ORLANDO, FL (Ivanhoe Newsroom) — 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 percent! In 20-21 there was a record number of more than one hundred thousand 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 states.

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

“it’s an ongoing conversation,” comments Gretchen Mungan, Molly’s mother.

However, a new video game could kickstart the discussion, Pixelton Adventures is a free online game that provides teens 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 you 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 percent 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 twelve years old. They’re young enough to understand, and not yet tuning you out. You can play the game for free at candor health ed dot org.