Talking to young people about substance abuse

Observe the following when talking to a young person about substance abuse:

  • Make sure you have ample time and a place where you can talk in peace.
  • Stay calm.
  • Start by saying something positive about the youth, something that you are satisfied with.
  • Proceed as you have planned.
  • Say that you are worried. Say that you care.
  • Tell the facts, that is, what you have seen, heard or smelled. Do not moralise.
  • Ask open questions (what, where, when, etc.) that cannot be answered by a simple yes or no.
  • Listen (let the young person tell their story).
  • Be prepared for tears or anger.
  • Discuss the young person’s goals in life and the influence of drug abuse on them.
  • Clearly say that you value the young person and believe in their chances.
  • Explain what you are willing to do to support the young person.
  • If you are wrong, apologise.
  • If the young person needs professional help, discuss the matter and advice them.

(Source: Nuorten akatemia – Päihteet puheeksi harrastustoiminnassa ja koulussa (Youth Academy – Talking about Substance Abuse in Recreational Activities and Schools))