Video game helps parents with tough talk from drugs to alcohol

From binge drinking to smoking marijuana, one in 8 teenagers admitted to using drugs last year. In the past 4 years, drug use among middle school students went up 61 percent. Nationwide, there were more than 1-hundred thousand deaths related to overdoses last year. Now, an organization is looking to help parents start a conversation with their kids.

From binge drinking, to smoking pot, to popping your parents’ pain meds, one in eight teenagers admitted to using drugs last year. In the last four years, drug use among middle schoolers went up 61%! In 2021 there was a record number of more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S. from drug overdoses.

Tenth grader Molly Mungan has stayed strong, but she knows other kids in her school have not.

“There’s definitely been some peer pressure in school,” Mungan said.

From vaping to drinking to popping pills, Mungan has been told about the dangers.

“It’s an ongoing conversation,” said Gretchen Mungan, the teen’s mother.

However, a new video game could kickstart the discussion. Pixelton Adventures is a free online game that provides teens with real-life scenarios, and when you do start discussing the dangers, be sure to keep your conversations age appropriate.

For preschoolers, it’s about making healthy choices. In elementary school, take advantage of teachable moments. When you see someone smoking in a movie—mention the dangers.

By middle school, set rules. In high school, make sure your child knows you disapprove of using drugs or drinking alcohol. And stand by your rules. If your teen breaks them, enforce the consequences.

“If a young person under the age of 13 begins using a substance there’s a 70% chance that they will develop a substance use disorder sometime in their lifetime,” says Katie Gallagher of Candor Health Education, the creators of the game.

Most importantly, continue to talk to your child about their choices. Also remember, when starting these tough conversations to keep your tone calm and teach kids early how to say no. The key age for discussions is eight to 12 years old. They’re young enough to understand, and not yet tuning you out. You can play the game for free at candorhealthed.org.