Practical Ways to Talk About Drug Abuse with Your Family

Starting a conversation about drug and alcohol abuse won’t always be easy, but it could be the most important conversation you have. Talking to family members about limiting or eliminating their substance use can make you feel like you’re uncool or like you’re nagging. Don’t let that discomfort keep you from voicing your concerns to your loved ones. That simple gesture shows you care and may be just the push your family member needs to act on thoughts they may silently struggle to fully grasp.

If you’re not sure where to start that conversation, here are five opening topics to help you initiate a dialogue.

  • Talk About Prescription Drugs

For years we’ve heard about marijuana being a gateway drug, but in many cases, the real gateway drugs are opioid-based, prescription painkillers. In fact, America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic and a matching upswing in heroin use accompanies that epidemic.

Make sure your family knows about the dangers of these kinds of prescription pills, especially the risks of taking more than prescribed. This topic can easily lead to a greater discussion about the risks of all drugs.


Because of their legality, the dangers of alcohol and tobacco can often go overlooked. However, both alcohol and tobacco can increase the risk of many serious health problems, including various types of cancers.

If you use these substances yourself, sometimes starting a conversation about the health risks of alcohol and tobacco can be difficult, because it can make you feel hypocritical. Remember, having one or two drinks is not the same as alcohol abuse. It’s okay for you to say something. Don’t let your fear of feeling hypocritical stop you from having a potentially life-saving conversation with a loved one.


  • Talk About Illicit Drugs Individually

Of course, this is the topic that usually comes to mind when most people think about talking to their families about drug abuse. One way to make this conversation more engaging and meaningful is to talk about specific drugs instead of drugs as a whole. Talk about the addictive nature of heroin. Talk about the heart attacks that can come from using cocaine. Talk about how marijuana can lead to apathetic regrets. Talk about how people who think they’re taking Ecstasy often end up ingesting all kinds of dangerous chemicals.

This specificity shows your family member your concerns are grounded in reality and you’re not just afraid of a vague “boogey-man.” Plus, gauging the reaction your family members have to each specific drug, may give you some incite as to which substance seem to pique their interests most.


  • Discuss Drug Risks

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA), the amount of risk a person perceives a drug to have can affect the likelihood the person would take the drug. Because of this, whenever you talk about a particular drug, be sure to emphasize that the dangers are real and don’t downplay the risks. This is where being specific, as discussed earlier, can be very useful. Just saying, “drugs are bad,” without giving examples of how a specific drug harms the user, can make you seem overly worried instead of justifiably worried. That difference can affect how seriously your family member takes the discussion.


  • Discuss Drug Availability

While the rest of the items on this list deal with the drugs themselves, this topic is about discussing the availability of drugs. Ask your kids if they know other kids who use drugs. Ask where they get them. Talk about the legal problems that can occur just from simply possessing illegal substances. This approach to the conversation can often spark new ways of looking at the risks involved with drug use. It can often put a real face on the nameless “drug dealer.” It can also force a person to think about how much they have to lose by getting caught with drugs.

No matter how you talk to your family about drugs, the important thing is to have the conversation. It may be hard, it may be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it. Conversations about drug and alcohol abuse save lives. Speak up!


If you have had that talk about drug abuse and a loved one feels a need to overcome an addiction, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout Southern California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.

5 Effective Ways to Talk About Drug Abuse with Your Family