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New SC website offers help on how to talk to kids about drugs, alcohol


New SC website offers help on how to talk to kids about drugs, alcohol

Nov 28, 2023 | 5:06 pm ET
By Skylar Laird
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COLUMBIA — A website encouraging parents to talk to their kids about drugs and alcohol launches Wednesday as part of South Carolina’s effort to combat substance abuse.

The Open Conversation SC website will include facts about drugs and alcohol, instructional videos on how to talk to children as young as 4 and as old as 22 about substance use, and activities parents and kids can do together to open up the conversation, said Jimmy Mount, spokesman for the South Carolina agency tasked with helping people overcome drug and alcohol addictions.

What that conversation looks like can vary based on the child’s age and situation. For younger kids, parents might talk about not using prescription drugs or how some drinks are for adults only. For teenagers and college-age young adults, that conversation might veer more toward handling situations in which other people are doing drugs or drinking, Mount said.

In a 2021 national survey, 23% of South Carolina high-schoolers reported drinking alcohol in the month before, according to the department. Another 23% said they had smoked cigarettes, and 47% had tried electronic vapor products, or vapes.

Regardless of a child’s situation, parents should make sure their kids feel comfortable coming to them when they’re facing issues involving drugs and alcohol, said Mount, with the state Department of Alcohol and Other Abuse Services.

Parents — or, in some cases, grandparents and guardians — are often their children’s most trusted source of information, he added.

“It’s about building that relationship and making sure your kid can trust you,” Mount said.

The federally funded website, openconversationsc.com, will also include activities to help start the conversation. Suggestions include creating a conversation jar with slips of paper inside that cover a variety of topics, including drugs and alcohol.

The website will go live at 5 p.m. Wednesday. To kick off the launch, Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, department director Sara Goldsby and other local officials will discuss the importance of having these conversations at the Irmo branch of the Lexington County Library.