Father and daughter embracing

“Teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.”


“It’s a fact – children whose parents talk to them about the risks of alcohol and other drugs are much less likely to use them.”


Research shows that substance misuse can often be prevented through developing protective factors and addressing risk factors. Though many parents often feel that there is nothing they can say or do that will prevent their adolescents from ‘experimenting’ with substances, it has been proven that by talking with their children about dangers of substance use, parents help shape their children’s attitudes and behaviors.  

Risk Factors for High-Risk Substance Use

  • Family history of substance use/addition
  • Co-occurring mental health diagnosis (anxiety, depression, ADHD) or learning disability
  • Behavioral or impulse control difficulties 
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Environmental factors (substance us in the family or among peers, easy access to alcohol or drugs, exposure to media that encourages use)
  • Low academic achievement/low commitment to school 
  • Limited connectedness to healthy friends/supports
  • Favorable parental attitudes toward the behavior
  • Age of first use: the younger a youth starts using, the greater the risk of developing an addiction

What Can Parents Do?

  • One of the biggest factors that can influence if youth will use substances is the extent to which they believe the substances might cause harm. Talk to your teen about drugs and alcohol and their harmful effects. Help them to evaluate all the facts.
  • Challenge any inaccurate beliefs that your adolescent may have like “everybody drinks” and “marijuana won’t hurt you”.
  • Set clear limits, expectations and consequences around substance use.  
  • Encourage healthy friendships and youth to explore their interests. 
  • Get to know your adolescent’s friends/friend’s parents. Know who they are spending time with and what activities they are involved in. 
  • Remain involved and engaged in conversation. Try talking about the emotions that are underlying their behavior. 
  • Discuss any concerning changes (shift in peer group, academic performance or behaviors). 
  • Set a healthy example – drink responsibly