Having the Conversation With the Whole Family

Four million teens say they have an older sibling who uses marijuana.

Just over one million teens say they have a younger sibling who uses marijuana.

Source – US Partnership Attitude Tracking Study 2002

As a parent of a child who is using drugs, you may need to enlist the support of your extended family and close family friends. You may also need to discuss the problem with siblings particularly if the siblings are close in age.

Remember younger brothers and sisters tend to follow in their siblings’ footsteps, so it’s critical to include the entire family in your discussion when you set clear rules about staying drug, and alcohol free.

Key Talking Points:

  • Drug and alcohol use by the children and teens are not allowed in this family.
  • There are consequences for bad behaviour in this family. Are you clear about them?
  • If you know that your brother or sister is using alcohol or drugs, we expect you to tell us. This is not “snitching;” rather, it is loving your sibling by not enabling him/her.

We are here to support and protect all our children from danger. That’s what families do for each other.

Having the Conversation With an Adult Influencer

There are many people who influence a teenager’s life and it may be time to enlist their support to deliver or reinforce an anti-drug message. Influencers can be coaches, mentors, faith leaders, scout leaders, etc. They can be important allies for you and your teen.

Key Talking Points:

  • I have a family problem that I need help with. I hope that you’ll be able to give me some advice or direct me to someone who can help.
  • My teen looks up to you as his coach and mentor—is there something you can do to help me get through to him?
  • I need your help with a problem that my child may have, but I need your assurance that my child will not be singled out because I’m telling you about it. Can you give me that assurance?
  • Have you ever had to deal with teen drug use on your team before? How did you handle it in the past?
  • Do you ever talk to your team members/scout group/church group about using drugs or alcohol? If not, would you be willing to talk to them or bring in a community volunteer to talk with them?
  • It would help me if you reinforced what I am trying to teach my child at home—that there is no drug or alcohol use allowed by teens in our family.

Having the Conversation With Other Parents or Friends

All of us need help at some point in our lives. We hope that this section helps you feel more comfortable asking for help from friends or neighbours. Perhaps you’re even close with the parents of your teen’s friends. This is a difficult conversation because everyone has a tendency to want to keep family issues to themselves. By doing so however, you can often miss out on a friend that can assist you — someone who can help you think clearly and offer words of wisdom from their personal perspective. You may already have a trusted friend in mind who can help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for that help when you need it.

Key Talking Points:

  • I have found out that my child has been using drugs and alcohol, and I am taking action with him/her. I have reason to believe that your child was using as well. I am telling you because I know I would want you to tell me if the situation were reversed.
  • I am concerned that our children may be using drugs or alcohol. This is why I suspect it is so. What do you think we can do to help our kids?
  • This is very hard for me to talk about and I ask that you just hear me out. I worry that our kids are using drugs. I have come to you to talk about it, and for us to figure out what to do.
  • I worry that my teen is using drugs or alcohol but I don’t have anything to prove my feeling. Have you ever had any experience with your kids using drugs or alcohol
  • Do you know any resources or places I can go to get help for my teen? I found out that he is using drugs and alcohol and I don’t know what to do.
  • Have you ever had any experiences with this before?