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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.

Your son has the flu, so you pick up some cough medicine to help ease his symptoms.

While millions of Americans use cough medicines with dextromethorphan (abbreviated as DXM) to help them get over a cold or flu, some teens are abusing these products to get high. Parents need to stress the risks and make it clear that they're paying attention to what's in the medicine cabinet.

  • Did you know some people drink bottles of this stuff or take a whole pack of pills trying to get high? And if they’re caught driving after taking dextromethorphan, it’s a DUI.
  • Some people think that just because something is sold in a drugstore, it’s safe at any dose. But even cough medicine can be really dangerous if you take too much.
  • While I always want to be prepared in case anyone gets sick, I do keep an eye on how much cough medicine is in each bottle or package.  

These are just a few ways to approach these situations. You'll come up with other ideas. But here's some advice: don't turn every teachable moment into an excuse to deliver the same old lecture. While you need to share what you know, you should also try to connect and have a real conversation. If you show that you're open and receptive, you'll be surprised at the things your teen is willing to share. Your son or daughter may not be the only one learning something.

Preparing for Middle School

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

Click here to wach video: Cough Syrup Drug Abuse

1 in 10 teens abuse cough medicine. It's dangerous, even deadly. Is your teen in danger?

Click here to watch video: Cough Syrup Drug Abuse