a caregiver has a compassionate check-in with an adolescent at home

How to Talk About Substance Use and Addiction

Educational materials and conversation starters to lead meaningful conversations about substance use, gambling & addiction.
Talk to Prevent
Start Talking

Many small conversations are easier than one big talk. Find moments every day to connect and talk about substance use and addiction. Be sure to take advantage of available discussion guides, videos, and print material designed to spark a meaningful discussion about addiction at any age. Choose a safe, distraction-free setting where all parties are attentive. Remember to listen and encourage a two-way conversation.


  • Encourage conversation, Don't lecture. Encourage children and teens to share their thoughts and feelings about whatever issue you're discussing. Listen and respond thoughtfully to their concerns. Avoid questions that have a simple "yes" or "no" answer, to start a meaningful dialogue about addiction, substance use, and gambling.
  • Show respect to the child's point of view. Acknowledge their feelings in a constructive way, don't respond with anger or judgment. It will make them more likely to listen to and respect your viewpoint. Focus efforts on teaching children what to do as opposed to what not to do. 
  • Don't hide a family history of issues substance use or addiction. The truth is important. When you feel they're ready, address your family history and experiences with drugs or alcohol. It doesn't have to be uncomfortable, drawing from our past experiences can be a powerful teaching moment.
Kinship Care Toolkit
Discussing Overdose & Addiction
Discussion Guides

Resources on how to navigate difficult conversations surrounding loss, separation or abandonment.

Exercises for Children

Interactive exercises for children to express their feelings, promote positive thinking and self-image.

Self Care Tips

Tips for prioritizing your own needs so you can properly care for others.