Have You Talked to Your Child About Drug and Alcohol Use and Abuse?

It can be a hard subject to bring up, but talking to your children about drinking and drugs is important – it’s a conversation all parents need to have.

There’s little doubt that alcohol and drug abuse is rampant in our society. Your children will probably be exposed to drugs and alcohol at a younger age than you think. There are many consequences that can occur from using and abusing drugs and alcohol – from being suspended from school, to car accidents and unwanted (and often dangerous) sexual encounters. Not to mention the perils of addiction, which often begin in the teenage years. That’s why it’s important to spell out the family’s rules on these matters and the specific consequences if they are broken. Most experts agree that kids tend to be safer if parents set definable limits.

To help encourage safe practices when their teenage children are socializing, many parents offer an “amnesty policy” that allows their teens to call them at any time and get a ride home if they have had too much to drink or do not have a designated driver. Many parents are also encouraging the use of ride-sharing apps like Uber to keep their teenagers safe when they are out at night. Some families are starting to use the “X-plan,” developed by Bert Fulks. This plan allows a teen to text the letter “X” to a family member any time they feel they are in an uncomfortable or dangerous social situation. As soon as possible, the parent calls the teenager’s phone and pretends that something has happened at home and they need to get ready to get picked up by them ASAP. The “X-plan” conveniently gives teenagers a way out of tough situations without opening them up to social ridicule. It’s important to note that parents should not pass judgement or pry into the incident if their teen uses the “X-plan.” It’s up to the teenager to decide how much information they want to share.

As the parent of a teenager, you should also keep an eye out for changes in behavior or mood, which can be an indication of drug and alcohol use or abuse, as well as a sign of depression. Also, do not be afraid to seek the advice of a professional therapist if you feel you can’t handle your child’s problems alone. Most importantly, whatever difficulties your teenager might be dealing with, make sure they know that the lines of communication with you are always open.

Have You Talked to Your Child About Drug and Alcohol Use and Abuse?

About Leslie Bourne, PhD

Dr. Leslie Bourne almost became a lawyer instead of a doctor. “I went to Cornell University as an undergraduate because they had a good law school there. However, I took a great course in psychology in my junior year and decided that’s what really interested me. So I decided to change course and go into the field of psychology.”

In her work as a behavioral psychologist, Dr. Bourne always respects the patient and tries to...

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