MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS REGARDING ALCOHOL AND DRUGS INTAKE
Drug use is on the rise. To most parents, this is the last thing they want to hear. Most likely, at some point your child is going to be offered drugs. You don’t have to sit by idly and hope your child knows to say “No, thanks.” Talking to your child early and often can help them make the right decision about drugs. Knowing the consequences of using and having them understand how you feel about them can be effective deterrents.
Most kids who start experimenting with drugs are doing so at a younger and younger age. It’s best to have your talk before age 10, however, it’s never too late.
Start by discussing why kids do drugs. Most often it’s because of the allure of experimenting with a “forbidden” substance, the promise of pleasurable experiences, social status and acceptance. Listen to what your kids have to say. Having a two way open conversation will lead to a better understanding of the pressures your kid might be under to try drugs. Knowing this you might be able to help them choose not to do drugs. Let them know you are listening and don’t judge.
Talk to your child about his/her goals for their future. How do drugs factor into this plan? Talk about how doing drugs might prevent them from reaching their goals. Include the use (especially underage use) of alcohol and tobacco in your conversation. Let them know how you feel about drug use and experimentation. If they know you disapprove they might be more likely not to start. While peer pressure is strong, parental acceptance is some times more important, especially for pre-teens.
Lead by example. Kids who grow up in families where drugs are used are more likely to experiment and become addicted than their peers whose family members don’t do drugs . This includes alcohol, cigarettes, and over the counter and prescription medications, such as Gravol and Valium. Talk to them about the responsible use of prescription medications.
Just as important as the initial talk is the follow up. Know whom your kids are hanging out with, where they are and what they’ve been up to. They might dislike your constant questions, but kids with this kind of questioning are less likely to engage in activities you’d disapprove of. You’re not being a nag; you’re being a parent.
Finally, keep the lines of communication open. You may feel like there is nothing you can do to stop your kids from experimenting with drugs. If you keep track of where they are, whom they’re with and what they’re up to, you’re doing the best you can as a parent.