Super Power Your Parenting
Talking Points for Starting the Conversation with your Child
Question you can ask your kids:
- Do they ever talk to you about (heroin, prescriptions etc.)…at school?
- Does anyone in your class…?
- I have been noticing something (on the news, on the radio, on social media, in the neighborhood, etc.) that I want to talk with you about.
- Do you know anyone who uses heroin? What do you think about heroin? Is it easy to get? What about prescription drugs or other substances? After asking some neutral questions, ask if s/he has even tried such substances. Ask if s/he would be comfortable sharing that information with you.
- Be straightforward about what you have heard is going on in school and/or the community.
- Ask if s/he is seeing/hearing this as well. It is good for the young person to realize that parents talk to one another.
- It is helpful if you ask specific questions rather than general questions, as it shows that you are aware and interested in what is going on in his/her life.
- If a substantial change (in friends, habits, hobbies, academic performance, etc.) is evident, address it directly. Talk in a straightforward way about what you are noticing, and ask why these changes are happening. Avoid accusations.
- It’s important for young people to understand the extensive use of prescription opioids and heroin and how it impacts the body/brain. it is also key to discuss what conditions might exist that put people at risk for drug use, abuse and addiction.
The questions will change, but keep talking!
Elementary School Age Tips
Having this important discussion early is important for prevention. For this age group focus on prevention of accidental ingestion and proper medication administration (including vitamins, vaccines, etc.).
- Medicine is intended to be helpful and can be used when your doctor, healthcare professional, or parent/guardian provide it to you.
- Some medications look like candy, teach your children to spot the difference and make sure your meds are secured.
- Sometimes a doctor will prescribe a medicine for you if you are sick. The medicine should only be used by you.
- Sharing medicine can be very dangerous, even if it’s from your family’s medicine cabinet. "Why do you think sharing medicine can be dangerous?" Sharing medicine can be very dangerous even if it's from a friend.
- Open ended questions will give you a general idea about what they think about drug use.
Middle School / Under 14
This can be the age when young people start experimenting with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Research suggests that a person’s brain is not fully developed until age 25. Brains that are not fully developed as in the case of children and adolescents, are more susceptible to long-term damage from alcohol and drugs. Decision-making can be developmentally influenced due to the fact that the pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for reasoning and logic is still developing.
- What have you seen or heard about this substance (in school, community, media, online)?
- Do you worry about anyone you know at school or at home who uses alcohol or other drugs?
- Why is smoking, drinking, and drug use destructive for teens specifically? Why is smoking, drinking and drug use harmful for anyone?
- Why do you think some teens drink, smoke, or do drugs even though they know it’s bad for them?
- How do you think a person’s decision to use drugs and alcohol would impact his/her relationship with parents, siblings, friends, etc.?
High School / College Age
For this age you can use a statistic specifically relating to them such as: Did you know that "doctor prescribed opioid use before high school graduation increases the risk of future opioid misuse after high school by 33%"?
Here are some questions you can use to jump start the conversation with your high school or college age child:
- "What do you expect to happen if you use a substance?"
- What do you think would help make people NOT want to use drugs or drink?
- Do you think alcohol and marijuana can lead to other drug use?
- What do you think people who are addicted to heroin started using first?
- Do you see alcohol and marijuana as less dangerous than street drugs? What about prescription medications? What is it about these items that makes you think that?
- Do you think it would be hard to be a teenager and not use alcohol or marijuana recreationally? Why or why not?
- Why do you think young people who abuse drugs and alcohol face legal consequences?
- Do you believe those legal consequences encourage or inhibit young people from seeking help?
- Avoid combative phrases that may encourage teens to hide misuse to seek approval.
Want More information?
- Medicine Cabinet Brochure
- Grandparents Guide
- Pharmacy Flyer
- Parents Final
- Text to Prevent
- Is Your Medicine Cabinet Safe?
More Education links
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Combat Addition
- US Department of Disease Prevention and Health Promoton
- Monitoring the Future
- Partnership for Drug Free Kids
- US Office of the Surgeon General Turn The Tide RX
- DEA Operation Prevention
- US Department of Health and Human Services Opioid Prevention Services