Drug abuse among teens is a serious issue. Thankfully, if you talk openly and honestly with your teen about substance abuse, he or she is less likely to suffer from addiction. If you want to prevent your child from using drugs in the future, or if you suspect it is already happening, the best thing to do is to have a thoughtful discussion about the subject.

But how do you talk to your teen about such a complex and sometimes uncomfortable topic? Here are some guidelines for talking to your teen about drug abuse.

1. Start with a news story

Chances are you see stories in the news almost every day about the consequences of drug charges. Whether it is about misusing prescription drugs or marijuana, you can begin the conversation with a news story. Start by asking your teen whether he or she has heard the story. From there, you can ease your way into a more robust discussion about the harmful effects of using drugs.

2. Bring up a family member or friend

Almost everyone knows someone who does or has done drugs. Use some of your personal experiences as a starting point for the discussion. If you have a history of helping someone through drug abuse, talk about that story. Tell your teen about how the person got help or suffered consequences for using drugs. Your teen is sure to be more receptive to the topic if she or he knows the person you are talking about.

3. Keep the dialogue open

This should not be a one-and-done discussion. One conversation about drug abuse is not enough. Feel free to bring up the subject every now and then when it is appropriate or comfortable. While you probably do not want to drive your teen away by bringing it up all the time, be sure to keep an open dialogue.

By following this advice, you can prevent your teen from getting caught up in harmful and criminal behavior.