Loved one talking to a young adult

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

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.
Kitchen Table Toolkit
Discussion Guides

Get discussion guides that provide information to assist you with methods to start the conversation about addiction.


Watch videos that can be used to discuss addiction at community forums, PTA meetings, teacher trainings and with young people.

Awareness Materials

Download a variety of print materials that can help you continue the discussion or to distribute