Parents can protect their kids from using drugs by teaching them proper drug education at a young age. By taking advantage of teachable moments, parents can teach their children about drugs, what to do when they’re offered to them, and how they can cause harm not just in the moment, but long term. Talking to your kids about drugs can be tricky. You have to walk a fine line between scaring them and educating them, which can be difficult. However, we’re here to help! Here’s how you can talk to your kids about drug use.
Preparing to Talk to Your Children About Drugs
Before you sit down to talk to your kids about using drugs, you should educate yourself and make sure that you’re providing them with the most accurate information. There are many resources out there for drug education, including:
You should not only educate yourself on how to talk to your children (which we’re going to go over), but on different types of drugs that teens may frequently use, like alcohol, marijuana, and opioids. Learn about the different street names and how they may affect your children. Learn about warning signs and what to look out for. Most importantly, keep yourself informed and be ready to do more research if needed when your children have questions you can’t answer.
For most parents, they’re learning about these things alongside their children. While you don’t have to teach your children everything you find, it’s important to know the basics.
Not Talking to Your Kids About Drugs Sends a Message
It may seem easier to avoid talking to your kids about drugs altogether. Some believe that this is an effective strategy. If they don’t know anything about drugs, why would you want them to? Well, if they don’t know about the dangers of drugs, they won’t understand if someone offers them a joint or a pill. They won’t know the consequences or even understand what they’re doing. Educating them is the best way to ensure they know what they’re being offered and understand how it will affect them if they choose to say yes to drugs.
By providing good drug education, you can also teach your children how to say no (and that it’s okay to say no) to drugs. Roleplaying these scenarios may make them more comfortable avoiding peer pressure and turning down their friends if they’re ever offered drugs or alcohol.
Drug Education for Different Age Groups
Drug education isn’t one size fits all. You’ll have to tailor your drug education to your child’s age and add to their education as they grow up. Starting the conversation at a young age is a great way to instill this knowledge in them from the getgo, reinforcing it as they grow up. Here’s how you should go about talking to each age group about drugs.
With young children, it’s important to take advantage of the teachable moments. If something comes up on TV or in a movie, answer any questions they may have or start the conversation yourself. Reinforce that drug use is bad by explaining what it can do to a person’s body. With young children, the most common example is seeing a character with a cigarette on TV. Explain how smoking can hurt the body and why it isn’t cool.
During this time, you should also teach them how to say no to drugs if they’re offered them. Young children aren’t often offered drugs, but it’s a good time to start teaching them how to set boundaries.
8 to 12-Year-Olds
When your children start to grow older, ask them what they’ve heard about drugs. Don’t be judgemental or expect any sort of response from them, but try to learn what they’ve heard or if they’ve interacted with drugs of any kind. By being non-judgemental, you’re more likely to get a genuine response.
Before your children turn into teenagers, they’re more willing to talk about touchy subjects like drugs, so take advantage of this time. Allow them to share their thoughts and feelings during this time as well.
Teens are the age group most likely to use drugs or alcohol, and they’re also the age group least likely to talk about it. Talk to your children about what they’re feeling and what they’re experiencing in a non-judgemental way. If you’ve found out that they’ve used drugs before, try not to be judgemental. Ask them what led them to that decision and how they think they could avoid it in the future.
Many parents find success in writing out contracts with their children when it comes to rules. These contracts often include rules like, “Parent will pick up their child at any time no questions asked (even in the middle of the night).” This encourages an open and healthy relationship where your teen can come to you with anything they might need, even if it’s drug-related.
During this time, your teens may also ask more specific questions about drugs. By discussing drug use and educating them properly from the get-go, you’ll foster an open, ongoing conversation that’s rooted in trust.
What to do If Your Child Uses Drugs
If you find out that your child has used drugs (whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, or something else), your first instinct may be to overreact or get angry with them. However, this won’t help the situation and may even lead to them using more drugs in the future.
If you find out that your child has used drugs, you should ask them questions about the use. Why did they decide to use drugs? Is there something else going on in their life that might be causing them to rebel and use drugs? They may not want to answer these questions, so it’s important to ask in a caring and respectful way.
Children who use drugs might be experiencing trauma or mental health issues, so it’s important to get to the root of the drug use. Receiving treatment for these issues may help them avoid drugs by developing healthy coping mechanisms. If you’re worried that your child has developed an addiction, contact Asheville Recovery Center today to speak with a treatment specialist.