talks with your teen?
Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • I, like you, started the discussions early and kept them going whenever there was a chance just like safe sex. My children are now between 24 and 35 and not 1 of the 4 agrees with drugs not even marijuana. Only one drinks. Although, I wish it were 0, 1 is better than 4.

  • My babies are only 3 and 5, but I talk to them about drugs too because now there are some that look like gummy bears and I want my babies to be informed.

  • Drugs and Alcohol is such an important topic on every single family. And talking to your kids about this matter is really hard. Glad I found this post, Ireally learned a lot.

  • Drugs, alcohol is such a sensitive topic. I don’t know how to open this topic to my kids but for sure they will understand whenever I tried to.

  • We pride ourselves on being an open family, no discussion is off the table and we started this young so I am hoping my children veer on the road of caution but hope they would come and talk to us openly about any concerns they have going through those vital growing years 🙂

  • We haven’t had to have that ‘tough talk’, nor do we see it being necessary. We have open communication lines and they regularly ask questions. And we’re an open-book about both subjects!

  • While I dont have a teen I really feel like my parents did a great job. They were very open and honest and we had a veryhonest relationship to talk about things like this.

  • Its so important. It might be something we think that can’t happen to our family or our kids, but really it can happen to anyone. I just always drive home the point that what we put into our bodies we become and drugs and alcohol has never looked good on anyone. But often the peer pressure just does some people in and I’ve got to really talk to my kids about how true friends will not make you do anything you don’t want to do.

  • It’s great that you’re making your kids aware of alcohol and drugs and the impact they can have on your life. I think honesty is the most important policy! I’ll need to check out the family resource you mentioned.

  • It’s great that you’re making your kids aware of alcohol and drugs and the impact they can have on your life. I think honesty is the most important policy! I might take that quiz too; I think it’s important to learn as much as possible.

  • Talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol is just as important as giving them the talk about safe sex. I did not have any issues with my daughter, but me and my husband really had to sit down and have this talk with our sons. You know how awful peer pressure is. I am glad they did not give in to it.

  • educating kids with this kind of important topics is one of the essential topics a parent needs to discuss among their kids and its not a bad idea to try the quiz too for a broader info.

  • Drugs and alcohol are important topics to explain to your kids as early as you can. Although we should start discussing it as early as possible we should also explain if they get into a situation that there is help out there. It is just as important to teach them that if they need help to ask for it.

  • This is SUCH an important and heavy topic that nobody wants to talk about but it needs to be discussed in every family, school, relationship, and community! Thank you for being that voice!

  • I have just kept an open communication policy in my home so that they feel comfortable talking to me about anything and everything. It’s not an easy topic for some famlies and even with the openness, the kids are not always forthcoming with information. I am glad that you shared this for other parents out there 🙂

  • I have tried to be very open with my teens about drugs and alcohol from the time they hit middle school. I think that those conversations need to start happening before it’s too late. We seem to be able to speak openly about a lot of tough topics so hopefully, we can navigate the teen years safely.

  • I’ve always just tried to be open and answer questions as they come. Our girls recently had this topic again in health class so we had many discussions about it again. Always good to keep the conversation going, not just one big talk.

  • This is definitely a difficult subject to discuss, yet also an extremely crucial conversation to have. We are very open with our children and they understand they can always come to us with any question or problem, but I realize that is not always enough. I plan to take things a step further and look into the awesome resources you shared.

  • This is not a conversation I want to have. But I just try to answer questions as they come at this point. And be open when he has something he wants to say

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