How To Talk With Your Child PDF Print E-mail

Iowa Medicine Talk, Lock and Connect

The most effective step in preventing teen prescription drug misuse is a talk from a parent or another key influencer, such as a grandparent, guardian or trusted adult. Here are some tips to make the talk easier and more effective.

Pointers for a Proactive Medicine Talk

  • Don’t worry about having all the facts, but know the truth. It’s more important to express how you would feel if your child used drugs and the impact it could have on your family.
  • Use “teachable moments” to start a dialogue. Take advantage of everyday events, such as listening to a radio ad about an OTC medicine, or viewing a TV show or movie where a character uses a drug. Using natural conversation starters will make it easier to have an ongoing conversation.
  • Dispel the myth. Many teens believe prescription and OTC drugs are safer than street drugs. Make sure they know medicines are still drugs, and they can be just as harmful as illegal drugs when taken inappropriately.
  • Talk about the risk. Be specific and tell your teens that taking prescriptions without a doctor’s approval or using OTC drugs without supervision can be dangerous — even deadly. Support your claim with facts:
    • Prescription medications are powerful substances that have a very different impact on a healthy person.
    • Painkillers are made from opioids, the same substance found in heroin.
    • Many pills look the same, but depending on the drug and the dosage, the effects can vary from mild to lethal.
    • Pharmaceuticals taken without a prescription or a doctor's supervision are just as dangerous as illicit drugs or alcohol.
  • Cover the consequences. Tell your children about the distasteful consequences of misusing prescription and OTC drugs, such as vomiting, unwanted sexual behavior, blackouts—not remembering what they did—or even a fatal overdose.
  • Set clear rules about drug use. Talk to your child or teen in advance about the consequences of violating the established rules. Make it clear that teens should never take prescription or OTC drugs with illicit drugs or alcohol.
  • Set the stage for more discussion. Remember, you will have ongoing discussions with your teen about prescription and OTC drugs. Talking about drugs is not a one-time event.

**Source: 2012 Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey

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