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    Your brother drinks too much at a party and causes a scene.

    Some kids seem unbothered by seeing adults drunk, while others are alarmed. Either way, you should talk about it. While you may feel unhappy that your child witnessed something ugly, it could be valuable. For teenagers, it can be hard to connect the apparently light-hearted drinking they see at parties with some of the serious, long-term consequences. You know differently.

    • I’m really sorry you had to see that. Your uncle will be, too. Alcohol makes people lose control and do things that they’ll regret when they sober up.
    • Your uncle started drinking in high school and it just got worse from there. Not everybody who drinks becomes an alcoholic, but your uncle’s addiction has devastated his life.
    • Alcohol has made life really hard for your uncle. He had so much potential, but his addiction made it hard for him to finish school and hold onto a decent job.

    Reading the paper, you notice that a local teenager got arrested for drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs.

    When it comes to who's abusing substances, your teen may be reluctant to talk about friends. But your teenager may be surprisingly open to chatting about the teen drug abuse of more distant acquaintances and peers. It's a way for both of you to connect. You can talk about the risks and consequences of teen drug abuse without turning a weekday breakfast into an interrogation.

    • Do you know anything about the school this guy goes to? Is there a lot of drug use there?
    • Now that this kid has a DUI, he won’t be able to drive for months at least.
    • He’s really lucky he didn’t get in an accident and hurt himself or someone else. That could really ruin a person’s life.

    Your daughter’s reading a cover story about a former child star checking into rehab.

    For teens, it can be unsettling to see someone they once idolized – or maybe still do – go through a very public struggle with drugs. Help them better understand the context of what's happened. You can draw the connection between seemingly innocent experimentation and addiction.

    • Celebrities get surrounded by people who pretend to be friends but don’t really care about them. They get drawn into a really unhealthy lifestyle.
    • When she started using drugs, she probably thought it was fun, and that she could control it. But like a lot of people, she couldn’t.
    • It’s sad that even people this young can develop addiction problems. Even with all her advantages and money, she’ll be struggling with this for the rest of her life.

    Preparing for Middle School

    Tips to help your tween cope with this exciting but risky time.
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