How Can I Help My At-Risk Teen? / I Think My Teen Is Drinking or Using Drugs

I Think My Teen Is Drinking or Using Drugs

If you think your teen may be drinking or using drugs, it’s important to step in early. Follow these steps to take quick and effective action:

  1. Look for warning signs.67
    Keep in mind that many of these signs can also be signs of an emotional problem, like depression.68
  2.  Step up your monitoring of your teen.
    Download our parent checklist of ways to monitor your teen in different situations.
  3. Ask your child if they are drinking or using drugs.
    Keep these tips in mind for the conversation:

    • Wait for a time when your teen appears calm and not intoxicated or high.
    • Stay calm and serious without appearing angry.
    • Note the signs you’ve noticed that are making you concerned.
    • Listen and give your teen a chance to explain.69
  4.  Set or revisit rules and consequences.70
    Make sure your teen knows what’s expected of them—and is held accountable for their actions.
  5. Bring in a professional for your teen.
    If you’re not satisfied with your conversation with your teen, or you suspect a serious problem, connect with a healthcare professional such as your family doctor or a mental health or substance use counselor. A professional can help you pinpoint the exact problem, determine whether it’s a mental health or substance use issue, and get help if needed.5