Parents: When it comes to the “drug talk,” teens want more conversation.

August 28, 2018

Parents: When it comes to the “drug talk,” teens want more conversation.

A letter to the editor by Katie Miller, District Health Dept. #10. 

In my prevention work throughout Mason County, I’m pleasantly reminded of the countless parents who want a drug-free childhood for their son or daughter, and will do anything they can to keep substance use at bay.  

These parents have likely walked through enough of life to see the dangers of addiction first-hand in their communities or even in their extended families.  And if they haven’t been personally affected by the substance abuse of someone they know, they might look no further than this local news source, TV or social media to see or hear the headlines of yet another overdose.

The wonderful diversity of our community means there is great debate as to when and how to have “the drug talk” with our youth; the powerful conversations that can keep our youth safe, and foster the life skills for making healthy decisions – from choosing good friends to what to say when another teen invites them to try drugs for the first time.

What may be surprising to many parents is that teens say they want MORE conversation, not less.

That’s the message of a new “Just Talk to Me” Public Service Awareness (PSA) campaign.  The campaign, presented by and endorsed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), is rolling out over the next several weeks, during the back-to-school season.  The PSAs can be seen on a variety of “screens” – from social media to TV, to this news source and more.

Our local prevention coalition, The Leeward Initiative, had the opportunity to join six other counties in west Michigan in conducting focus groups with teens and parents to better understand the communication needs and viewpoints related to drug prevention.

What we learned from these focus groups is that teens want more conversation with their parents – not less – with honest, ongoing dialogue.  Many of the teens made it clear that just because they reach out to ask parents or another adult a question about a drug, it doesn’t mean they are currently using it or considering using it.

The Leeward Initiative is part of the team who created the “Just Talk To Me” campaign this year, with the hope that the new PSAs spark greater parent-teen dialogue, and help create strong communication habits going into the new school year.

Our message for parents is that you can help close the communication gap in your community – and in your family, and foster prevention through communication – the heart of what is all about.   Check out the website for facts, tips, ice-breakers and more. Above all, your teens are ready to listen; they’re ready for your ongoing conversation.

If you have questions about the campaign, or want information about what else The Leeward Initiative is doing in our community to address substance use, please feel free to contact me:

Katie Miller (231) 316-8567

Public Health Educator | Leeward Initiative Coordinator

District Health Department #10



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