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Talk Early, Talk Often: Car Talk

Use "natural" opportunities such as driving (or riding) somewhere or during dinner to start open, honest conversations about drinking and other drug use.

Seek discussion, don't lecture! Share your own experiences and opinions and how they have changed over the years. As you are willing to open-up and share experiences, so will your child.

Here are some tips for starting the conversation:

  • Listen before you talk. Encourage conversation. As parents we want to have "all the answers". And, sometimes we are so anxious to share our wisdom - or our opinion - that we don't take the time to listen. For kids, knowing that we are really listening is the most important thing we can do to help.

  • Talk to your child and ask open-ended questions. Talk to your child regularly - about their feelings, friends, activities, etc. As much as you can, try to avoid questions that have a simple "yes" or "no" answer.

  • Be involved. Get to know your child's friends and continue to educate your child about the importance of maintaining good health.

  • Set expectations, limits, and consequences. Make it clear that you do not want your child drinking and using other drugs and that you trust them not to. Talk about possible consequences, both legal and medical, and be clear about what you will do if the rules are broken.

  • Be open and honest. Care about what your child is going through as they face and make decisions that will affect their lives now and for the future.

  • Be positive. Many parents have discovered that talking about these issues with their children has built bridges rather than walls between them and have proudly watched those children learn to make healthy, mature decisions on their own.

  • Family History. Both research and personal experience have clearly documented that addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that can be linked to family history and genetics. If you have a family history of problems with alcohol and other drugs, be matter of fact about it as you would any other chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.

Drug use is very risky for young people and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and other drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That's why it is so important to help your child make smart decisions about alcohol and other drugs.

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