Talking to your teen about drugs can be difficult but it is incredibly important. Speaking to teens when they are younger can help prevent stress, addiction and succumbing to peer pressure. It is important to realise teens can become addicted to drugs in the most loving and supportive of families. Discussing the issue helps parents know how their teen feels about drugs and if they need help. Some of the best tips for having this kind of discussion are outlined below.
Eliminating the Accusations
A teen may rebel from an innocent question if they perceive it as an accusation. This includes asking them if they have tried drugs. If there is no strong reason for believing the teen is using drugs or has experimented with drugs, it is best to keep the conversation as natural as possible. The parents should make certain the teen has the chance to express their feelings. The teen should not be immediately placed at the centre of the conversation. When the conversation is centred on their perception of drugs or their opinion on how drugs impact their community and friends, their response will be much better and they are more likely to listen.
Scare Tactics and Drama
Scare tactics and drama are the last things a teen needs from their parents. Using stories to scare the teen to prevent drug use is not a good idea. They are already familiar with all the stories and talking about the future does not usually produce the desired effect. A teen is most likely to show a positive response if the discussion is kept in the present tense. Even teens who are focused on their future may not be considering the importance of attending college or securing a good job. Talking about what the teen is currently experiencing and how they feel any issues should be handled gives the teen a voice. This will help provide the confidence they need to speak about their feelings.
Age is Important
Talking to teenagers about drugs when they are younger is more effective. Once they are older, it becomes much more difficult to provide them with the right message. At this point, they have already heard about drugs and drug addictions from their friends, on television and in school. It is easier to get a child to understand how to make good decisions as soon as they understand reasoning and logic.
Eliminating the Assumptions
No parent should ever assume they are more knowledgeable about drugs than their teenager. The teenager may know more than the parents and will not respond to a condescending attitude. Teenagers have access to information through the internet and on television that did not exist in the past. Even if the teen has never done drugs, chances are they know who is selling them and have discussed it with their friends and schools are teaching about these things from year 6 onwards currently.
The parents must understand the facts about drugs to be able to answer their teenager’s questions. Researching the latest statistics, substances and issues regarding drugs prepares the parents for the conversation. If the parents are unable to answer relevant questions, the discussion will not have the same impact on the teen.
The discussions should begin when the children are small and continue as the year’s pass. The first conversation can be about the importance of health and not accepting gifts from strangers, this usually starts from a very young age – teaching not to accept sweets etc. from strangers, not getting into a strangers car or going off with them.
This will effectively open the lines of communication. The concept of drugs and drug addictions can be added into the conversation as the child becomes a little older. It is important to talk about moderation, the difference between illegal drugs and alcohol and making good decisions as an adult. These discussions should spark conversations about making decisions with confidence and dealing with peer pressure.
Offering Healthy Alternatives
While discussing drugs, addictions and substance abuse, it is critical to talk about choices. Sometimes, becoming a part of a sports team, a drama club or learning to play a musical instrument can provide a much healthier choice than drugs. When a teenager knows they have the support of their parents, they will participate in healthier activities. This means instead of accepting an invitation to a party the teen knows will have drugs, they may choose to go to a movie or have a pizza with a friend instead.
Written by Peter Lang, a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia. In recovery himself, he dedicates his time to helping those who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. He occasionally writes for The Recovery Village.