How To Talk About Drugs

How To Talk to Your Child About the Dangers of Substance Abuse

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Family is the Key

Knowing the right way to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol are key factors in keeping your teen drug-free and maintaining a healthy family life. The family is the heart of our society, yet every day our families are devastated by the horrors of drug abuse. Knowing what to say to your kids about drugs is a difficult task even for the most conscientious parent. Children need this information to keep themselves safe. Teach your children to know the pitfalls of drugs. Encourage healthy drug-free living in our community.

When children do not feel comfortable talking to their parents, they will oftentimes look for answers elsewhere. Teenagers who are not informed properly about the dangers of using drugs are at greater risk of experimenting with drugs at an early age. Parents that are educated on the effects of drug abuse can give their young adults knowledgeable and correct information when the questions start. You are your child’s first role model. Your views on alcohol, tobacco, and drugs will strongly influence how they think about them. Talking about the dangers of using drugs should be a normal part of your general safety conversations.

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Preschool to Age 7

The sooner you begin to talk to your child about the dangers of drug use the better. You have already begun doing this subconsciously when you give a specific medicine or antibiotic to your child. You explain why this medicine is being given. This is also a time when your child will naturally pay attention to your guidance. Take advantage of “teachable moments” now. If you see someone on TV smoking a cigarette, begin to talk about smoking, and the dangers of smoking. This may also lead to a discussion about alcohol and drugs and how they could cause harm.

Keep this conversation light and calm.  Use terms that your child will understand. Explain the effects of drugs. Let your kid know how they make a person feel, the risk of dying from an overdose, and other long-term damage drugs can cause. You can research the different effects of specific drugs yourself to be informed or read more about some of the most commonly used drugs by teens on our website here.

Ages 8 to 12

As your child grows older, you will be able to start talking with them about what they think about drugs. By asking the questions in a nonjudgmental, open-ended way, you’re more likely to get an honest response. Children who trust their parents and know they are going into conversations with an open nonjudgmental parent often makes the child feel safer in being open and honest. This is the basis for a trusting relationship with your child and will most likely make them more trusting of you in future situations.

Really listen to your kid.  Really pay attention to concerns and questions. and have answers ready. If you do not know the answer to their question it is okay to say so. Remember. Be honest. You can look up most answers to any questions your child may have about drug addiction or alcoholism online together.

Even if your questions don’t immediately result in a discussion, they will still get your kids thinking about the issue. Show your children that you are willing to hear what they have to say. They may be more willing to come to you for help in the future.

Ages 13 to 17

Preteens and teenagers are more likely to know other kids who use alcohol or drugs, at this age. Some may have friends who can now drive cars. This leads to easier ways to come in contact with drugs or alcohol.

Talk to your teens about the dangers of drunk driving and using drugs. Talk about the legal issues, losing your driver’s license, jail time and fines, loss of scholarships, and the possibility that they or someone else may be killed or seriously injured. Consider making a written or verbal contract on the rules about going out or using the car. You can promise to pick your kids up at any time (even 2 a.m.!), no questions asked if they call you when the person responsible for driving has been drinking or using drugs. Being responsible is more important than getting into trouble.

This verbal or written contract can also be used in other situations, consequences: For example, if you find out that your teen’s friends used drugs or alcohol in your car while your child was driving, you may want to suspend car use for a time period. By discussing the consequences of good and bad behavior with your kids from the start, you eliminate surprises and make your expectations clear.

Individual Responsibilities

Anyone can end up in trouble, addicted to drugs, or abusing alcohol, even those who have made an effort to avoid it entirely. Yes, even when the children have been given the proper guidance from their parents. No parent, child, or family is completely immune to the effects of drugs. Certain groups of young adults may be more likely to use drugs than others. Adolescents whose friends use drugs are more likely to try drugs themselves. Those feeling socially isolated for whatever reason may turn to drugs. Teens with depression or body image issues may also try drugs.

It is very important to know your kid’s friends and their friend’s parents. Stay involved in your teen’s life. Pay attention to how your children’s feelings and emotions. Notice different behavioral changes and let them know that you’re there for them and willing to listen in a nonjudgmental way. Recognize when your kids are going through difficult times so that you can provide the support they need or seek additional care if it’s needed.

An open-minded family environment where everyone can openly talk about their feelings, where achievements are praised, and self-esteem is boosted encourages families to become closer, and children to come forward with their questions and concerns about drugs, alcohol, sex, and most other issues teens face today. When censored in their own homes, kids go elsewhere to find support and answers to their most important questions. Make having good conversations with your kids a regular part of your day. Finding time to do things you enjoy together as a family helps everyone stay connected and maintain open communication.

If you are looking for more resources for yourself or your child, be sure to also talk to your doctor or call us for answers to any questions you may have.


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