Talk to Your Kids about
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs
to your child about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Knowing the
facts will help your child make healthy choices.
do I say?
When you talk about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs:
do I start talking with my child?
- Teach your child
- Give your child
- Find out what your
child already knows
- Be prepared to
answer your child’s questions
- Talk with your
child about how to say “no”
Start early. By preschool, most children have seen adults smoking cigarettes or
drinking alcohol, either in real life, on TV, or on the Internet. Make sure
your child knows right from the start that you think it’s important to stay
safe and avoid drugs.
are more reasons to start the conversation early:
do I need to know about prescriptions and other medicines?
- Many kids start
using tobacco by age 11 and are addicted by age 14
- Between ages 9 and
13, kids begin to think that using alcohol is okay
- Some children are
already abusing drugs at age 12 or 13
When you talk to your child about the dangers of drugs, don’t forget about
drugs that may already be in your home.
Prescription or over-the-counter (OTC)
drug abuse is when a person:
- Takes too much of a
- Uses a drug when
it’s not needed
- Takes a drug
prescribed to someone else
not taken safely, prescription and OTC medicines can be just as addictive and
dangerous as other drugs. Make sure to talk to your kids about the dangers, and
store medicines in a locked cabinet.
do I need to talk to my child?
Research shows that kids do listen to their parents. Children who learn about
drug risks from their parents are less likely to start using drugs.
kids choose not to use alcohol or drugs, they are also less likely to:
- Have serious
trouble in school
- Get hurt in a car accident
- Be a victim of
- Have a problem with
addiction as an adult
you say nothing, your child may think its okay to use alcohol and other drugs.
Start to talk with your child about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs today.
Talk with your child early and often.
Start having conversations about your values and expectations while your child
is young. Your child will get used to sharing information and opinions with
you. This will make it easier for you to continue talking as your child gets
Here are some tips:
your child the facts.
- Use everyday events to start a
conversation. For example, if you see a group of kids smoking, talk about
how tobacco hurts the body.
- Give your child your full attention.
Turn off the TV, radio, cell phone, and computer, and really listen.
- Try not to “talk at” your child.
Encourage your child to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer to a
question, look it up together.
Your child needs to know how using tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can hurt the
body and cause problems at home and in school. Kids who know the facts are more
likely to make good choices.
clear rules for your child.
Not wanting to upset their parents is the number one reason kids give for not
using drugs. Your child will be less tempted to use tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
if you explain your rules clearly.
are some things to keep in mind when you talk to your child:
your child tools to say “no.”
- Explain that you
set rules to keep your child safe
- Tell your child you
expect her not to use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
- Let your child know
what will happen if he breaks the rules
- Praise your child
for good behavior
Kids say that they use alcohol and other drugs to “fit in and belong” with
other kids. Talk to your child about how to say “no.” Your child can make a
plan for when other kids offer tobacco, drugs, or alcohol.
a good example.
help if you need it.
- If you smoke, try
- If you drink
drink too much or too often
- If you use drugs, find a treatment program near you
prescription and over-the-counter medicines safely
- Never drink or use
drugs and drive
If you think your child may have a drug or alcohol problem, get help. Don’t
Drug and alcohol assessments for teens are now covered under the Affordable
Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your
insurance plan, your child may be able to get an assessment at no cost to you.
with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan.
National Health Information Center
P.O. Box 1133,
Washington, DC 20013-1133