How to help kids say ‘no’ to drugs and alcohol

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AURORA, Colo. — If your teenager is offered drugs or alcohol, do you know what they would say? Do they?

Experts say it’s important for a parent to establish themselves as a resource, listen and even role play with their children so they are prepared.

Roxy Hernandez is an Aurora mom who believes in open communication with her son Emmanuel, who is in eighth grade.

If he is offered drugs or alcohol, Hernandez wants to make sure he is ready and has the confidence to say “no.”

So she role plays with him and helps him come up with different responses.

“I would probably say something like, if my mom smelled that on me do you know what would happen to me?” she said.

“A tournament would be a really good excuse,” Emmanuel said.

He thinks the role playing is a good idea.

“If you don’t really have a good excuse then they will keep pressuring you and pressuring you,” he said.

Experts agree.

“Role playing can be really helpful,” said Rachel Uslan, a therapist at Aurora Mental Health Center.

She said parents need to establish themselves as a resource and offer facts.

“I think we are really encouraging more and more parents to have honest conversations that aren’t fear based, that are more life skills and fact based, and help youth make decisions based on having confidence and having support,” Uslan said.

She said the Speak Now website is a good place for parents to get help crafting an open, age appropriate conversation.

The site offers facts about the impact on the developing brain, and ways for parents to connect with their kids, be open minded, listen and support.

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