Much like talking to your kids about sex and relationships, the topic of substance abuse can be one that’s rather touchy, which is why you should approach a conversation like this one prepared and well-versed.
As aforementioned, this is not a conversation that should be had impromptu or without proper foresight, and springing a conversation as serious as this one on your teen can end up backfiring, and causing them to feel attacked and become defensive. Instead, give your child clear warning that you would like to talk, and further, give them clear warning as to what you would like to talk about.
Approach with logic, rather than emotion
With a subject like this one, it can be near-impossible to separate your emotions from the conversation, but try as best you can. Approach your teen as you would approach an adult, evenly and with facts, and try to avoid any language that may be interpreted as condescending, prodding, or antagonizing.
Talk in specifics
Not all substances are created equal, and the fact of the matter is, many are more dangerous than others. Take the time to speak to your teen about specific substances, and what their long-term effect are.
Set clear rules
At the end of the day, you are still their parent, and even if you approach the subject with a friend-like mentality, you should still be setting boundaries in an adult-like manner. Let them know that certain things will not be tolerated.
Ask your teen for their point of view
Try to avoid the conversation becoming a one-way lecture, even if your teen seems hesitant to talk. Take frequent opportunity to ask your child their point of view on the subject, and if they decide to share their thoughts, avoid interrupting or correcting them. Starting a safe dialogue early will hopefully encourage open communication later.