It’s obviously very important that we talk to young people about drug abuse and addiction, but what is the best way to go about that? Parents and teachers everywhere would love to think that they can tell kids to just say no to drugs and alcohol, but it’s never that simple. Young people will be curious about drugs and alcohol, and they may even be subjected to pressure from their peers. Simply being told by adults that drugs are bad really isn’t enough for most kids. They must be educated about the effects of drugs and alcohol so that they can be trusted to make the best decisions. That may be a challenge for some parents, but here are some tips that might be useful when it comes time to have this discussion.
According to Bay Area Recovery (www.bayarearecovery.com), children are much smarter than many adults realize, and they will know when parents and other authority figures aren’t being totally honest with them. Sadly, many past attempts to “educate” young people about drug abuse and addiction have been full of half-truths and outright lies. These lies were told with the best intentions, but they were lies nevertheless. That didn’t help parents’ attempts to keep their kids off of drugs, especially since many kids knew that at least some of what they were being told wasn’t entirely true.
When you talk to your children about drugs and alcohol, be as truthful as you can. If you can tell them what it is like to use a certain substance, don’t be afraid to do so. The same goes for anything you can tell them about the consequences of substance abuse and what it’s like to go through addiction treatment. You may have to do some research on your own, but that is still better than flat-out forbidding drug use without saying why or trying to scare them with “facts” that are obviously not true.
Listen to Your Kids and Answer Questions
Your children will no doubt have questions about drugs or alcohol, and you should never hesitate to answer them to the best of your ability. Part of this involves being honest and staying informed yourself, but most of it will mean listening to your children. It shows that you respect them, and they will be far more likely to listen to you when you have something important to say.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
Part of educating young people about drugs and alcohol is being able to recognize substance abuse and addiction. If you suspect that your child has a problem with drugs or alcohol, there are affordable drug treatment programs in your area that will help them become sober. Ask your family physician for recommendations to find a program that works best for you and your child.
It’s also important to remember that substance abuse and drug addiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum; many young people turn to drugs to cope with other issues in their lives. Overcoming an addiction is important, but it is only one step in getting healthy and taking back one’s life. You will need to address the underlying issues that led to your child seeking out drugs and alcohol in the first place. This can be as difficult as treating the addiction, but it is far more important for your child’s mental and physical well being.