Expert advice on communicating with your teenagers about drug abuse

This blog post is a reprinting of an article in ExpertBeacon under the “Raising Teens” section featuring Josephine Healy, primary therapist at Lighthouse Recovery Institute in Delray Beach, Florida. Lighthouse Recovery Institute ( is a true gender specific addiction treatment center offering long term treatment services.

In the post, Ms. Healy discusses several important “Do’s and Don’t’s” for parents dealing with the difficult situation of talking with their teenagers about drug and alcohol use and abuse. The following is the reposting of the article:


Expert advice on communicating with your teenagers about drug abuse

Many parents avoid talking to their teenagers about drug use and abuse because they fear an awkward conversation or don’t know the best way to approach the subject. However, especially in today’s society, this conversation is more important than ever. The following tips can make this conversation easier to have.



Do keep it honest

Honesty is always the best policy when speaking to teens–especially regarding sensitive subjects, such as addiction history in the family. Parents should educate teens on the history of addiction and outline the consequences of use.


Do communicate openly

If you have family members who have overcome any kind of addiction, meaning they have obtained and sustained recovery from addiction, open a line of communication between your teen and these family members. This line of communication can facilitate a non-biased and non-judgmental resource for a teen to communicate with regarding substance abuse topics.

Oftentimes, when teenagers (or adults) have a person to talk to who has experienced a hardship first hand, it is much easier to communicate openly and honestly without judgment.


Do utilize resources

Self-help groups and addiction treatment centers can provide resources for teens regarding substance abuse. In addition, youth prevention groups, such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), can be extremely helpful.


Do show your support

Ensure your teenager that, as a parent, you are coming from a loving and caring place. And if your teen is battling a personal addiction, be sure your teen understands that you will be there to support him/her on the road to recovery.


Do set limits

It is vital to set boundaries regarding expectations of behavior with your teen. Be sure to always stick to these boundaries.



Do not assume behaviors are normal

If a teen appears to be exhibiting a behavior associated with drug use, or tends to experiment more than other teens, talk to a mental health professional or other parents to educate yourself about the way your teen is acting.


Do not go back on your word

Once you have set boundaries with your teen, stick to them. Setting limits is the key to a healthy relationship.


Do not believe you can control everything

Being overbearing and controlling can create a disconnect in a relationship, which will decrease the chances of your teen asking for help if he/she is abusing substances. Recognize that, as a parent, you are only human and cannot control the actions or behaviors of others.


Do not take responsibility for all of your teen’s decisions

As a parent, you can educate your teen on right and wrong. If a teen makes a poor decision or experiments with drugs, it does not necessarily mean it is a reflection of you as a parent.


Do not allow drinking or drugs in your home

If there are minors drinking in your home, you are responsible because you are an adult. Educate yourself on your legal rights and responsibilities.



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These tips can help provide important guidance for parents. It is essential to take the time to talk to your teen about drug use and abuse. Boundaries are effective when set with loving intentions. And providing consistent messages to teens about addiction can help prevent substance abuse.


For the original blog post, go to

Here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, we offer dual diagnosis treatment services for both adults and teens, so we are extremely familiar with the issues that arise in discussions about drugs and alcohol between parents and their children. These are difficult issues and we are here to help in any possible way.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a drug and alcohol addiction and needs treatment please call us for help. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive addiction treatment in the area. If we aren’t the best fit, we will work with you to find a treatment center that fits your needs. Please call us at (410) 773-0500 or email For more information on all of our alcohol and addiction treatment services and resources, please visit the web site at

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About the Author

Zachary Snitzer

Zach Snitzer is the Corporate Director of Marketing at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center and is responsible for the business development, marketing, branding, public relations and social media strategies of the organization.