Talking About Substance Use
Did you know that the #1 reason kids give for not drinking or using substances is that they don’t want to disappoint their parents? It’s true. Children who learn about the risks of substance use and about their parents’ expectations around substance use are significantly less likely to start using substances.
Drug and alcohol use are tricky topics to discuss with your children, but they are necessary. Even if your children don’t seem engaged or like they want to listen, have faith that they do hear you.
Alternatively, not talking to your kids about alcohol, cannabis, and other substances also sends kids a message, just not the one you want. Kids don’t always have all the facts when it comes to substance use, and if you don’t talk about the ever-present risks involved, it’s likely that your child just won’t know.
Below, we talk about some strategies that you may want to adopt while talking to your child. Whether they’re little, preteens, or teenagers, we’ve got you covered:
- Tips for talking to children in grade school
- Tips for talking with children in middle school
- Tips for talking with teens in high school
Prevention & Wellness Resources
Resources for Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery
- ParentUp Vermont offers resources and tips to help you provide supportive and effective guidance to your child around topics like substance use and mental wellness.
- SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” app features an interactive simulation tool to help parents practice talking with their kids about underage drinking and drug use.
- VT Helplink is a statewide, public resource for finding substance use treatment and recovery services in Vermont. Helplink services are free and confidential.
- PreventionWorks!VT is a network of Vermont substance misuse prevention coalitions, service providers, and individuals. Find the latest updates and resources on substance misuse policy in Vermont, as well as information for caregivers on how to support children in making healthy choices.
- CounterBalance educates Vermonters about the impact of tobacco marketing on young people in our state.
Community Resources & Support
- Use ACT’s Bennington Help Map to find community resources in and around Bennington, including where you can get hot food, shelter, or medical help.
- Bennington County Prescription Drop Off Locations: Find locations where you can drop off unused prescription medications anytime in Bennington and nearby counties.
- Vermont 211 is a free and confidential service to find out about hundreds of important community resources, like emergency food and shelter, disability services, counseling, senior services, health care, child care, drug and alcohol programs, legal assistance, transportation agencies, educational and volunteer opportunities, and much more.
- Help for Homeless Youth: School homeless liaisons are employed by every school supervisory union in the state and coordinate a variety of resources for students experiencing homelessness. These resources include any items that the student needs to access their education, such as toiletries, eyeglasses, transportation, laundry, and school supplies.
Mental Health Resources
- The Vermont Department of Mental Health focuses on promoting prevention, early intervention, and mental health treatment and support for Vermonters.
- The Vermont Suicide Prevention Center provides suicide prevention hotlines and screening tools as well as resources for schools, professionals, and community members.
Resources for Parents of LGBTQ+ or Gender Expansive Youth
- The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth. Visit the Trevor Support Center, where LGBTQ youth and their allies can find answers to frequently asked questions, and explore resources related to sexual orientation, gender identity and more.
- Outright Vermont is a queer youth advocacy, education, and youth space that provides peer support groups, camps, and events, education for schools and nonprofits, and support for adult caregivers and family members of trans and gender non-conforming youth.
- Queer Connect is dedicated to increasing LGBTQ+ visibility in the community and to building resources for LGBTQ+ people and their families living in and around Bennington, Vermont.
- TransYouth Family Allies provides resources for parents, educators, and other allies on nurturing and supporting trans youth.
- Gender Spectrum works to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens. They offer resources for parents including articles, videos, and online groups.