So your son or daughter has started vaping, using drugs or drinking. Is this just what kids do? Is it going to lead to other drugs, or become a problem? Don’t leave the answers to chance.

Good to Know:
  • 90% of addictions start during the teen years.
  • Certain risk factors make some people more vulnerable to addiction.
  • It’s never too early to speak up and address teen substance use.
How to Address Teen Substance Use:
Help for Parents:

How Worried Do I Need to Be?

Ninety percent of addictions start during the teen years. Beginning at age 10 through the mid-20’s, massive changes are underway in the teen brain to develop capabilities related to impulse control, managing emotions, problem-solving and anticipating consequences. Substance use during this time period can prime the brain to be more susceptible to addiction and other mental health disorders, especially for kids who are more vulnerable.

How Do I Know if My Child is More Vulnerable to Addiction?

Any substance use has negative effects on a teen brain. But your child is more vulnerable to addiction if any of these risk factors are present:

  • Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and/or ADHD
  • Family history of substance use disorders or other addictions related to gambling, food, sex, etc.
  • Past trauma, such as a family death; divorce; or verbal, physical or sexual abuse
  • An “addictive personality”, a term used by many parents to describe a child who often acts without concern for the consequences, has difficulty following or obeying rules, and is engaged in other risky behaviors.

If any of these are a factor for your child, it’s especially important to take any substance use seriously, and act.

Take Action

Many parents feel that there isn’t much more they can do beyond lecturing or punishing their kid if they’re caught drinking or using other drugs. But there are proven ways to motivate your child to dial back their substance use. You can have a conversation with your child about substance use without it imploding, and begin encouraging healthy behaviors you want to see and discouraging those that you don’t – especially those related to substance use.

The tools and resources highlighted below are designed to help you help your child. We also offer a full library of parent resources – including our guides to vaping and marijuana – available to download for free.

What Tools and Resources Are Available to Help Me?

Free tools and resources are available to help guide your response to your child’s drug use at any time — even if you just want to assess whether or not it’s a problem in the first place.

Get One-on-One Help to Address Your Child’s Substance Use

Contact our Helpline to connect with a trained and caring master’s-level specialist. They can help you find answers and make an action plan for addressing your son or daughter’s substance use.

Get Support from Another Parent Who’s Dealt with a Child’s Addiction

Many parents have been on the same road as you. Expert advice can and should be an important part of you seeking help for your child’s substance use, but it can be life-changing to talk with someone who has been in your shoes. Learn more about Parent Coaching, our peer-to-peer support program.

Get Messages of Help & Hope by Text

Get customized text messages to help you learn evidence-based communication skills and strategies to motivate your child to begin changing behavior and getting the help they need. Messages are customized to your needs based on a short assessment.

Hear Personal Stories from Others Touched by Substance Use

Read our Parent Blog to get perspective from parents, caregivers and others affected by substance use and addiction.

Learn & Practice New Skills

The Parents’ 20-Minute Guide offers practical skills — reinforced through daily 20-minute practice — to help you better communicate with your child, avoid arguments and confrontation and keep them safe from substance use.

If you need help going through any of these materials, or want a professional to help you decide what to do, connect with a Helpline Specialist via phone, text or email.

Need direct help? Contact our Helpline to connect with a Parent Specialist for free.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach and each family is unique. Specialists will listen to your story — the challenges, setbacks, obstacles and difficult emotions — and propose a personalized course of action.