Cedars-Sinai Blog

Talking to Your Kids About Drugs

An egg in a frying pan representing a brain on drugs.

"This is your brain on drugs."

An egg sizzling in a frying pan symbolized "your brain on drugs" for a generation. The "any questions?" that followed was entirely rhetorical—the end of the discussion.

Now the questions are the beginning of the conversation. So the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (known as Partnership for a Drug-Free America at the time of the original ads) fired up the stove to rework its iconic metaphor last summer—30 years after its debut. And the questions—as the campaign points out—can be tricky.

"Weed’s legal now, right?"

"Did you ever try drugs?"

"Prescription drugs are OK, right?"

The goal of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (January 23-27, 2017) is to counter myths about drug use, alcohol, and addiction by keeping the conversation going. And it’s not always an easy conversation to have. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids offers some strategies for parents faced with tough questions:

  • Keep calm. Remember to breathe and think before responding.
  • Stay open-minded. That your kid is coming to you with questions is good news. If they feel judged, they’re less likely to be receptive or come to you in the future.
  • Skip the lecturing. Try to keep a tone that is honest, open, and positive. Curiosity is a good approach. Ask them what they think and say things like, “Good question. Let's explore that one a little more.”
  • Say thank you. Reassure your kids that you’re a safe person to come to with questions and you're open to providing answers. Begin and end the talk by saying you appreciate their trust.
  • Remind your kid that you care. The main reason you want to be able to discuss these topics: You love your child and want to be able to help them.

You can also offer resources. Not every problem is one a teen is ready to open up about. Consider pointing them to a resource like Teen Line. Teens are available to help their peers through calls, texts, emails, or message boards. Reach Teen Line by calling 310-855-HOPE or 800-TLC-TEEN from 6pm to 10pm PST.