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The Climb

Drug Rehabilitation: Talking to Teens About Substance Use Disorder

Jul 11, 2018 9:00:00 AM / by Ascension Recovery Services

Talking about substance use disorder can be uncomfortable for teens and parents. At Ascension Recovery Services, we want to make those conversations about substance use as easy as possible, as well as informative.

Read on to learn more about talking points you should have with your teen and how to have an open conversation.


Substance use disorder (SUD) is a condition when a person’s use of alcohol and/or drug substances leads to impairment, such as health problems, problems at work, home or school.

Addiction is the most severe form of this disorder. Read our in-depth blog on SUD to learn more


There will come a time when teens will be confronted with alcohol or drugs, whether that’s from friends or by their own curious nature.

As parents, you just want your teen to be safe. Teenagers can feel uncomfortable talking to their parents about substance use.

We encourage parents to talk to their teens at an early age. Not talking about substance use can make teens feel guilty about substance use or make them feel that they cannot talk to their parents when an issue arises.

Start the conversation with these tips:

  • Do not talk AT them: Use “I Statements”. An I Statement is when a person talks about themselves instead of talking about the person they are talking to. For example, “You better not use drugs or be drinking because if you do you will throw away your future”, is not an I Statement. That sentence as an I Statement might sound like, “I see great potential in you and I get worried about you when I see how drugs and alcohol may take that away from you.”
  • Be clear on your values: Before speaking to your teen about substance use, think about what your values are. If you waiver on what is acceptable and what isn’t your teenager will see that as a gray area for exploration. Be clear and concise.
  • Practice what you preach: You do not want to tell your teen a value about substance use and then go act in a way that does not support that value.
  • Keep the conversation going: The first talk with your teen about substance use should not be your last. It is important to start the conversation early so your teen knows that you are always willing to talk. Even more importantly, don’t make them feel that it is something they need to hide.
  • Offer support and empathy: Let your teen know that you understand. Teen years can be tough. Acknowledge that everyone struggles, but drugs and alcohol are not a healthy way to solve problems or to create friendships.
  • Remind your teen that you are there for them: Let your teen know that you are there to offer guidance and that it is important to you that they are healthy, happy and make safe choices.


As a parent or guardian, the best thing you can do it equip your teen with the tools to say no.

Below are three talking points your teen can use to say no:

  • Come up with an excuse: “I can’t stay; I have to go meet someone in a few minutes.”
  • Teens could be honest with their friends: “I’m not into that.” “My mom would kill me if she found out,” or, “I would be suspended from the team.”
  • Be confident and give a firm no: “I don’t want to do drugs.”


SUD is not easy to treat. The best care and treatment involves trained professionals. The first step of treatment is recognizing the problem. Once the problem is recognized, the substance can either be slowly withdrawn or stopped immediately.

Here are some options for treatment:

  • Residential programs monitor symptoms and behaviors. In these programs, users will recognize their behaviors and learn how not to use drugs again. This may involve a detoxification.
  • Counseling can be done on the individual or group level. Individual counseling focuses on stopping substance use and developing a recovery plan. Group counseling is often used along with individual counseling and provides a reinforcement for recovery
  • Medication can be used to treat SUD. These medications can reduce cravings and other symptoms associated with withdrawal.


Addiction Intervention

Talking about substance use is an important conversation to have. Your teen may be facing pressure to use drugs or alcohol.

At Ascension Recovery Services, we understand this, and it is okay to ask for help.

We have a team of experts and specialists with years of experience working with individuals struggling with addiction. We offer counseling and addiction services to make sure a loved one can get the help they need.                                   

Have a question about substance use? Give us a call today at: 304-241-4585


Topics: Addiction Recovery

Ascension Recovery Services

Written by Ascension Recovery Services

Ascension Recovery Services is a team of experts and specialists with years of experience working with individuals and organizations aiming to open behavioral health organizations.

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