Seal Press Authors Provide Ten Tips for Parents Talking to Teens about Alcohol and Drugs

Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — Having "The Talk" with teens doesn't necessarily mean a conversation about sex. As kids get older, many parents wonder what they should say about drugs and alcohol to help teens navigate their junior high and high school years.

Recently on the TODAY show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, Dr. Logan Levkoff and Dr. Jennifer Wider—authors of Got Teens?: The Doctor Moms' Guide to Sexuality, Social Media and Other Adolescent Realities—discussed a number of tips for broaching the subjects of alcohol and drug use with teens. Here, the Doctor Moms provide their top ten tips to help parents steer this often difficult conversation:

1. Get the Backstory: When teens ask about their parents’ personal experiences with drugs or alcohol, first find out why they're asking. This will help parents craft their response.

2. Have Clear Expectations: Don’t be judgmental. Talk about expectations with teens. They need (and want) boundaries.

3. Don't Avoid the News: The debate over legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use is a great conversation-starter for teens. Talk about the issues openly.

4. Be a Role Model: Parents should always model healthy alcohol use in the home.

5. Honesty is the Best Policy: If a parent has a problem with substance abuse or a history of addiction, teens should know about it. They may also be at risk.

6. Discuss Prescriptions: Explain that just because prescription drugs are in the medicine cabinet and "legal," they are meant only for the person to which they are prescribed. Taking a drug that is not prescribed directly is dangerous and potentially addictive.

7. Instill Good Judgment: Teach teens to recognize their limits, so if they eventually experiment with alcohol, they learn to cut themselves off before their judgment is impaired.

8. Urge Them to Establish a Buddy System: Encourage kids to have a trusted friend who can watch over them and vice versa.

9. Always Be Judgment-Free: Discuss the fact that teens should never, for any reason, get into a car with an impaired driver. Offer to pick them up anytime, anywhere, no questions asked. Judgment-free.

10. Create a Text Code: In case teens are at a party and don't want to call home directly, have a number that they can text as a code to know to call them and ask them to come home.

For more about Got Teens?, visit Be sure to also follow the authors on Twitter @LoganLevkoff and @DrWider.

About Seal Press Seal Press was founded in 1976 to provide a forum for women writers and feminist issues. Since then, Seal has published groundbreaking books that represent the diverse voices and interests of women—their lives, literature, and concerns. Seal’s authors are radical and original thinkers, professionals with a distinct point of view, gutsy explorers, truth-tellers, and writers who engender laughter, tears, and rage. Seal Press publishes books with the goal of informing women’s lives. Based in Berkeley, California, Seal is a member of the Perseus Books Group. To learn more, visit


Eva Zimmerman