This week is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, which means all across the United States different organizations are working together to raise awareness and education concerning addiction and abuse, especially among teenagers and college students.

For parents, it may be an uncomfortable conversation, or maybe they think there’s no way addiction or substance abuse could ever apply to their own child. The conversations must still be had. 

Parents are the biggest influence on children’s lives. Studies have shown that children who learn about risks of drugs and have discussions with their parents are less likely to use drugs.

Although the topic may be challenging to face, approaching it may prove to be the biggest hurdle. Once the ice has been broken, try to remember to remain calm with your teen, keeping an open mind and engaging active listening. This way your child will be more receptive to what you have to say.

Above all, keep in mind that your child or teenager’s brain is still developing—the adult brain reaches full maturation around the age of 25. With that in mind, understand the emotions that can be triggered on either side of the table when holding heavy conversations like these with your teen. 

Try to stay grounded in the conversation so you do not overreact in response to your child’s emotions or what they are telling you. Do your research and present the facts as calmly as you can. 

These conversations do not have to happen all at once—in fact, they shouldn’t. Gradually discuss these topics with your child and remember to show them your love and support. The bottom line is their health and safety. 

Though the conversations may be difficult and uncomfortable, prevention and safeguarding often starts at home. Keeping a positive attitude and an open heart and mind are two key ways to ensure the conversations are productive and healthy for you as well as your teen. 

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