Having “The Talk” with Teens

Substance use not broached by all parents even though many kids actually listen

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Parents may feel that what they say to their kids goes in one ear and out the other. But parents may have more influence than they think when it comes to talking with their teens about alcohol and drug use.

A recent national survey asked parents with teenage children how they felt about talking to their kids about smoking, drinking and illicit drug use.

The results of the study showed that one out of every five parents didn’t think that it would make a difference if they talked to their kids about drinking or drug use.

"Talk with your kids about drugs and alcohol."

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released results from a recent report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) that addressed the issues of underage drinking, smoking and illicit drug use.

“Parents play an important role in preventing substance use among youths,” wrote the authors of the NSDUH report.

For this national survey, which was conducted between 2004 and 2011, parents of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 were asked about how they communicated with their kids about drugs and alcohol.

The survey results showed that 22 percent of parents thought that what they said would have little influence on whether their child used illicit drugs. Roughly 9 percent of parents said they had not spoken to their kid in the past year about the dangers of using drugs, drinking or smoking.

Among the 9 percent of parents who hadn’t addressed substance use in the past year, 68 percent said they thought they could influence whether or not their kid would use drugs by talking with him or her.

“Surveys of teens repeatedly show that parents can make an enormous difference in influencing their children’s perceptions of tobacco, alcohol or illicit drug use,” said Pamela S. Hyde, SAMHSA Administrator.

SAMHSA has recently launched a public service announcement (PSA) campaign called “Talk. They Hear You.”

The PSA campaign was designed to encourage parents and caregivers to engage their kids in conversations about the dangers of alcohol. The PSA outlines specific talking points for parents to use with children as young as 9 years of age.

This study was published in May on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 29, 2013
Last Updated:
August 8, 2013