Our work for the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) focuses on substance use and misuse by adults. However, as we all know, these days, more and more children are exposed to vaping, underage alcohol consumption, and many other drugs – including fake pills that can contain deadly amounts of fentanyl.

As a parent of three grown sons, this topic is close to my heart as we have witnessed tragedy among friends stemming from a lack of open and honest dialogue early in childhood. Young children and teens are still learning to make good decisions, especially regarding uncomfortable social settings and peer pressure. There’s also the constant influence of the internet and social media.

Heading into the holiday season, I want to encourage families to discuss these topics openly to establish parent-child bonds and circles of trust. By having open-minded conversations with children early, parents can positively affect their health and safety now and in the future.

That’s where our new Open Conversations campaign work comes in. As part of the fully integrated, omni-channel messaging, our content emphasizes that it’s never too early or too late to talk to your kids about opioids and other drug abuse.

Starting a meaningful, compelling conversation with young people can be tricky. That’s why the campaign has an accompanying landing page and website with a series of short videos that provide information about why it’s essential to have conversations early on and tips on how to start conversations – and keep them going.

Parents are big influencers on their children; if we aren’t talking to them about illegal substances, someone else is. But the truth is parents can make the most significant impact. We have a chance to make a difference every single day.

And making a difference is doing work that matters.

Learn more about our work with DAODAS.