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For Parents/Adults

Your influence Matters

Minimize exposure at home. Even though they’re teens, stop to consider what message you are giving your teen if you offer your kids a drink or other type of drug to use recreationally. Will they think it is OK to drink and do drugs beyond the home? Teens who are exposed to alcohol and drugs in the home are more likely to continue using them.

You’re being heard. Eye-rolling and heavy sighs aside, teens are still listening to you, watching you, and learning from you. What you say still matters a great deal.

Talk to your teens

As teens enter high school their chances of encountering alcohol and drugs increase, and so does the need for frequent conversations about this topic. In fact, 2014 Madison County Illinois Youth Survey data indicates that by 10th grade, 31% of students report past 30 day use of alcohol (a drastic increase from 15% of 8th grade students). What is even more alarming is that 21% of 10th grade students in Madison County reported there was little to no risk with drinking alcohol regularly (while only 9% of 10th grade students reported little to no risk associated with smoking cigarettes). Why is this? How is it that teens see the risks associated with smoking cigarettes, but not with regular consumption of alcohol or binge drinking? Because we as parents feel comfortable talking to our children about not smoking and set a standard that it is an unacceptable behavior. Wouldn’t it be great to feel just as confident to talk to your teen about alcohol and other drugs? If you don’t feel comfortable or confident with these conversations, you certainly are not alone. 

Illinois Youth Survey Statistics

Learn more at

2014 IYS Madison County Study of Perceived Risk

These are students who report "no to slight risk" of regular use of the above listed substances.


Answering Tough Questions

Questions about your own alcohol or drug use, either past or present, can be difficult to answer. Sharing your past experience with teens can be helpful, but it’s important to have a plan for these questions should they come up.

Did you drink or try drugs when you were a teenager? 

If you did, experts recommend that you give an honest answer. Explain why you were tempted to try drugs but also why it was a poor decision in hindsight. If your experience involved a negative consequence, that is also something you may want to share. 

Why do you drink?

  • Explain your reasons for drinking whether it’s to enhance a meal, share good times with friends, or celebrate a special occasion.
  • Point out that if you choose to drink, it’s always in moderation.
  • Point out the fact that it is illegal for those under the age of 21 to drink.
  • Talk about the fact that those who drink before age 21 are more susceptible to addiction due to brain development.
  • Talk about the fact that because the brain is not finished developing, teens do not drink in moderation, but in excess which results in negative or even dangerous consequences.

Sometimes you take leftover prescription pain medicine when you have a headache, it can’t be that bad right?

Acknowledge that your teen makes a good point, and that you may have set a bad example, BUT…

Explain that any type of prescription drug should only be taken as directed by a doctor, and that people should only take drugs prescribed to them.