Talking With Teenagers About Drugs and Alcohol
Teen Drug Addiction is becoming more and more prevalent with the legalization of Marijuana. The amount of teens needing help with addiction has risen dramatically since 2010.
Young adult drug and alcohol rehab can save the life of a teen that is in need of treatment. These types of treatment programs for teens are separate from adult facilities.
The issue of drugs can be very confusing to young children. If drugs are so dangerous, then why is the family medicine cabinet full of them? Why do TV, movies, music and advertising often make drug and alcohol use look so cool? It is never too soon to begin helping our kids to distinguish fact from fiction between what they see on TV and what happens in the real world. National studies show that the average age when a child first tries alcohol is 11, for marijuana it’s 12. Many kids start becoming curious about these substances even sooner. So let’s get started!
Listen to your Kids
Student surveys reveal that when parents listen to their children’s feelings and concerns about drugs or alcohol, their kids feel comfortable talking with them and are more likely to stay drug-free.
Talk to your kids and Role Play Situations
Role play ways in which your child can refuse to go along with his friends without becoming a social outcast. Try something like this, “Let’s play a game. Suppose you and your friends are at Andy’s house after school and they find some beer in the refrigerator and ask you to join them in drinking it. The rule in our family is that children are not allowed to drink alcohol. So what could you say?”
If your child comes up with a good response, praise him. If he doesn’t, offer a few suggestions like, “No, thanks. Let’s play the PS3 instead,” or “No thanks. I don’t drink beer. I need to keep in shape for basketball.”
Making the Right Decisions
Allow your child plenty of opportunity to become a confident decision maker. An 8-year-old is capable of deciding if they want to invite lots of friends to their birthday party or just a close pal or two. A 12-year-old can choose whether they want to try out for football or join the school band. As your child becomes more skilled at making all kinds of good choices, both you and your child will feel more secure in their ability to make the right decision concerning alcohol and drugs if and when the time arrives.
Learn Age Appropriate Information
Make sure the information that you offer fits the child’s age and stage. When your 6 or 7-year-old is brushing his teeth, you can say, “There are lots of things we do to keep our bodies healthy, like brushing our teeth. But there are also things we shouldn’t do because they hurt our bodies, like smoking or taking medicines when we are not sick.”
If you are watching TV with your 8-year-old and marijuana is mentioned on a program, you can say, “Do you know what marijuana is? It’s a bad drug that can hurt your body.” If your child has more questions, answer them. If not, let it go. Short, simple comments said and repeated often enough will get the message across.
You can offer your older child the same message, but add more drug-specific information. For example, you might explain to your 12-year-old what marijuana and crack look like, their street names and how they can affect his body.
State Your Family position on the use of Drugs
It’s okay to say, “We don’t allow any drug use and children in this family are not allowed to drink alcohol. The only time that you can take any drugs is when the doctor or Mom or Dad gives you medicine when you’re sick. We made this rule because we love you very much and we know that drugs can hurt your body and make you very sick; some may even kill you. Do you have any questions?”
Make a Good Example
Children will do, what you do, much more readily, than what you say. So try not to reach for a beer the minute you come home after a tough day; it sends the message that drinking is the best way to unwind. Offer dinner guests non-alcoholic drinks in addition to wine and spirits. And take care not to pop pills, even over-the-counter remedies, indiscriminately. Your behavior needs to reflect your beliefs.
Peer Pressure, Make the right friends
Since peer pressure is so important when it comes to kids’ involvement with drugs and alcohol, it makes good sense to talk with your children about what makes a good friend. To an 8-year-old you might say, “A good friend is someone who enjoys the same games and activities that you do and who is fun to be around.” 11 to 12 year olds can understand that a friend is someone who shares their values and experiences, respects their decisions and listens to their feelings. Once you’ve gotten these concepts across, your children will understand that “friends” who pressure them to drink or smoke pot aren’t friends at all. Additionally, encouraging skills like sharing, cooperation and strong involvement in fun, healthful activities (such as team sports or scouting), will help your children make and maintain good friendships as they mature and increase the chance that they’ll remain drug free.
Build up your Child, Praise them
Kids who feel good about themselves are much less likely than other kids to turn to illegal substances to get high.
As parents, we can do many things to enhance our children’s self-image. Here are some pointers:
- Offer lots of praise for any job well done.
- If you need to criticize your child, talk about the action, not the person. If your son gets a math problem wrong, it’s better to say, “I think you added wrong. Let’s try again.”
- Assign do-able chores. A 6-year-old can bring her plate over to the sink after dinner; a 12-year-old can feed and walk the dog after school. Performing such duties and being praised for them helps your child feel good about himself.
- Spend one on one time with your youngster. Setting aside at least 15 uninterrupted minutes per child per day to talk, play a game, or take a walk together, lets her know you care.
- Say, “I love you.” Nothing will make your child feel better.
While kids under age 12 rarely develop a substance problem, it can and does happen. If your child becomes withdrawn, loses weight, starts doing poorly in school, turns extremely moody, has glassy eyes or if the drugs in your medicine cabinet seem to be disappearing too quickly talk with your child. Get help before it is too late. Call Free My Addiction today if you need to find treatment for your son or daughter. We can help your teen recover today.
Teen Drug and Alcohol Rehab Locator