Schools are officially out and the summer is here (from the perspectives of schedules, that is). It’s a time for m0re free time, fun in the sun, pool parties, and vacations! But… before your teen goes out with their friends and begins to make plans for the summer months, have you talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking and prescription drug misuse? It is somewhat common knowledge that during summer parties (or any parties for that matter, but definitely those that happen in the summer), teens are potentially exposed to all kinds of drug and/or alcohol use. This may be because without the responsibility of school and schoolwork looming over, teens are more free which can turn into recklessness. “Pill parties” are real. “Drinking parties” are real. That is why it is important that a trusted parent, guardian, adult, and/or caregiver has the conversation to voice expectations and disapprovals, prepare them for possible scenarios, establish trust, and make them aware of all consequences (long term and short term) before that teen gets into a situation they may not know how to navigate out of. Take the time to talk to your teen. Contrary to popular belief, the opinions and instructions of parents/guardians actually do influence the decisions that a teen can make. So, use your influence to build that trust, have those tough/awkward conversations, and ensure that our youth make wise and healthy decisions this summer!