Information for Parents

parent speaking to teenagerWhat are some things I might want to consider when approaching my student?

  • Act on signs you see: If there are signs (empty bottles, signs of intoxication, erratic behavior), ask about rather than ignore the signs. Set aside time, have some resources available, be willing hear them without defending yourself against accusations (you don't have to agree, just listen).
  • Don't be an enabler: Often times we end up supporting a person's drinking/drug use by covering for them in some way (e.g. loaning money, covering their schedule, rescuing them from the consequences of their behavior, etc.). Although we feel like we are helping, this frees their time and resource to pursue alcohol or drug use.
  • Don't fool yourself that the problem's solution is simple and painless: If your student is using it will be a hard road. Steps will need to be taken to help them find ways to decrease or quit using, restructure their peer circle, and their idea of what recreational activities might consist of. They will need a considerable amount of support from you through this process so please be patient.
  • Don't approach them when you know there is a high likelihood of you becoming angry: try to find a time when you can sit down with them without restraints.
  • Don't load on the guilt: most likely they have not come to you because they already feel some guilt and/or shame. By loading it on more they might become resistant to allowing you to help.
  • Don't try to "squeeze in" a conversation about alcohol or drug use. Instead, approach them when you both have down time and are relaxed. Then get their perspective on their use.
  • Stay positive! Responding negatively will likely shut down any communication.
  • Ask open-ended questions. Avoid questions that are easily answered with a "yes" or "no"
  • Discuss the facts about use: find out information about how the drugs they are using might be affecting them cognitively, physically, and emotionally and be willing to talk about your family history of use.
  • If underage, collaboratively generate reasons not to drink or use.
  • If of age, generate ways to drink responsibly.
  • Be prepared to hear things that may be uncomfortable or upsetting and resists the urge to lecture or scold their behavior. Maintain your composure and acknowledge how you feel in a calm, constructed manner.