How do I make conversations about drug use feel safe?

Whether we are talking about drugs, dating, mental health, or any other sensitive subject, we want young people to feel safe to honestly share their feelings, ask questions, and voice their concerns. Don’t assume this will be a one-time talk. Instead, work to establish open lines of communication so this conversation can continue as a dialogue.


  • As you talk to your child, try to avoid judgment, anger, or fear. Young people may pick up on your tone and tune out or react defensively. Be sure to make this a conversation and not a lecture.

  • Think of this first conversation as just opening the door - you don't need to say it all in one go. Focus on setting the tone for open and ongoing dialogue, an environment conducive to mutual understanding and honesty. It is not about being right or having your stance immediately embraced.

  • It may be more effective to have 60 one-minute conversations than one 60-minute conversation. Bite-size conversations and information sharing can be very effective.

  • An open conversation will disarm the notion that this is a lecture. It will also provide a relaxed environment to discuss ideas without making them feel like they are being blamed or are in trouble.


  • If you have a partner, try to have a conversation with them and your child together so they see that you are on the same page and equally invested in sharing this knowledge and keeping them safe.

  • If you don't have a partner, think about inviting another family over and having a conversation over dinner so they can understand this is a norm that other households share and will reinforce together.


  • Share your values and expectations clearly.

  • Plan in advance for how you might react to concerning information that the young person might share to make sure they still feel safe and welcome to open up.

Recent Articles

More Conversation Tips Articles