Tips To 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.

Being a parent means having talks that are not necessarily fun, but definitely necessary. Now that I have two teenagers, I seem to be having more and more of these talks, although I started them when the girls were really little… especially when it comes to substance abuse. 

As soon as the girls could talk, we started talking about drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. I wanted them to know that they can always talk about these things to me and Pete, and what was acceptable and not in our family. We set expectations from the very beginning and we continue to add to our talks as they get older. 

I also keep educated over new threats to the girls, like new designer drugs, and I read as much as I can about them and ways to educate the girls to protect themselves. Recently I learned about the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the resources they have available to help. A great jump start is National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM. It’s an annual, week-long observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to SHATTER THE MYTHS about substance use and addiction. 

This year it will be held January 25-31, 2016.

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 1,500 held last January throughout all 50 states and several international sites. Events link teens with scientists and other experts, creating 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. Parents can take the IQ Challenge and use the results to start a conversation with their teen about drugs and alcohol. The “Family Checkup” resource, which provides parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free is also a really good tool. It talks about ways to keep the communication open and how to encourage positive behavior which is a great tool in preventative action. Ashley’s workout schedule is also good for preventative action. We know that this is a positive force in her life and that is important at this age.

I myself took the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge  and I scored pretty well on it. The way the questions were phrased gave me some really interesting new things to talk to the girls about. I hadn’t really talked to the girls in depth about inhalants, and because of the quiz, I decided I needed to talk to them more about it and how something so common in our home can be so dangerous if used this way. 

They also have a drug and alcohol facts sheet so that we can stay up to date on the new names of different drugs, among other things. There were a lot of things on the sheet that I didn’t know. I had heard of bath salts, but not the different names for them like Bloom or Cloud Nine. 

Take the IQ Challenge!

I really thought that I knew a lot to help educate my girls on drug and alcohol abuse, but I learned even more, and I feel better prepared to help keep them safe. They also have resources for parents if their children already have a problem with drugs.

Do you speak regularly with your children about drug and alcohol abuse?

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 have been wondering about this. My oldest is 11, but I was wondering if maybe he was too young. I suppose it’s never too early, though, right?

  • This is wonderful to know as a parent. It is so important to talk to kids about this early. And it is even better that there are more resources to help parents approach the subject. I need to check out the quiz. Thanks for sharing.

  • Talking to kids about drug and alcohol abuse is so important. You want to empower them to make good decisions.

  • This is a great post. Even though my son will be 20 this year we still talk with him about drugs and alcohol. Reminders never hurt.

  • My Daughter is grown now, but I remember having many a talk with her about drugs. I wasn’t as worried about the alcohol. Maybe I should have been, but everything turned out ok anyway.

  • I speak very regularly to my son about drugs. He’s a years old and it will hopefully never come into his life but if it does I want him to be prepared. We had a family member who was a drug addict and I don’t want him to go through that.

  • It’s easier to be open about drug abuse and alcohol with kids than just warn them about what could happen. I like that you have an fact sheet and it’s good that there’s an IQ test for it too.

  • Great tips! I have spoken openly when they ask and if they see a commercial, I think so far it’s ok at the level, they aren’t weirded out or embarrassed to ask, and neither am I when I answer. Hopefully it continues to be an open line of communication

  • I’m totally going to take the IQ challenge! I want to see how well I score, for sure. Thanks for the great post about a topic that needs to be discussed more!

  • It is so important to keep the communication open about drugs and alcohol from an early age. We’ve had a few family members who have struggled with addiction, so my girls have seen first hand how badly it can mess up your life.

  • my daughter 8 yrs old always ask me a lot of questions, i guess some of them are like why do they drink alcohol if its not good or questions something like that, im proud as a mum that I am able to explain to her everything in a kid way conversation

  • These are really great resources. Such an important topic for parents with young children. My sons are adults but we had many talks when they were growing up and they knew they could ask us anything.

  • We have addressed the issue from time to time and they discuss it in school. Now that my son is getting older we will have to change our discussions based on possible new situations.

  • Such an informative post. Its so important to talk with my kids about this kind of situation.

  • As a parent, this is truly a must. Talking and communicating with your kids regularly is important.

  • That’s smart to keep up to date on drug names and such. I taught a middle school Science class once and the kids laughed when I said a number. Evidently it was slang for marijuana.

  • I have been talking to my kids about this stuff for so long. It’s something I’m very open and honest with them about and they know my feelings on it. They also know when and if the time comes that they are offered any of it or around any of it, the tools to help make smart decisions and choices.

    These are great tips!

  • Definitely an important subject to talk about with your kids. With peer pressure and kids having so much access to T.V. and social media it’s a must to communicate the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

  • It is so important to talk to your kids about these issues. I have been talking to my kids more about drugs and alcohol more now that they are getting a little older.

  • I need to have this conversation with my older son. I had the talks about it with my daughter long ago. She didn’t get caught up in it as a teen. But now that she is an adult she has way more freedom. I just have to trust that she will remember our talks and choose the right path.

  • We talk about this all the time because it is something that can really affect them as they get older. My daughter is in 5th grade and I know that she will have to start dealing with this soon. You can never talk to them about it too much and it is always important to be honest and open with them so they can be the same way with you.

  • These are very helpful resources. When it is time for me to have this talk I will remember these resources. Thank you!

  • My oldest is 8 years old. I do talk to him about drugs and alcohol especially since kids are introduced to it at a young age. Great tips! It is an important discussion to have often with our children.

  • I remember when I was a kid my dad never talked to me about drugs and alcohol. I never got into them either. But I think it’s because I lived a pretty sheltered life. We’ve already started talking to my son about drugs and alcohol because he has asked about alcohol before.

  • When you have teenagers at home, I think it is very much necessary to talk to them about the drugs & alcochol to create some awareness & make sure they are safe enough. At the end of the day we all need a better next generation for sure.

  • It’s always good to remind our kids about alcohol and drugs. Reminders don’t hurt, but not doing so will. Also, it is important to be an example to them.

  • I’m not quite there yet but I literally have NO idea how I’m going to approach it. We don’t drink alcohol my hubby and I, so it’s not like we have opportunities to talk about it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  • This information is very important especially for people like us that have children. Kids usually want to try things simply because they don’t know what it does. Having an open communication with them is really important.

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