How to Talk to Your Grandchildren About Drugs and Alcohol

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By: SUPE Editorial Team

Speaking to your grandchildren about drugs or alcohol may seem difficult. The newer generations are experiencing different challenges in life, and it can be hard to relate.

However, the general talk about drugs and alcohol has not really changed and is always relatable. It is crucial to speak about peer pressure, the dangers of using these substances at a young age, and how to avoid situations where drugs and alcohol are present.

Tips to Talking to Grandchildren About Substance Use

Some of the following tips are applicable in most situations:

  • Ask your grandchild’s views about drugs and alcohol.
  • Avoid lecturing them, but listen to their opinions and questions about drugs. Assure them they can be honest with you.
  • Discuss reasons not to use drugs. Avoid using scare tactics and emphasize how drugs and alcohol can affect the things in their life.
  • Consider what they are seeing on social media. Talk about what they see and ask them to show you.
  • Talk about ways to avoid peer pressure and go through scenarios that may occur. Ask them what they have experienced.
  • Be prepared to discuss personal drug use in the past and personal experiences.

Some of the following tips are applicable if they are using drugs or alcohol:

  • Do not have high expectations. One conversation will not necessarily change a person’s mind about drug or alcohol use.
  • Have one-on-one conversations in a private setting, avoiding the family intervention initially.
  • Tell the person you want to speak to them in advance about their drug or alcohol use.
  • Shorter conversations are better, to begin with, making way for longer heart-to-heart conversations.
  • Draw from your experience without making it all about you and relate to what they are experiencing.
  • Offer solutions for help and organize a family intervention if necessary.

Why Would Your Grandchildren Choose to Use Drugs or Alcohol?

Understanding why adolescents and young adults choose to use drugs or alcohol in excess can be challenging. There are many reasons and factors that place an individual at a higher risk of experimenting with licit or illicit substances. 

The information below will shed some light on some of the most common questions older adults may have about drugs and alcohol and young people.

Reasons Adolescents Choose to Use Drugs or Alcohol

Experimenting and testing boundaries are common among teens and young adults. The desire to do something new or risky is normal. Statistically, young adults aged 18 to 25 were less likely than adolescents aged 12 to 17 or adults 26 and older to perceive any risk from using marijuana, for example.

Some of the common factors why these age groups use drugs includes some of the following:

Icon used to represent boredom

Relieving boredom and to feel good.

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Forget their troubles and relax.

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Satisfy individual curiosity.

Icon used to represent physical or emotional pain

Ease physical or emotional pain.

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Struggling with mental health issues.

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Poor family dynamic or environment.

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Demonstrate independence.

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Fit in or belong to a specific group.

Factors Putting Children At Risk for Drugs or Alcohol Use

Many factors influence adolescents’ or adults’ reasons for using licit or illicit drugs. Risk factors are the circumstances or events that increase an individual’s use of drugs or alcohol. Risk factors may include the following:

  • Struggling with academic performance.
  • Being a victim of bullying or cyberbullying.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Work-related stress and poor job performance.
  • Parents, friends, or siblings who use drugs or alcohol.
  • Living in a community with a high tolerance for drug and alcohol use.
  • A belief there is no risk in using drugs or alcohol.
  • Physical or emotional trauma or injury.

Factors that Prevent Drug and Alcohol Use

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High self-esteem.

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Strong bonds with parents, friends, or family members.

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Regularly hearing about the dangers associated with drug or alcohol use.

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Active in faith-based organizations.

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Spending time around positive and uplifting individuals.

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Living in a community as an adolescent that offers extracurricular activities.

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Being exposed to effective drug and alcohol education and prevention.

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A strong belief that using drugs or alcohol is harmful or risky.

Test Your Knowledge

Talking to Your Grandchildren About Substance Use

You should never ask your grandchild's views about drugs or alcohol.

Having ONE conversation with your grandchild will convince them to get help for their drug or alcohol problem.

Experimenting and testing boundaries with drugs and alcohol is common among teens and adolescents.

What is a common factor why teens and adolescents use drugs or alcohol?

What places someone at risk for using drugs or alcohol?

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