Open talk with your adolescents about substance abuse

substance abuse

Adolescence is an age that requires parents to become friends and guardians to shape them into better human beings. The friendly chats and conversations will help get insights about the adolescents’ activities and also their mindset towards worldly things. It is common to see adolescents fall prey to substance abuse. The kids who start substance abuse show physical, social, and behavioral change. They will have a new set of friends. They lack concentration on activities that were once their favorite. As your teen is growing into young adults check for signs of drug abuse, here we list you some signs and symptoms:

  • Smell of alcohol, smoke or chemicals
  • Obvious intoxication or bizarre behavior
  • Violent actions
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Runaway behavior
  • Suicide attempts
  • Possession of drug 

One of the reasons for substance abuse is its use at home itself. If the teen has seen parents or siblings using substance, then it is more likely for him also to use it. Substance abuse has been linked genetically and it can be passed to generations.

A key to healthy discussion is to value their expressions and opinions, if you reject their expressions, they will not find any point in conveying messages. Basic questions about substance abuse can help the child realize how and why he got into this habit. Questions like “what is substance?”, “Is it a naturally obtained substance without chemicals?”, “does it have a good effect on the body?”, “what are the long-term effects of this natural substance, should it be used for long?”

The conversation should be initiated considering space and time. A child will talk openly when he is not under direct pressure and eye contact. The conversation should be very friendly without any warnings and aggressive to get honest answers. The right messages from the child can help you in taking to the safe path. If the child has agreed to have used substances try to analyze the cause. Maybe some trauma, depression, anxiety, might have been the cause for it. Work on to see what is bothering him the most. In some cases, the child will not have any reason to use the substance. A professional can give support and guidance for behavioral change.

Healthy discussion and counseling sessions by parents about substance abuse and its potential effects will be very helpful for the adolescent. Adolescents are prone to develop several bad habits; vigilant parents can help such children to get to the right path. Define clear rules and consequences of breaking such rules. Reward the child when he is trying to be good. Don’t be scared if the adolescent is aggressive in the initial days.


Written by Renu Goyal

A Child Psychologist, founder of KIDicious – Learning Differently, a child psychological therapy clinic based in Delhi. Have written various articles relating to Child Psychology in magazines like Meri Saheli, Responsible parenting, Psyinsight etc. Presented many papers in national and international conferences.


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