If you're concerned about your teen's drug or alcohol use, then it is time to take action. You can never be too safe or intervene too early – even if you believe your teen is just “experimenting.”

If you're concerned about your teen's drug or alcohol use, then it is time to take action. You can never be too safe or intervene too early – even if you believe your teen is just "experimenting."

What exactly is an intervention, and why should I have one with my child?

You don't need to be scared off by the word "intervention." An intervention can be as simple as a conversation in which you express your concern to someone about his or her drug use – it is not an attack on that person, and it doesn't always need to be followed by rehab. The point of having an intervention with your teen is to address his drug or alcohol problem and lead him to help if he needs it. A simple intervention can take place between you and your child in your own home – and it can be very successful, even if it only tackles small goals at first. Just making it clear to your teen that you don't want him drinking or using drugs as an accomplishment.

Confronting your child about his drug use will probably be uncomfortable for both of you, and you may even think it's unnecessary. But you can never be too safe or intervene too early. Casual or experimental drug use can quickly turn into drug abuse, dependence or addiction and can lead to accidents, legal trouble, and serious health issues. That's why it's imperative that you have an intervention as soon as your instinct tells you that something is wrong. If you are at all concerned about your child's drug or alcohol use – or even just have a bad feeling – you can and should start the conversation.

What kind of intervention should you have? There are two types: formal and informal.

A formal intervention is a planned and structured conversation with the drug abuser. This may be the best option for you if you believe your teen is suffering from dependence or addiction, or has refused help or treatment on previous occasions. A formal intervention will involve you and your child's other loved ones explaining to your teen how her drug habits and resulting behaviors are affecting their lives. You may want to hire a trained professional such as an interventionist or qualified counselor, to conduct and mediate this type of intervention.

An informal intervention is a personal discussion with the drug or alcohol user. This is probably your best option if you've never discussed your child's use with her before. In an informal intervention, you will make some observations, ask your teen some questions – and listen to her answers. Your informal intervention will hopefully lead you and your teen to figure out the next steps toward a healthier lifestyle you both agree upon.

While you should talk to your teen as early as possible, there are some times when you shouldn't attempt the conversation. Reconsider if:

Your child is drunk or high. Your intervention won't be productive – or remembered – if your child is under the influence. Wait until he or she is sober, and then talk.You're angry. Yelling isn't going to get you anywhere. Have the conversation when you're feeling calm and level-headed.You aren't prepared. This tough conversation will be even harder if you can't answer your teen's questions or back up your claims. Before you initiate the intervention, read the rest of this guide, talk with someone you trust, and breathe.Bottom line: An intervention is simply a conversation, but it's an important conversation that you can never have too early. The sooner you intervene, the more pain and danger you will save your child, yourself, and your family in the future. But remember, the time has to be right. The conversation will be much more productive if both you and your teen are calm and sober.

For more information about USAC, parenting and substance abuse go to www.usacbrowncounty.org Another reliable website is www.drugfree.org. Take the time and research youth substance abuse, what the trends are and what is happening in your community. Parents want to believe that their child isn't doing it, but in reality you may never know, or in most cases are not able to recognize the symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse. Check it out!