Talk With Your Kids About Drugs and Alcohol

Cîroc? Check.

Marijuana? Check.

VIP Guest? Check.

For today’s hip, hot and wealthy teens, this pretty much sums up a fun night out on the town.

Living in a celebrity-centric community, it’s almost impossible to ensure that your teenager stays clear of drugs and alcohol. As your children get older, these “mood enhancers” naturally become more accessible within their social circles. As a concerned parent you may find yourself conducting routine checks of their car, bedroom, and even sniffing out their clothes for traces of drugs or alcohol; anything that you believe that will save them from spending their youthful days in a rehab and medical center. It helps to be proactive. However, rather than sneaking around their backs, it helps to be more vocal.

Healthy communication undoubtedly is one of the best methods to ensure that your teenager chooses a drug-free path that will lead them to a successful future. Children who are not properly informed are likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol, or seek answers about these substances from the wrong crowd. And, like the popular saying goes, “kids live what they learn,” it’s only right that they learn from you.

The Importance of Parental Influence

You don’t have to be a communication specialist to know that most teenagers prefer to spend time talking past and at their parents rather than to or with them. Chalk it up to hormones, high school stress or fear of their parents. Whatever the reason, one thing that’s certain is that many teenagers aren’t big on communicating with their parents. However, as parents it’s important to be able to talk honestly and openly with your teenager to help then handle stress, cope with peer pressure, doubtfulness and foster self-confidence.

As stated by the National Crime Prevention Council, “young people are less likely to get involved with drugs when caring adults are a part of their life.” Numerous research has also proven that teenagers who communicate with their parents regularly are 50% less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than those who hardly communicate with their parents.

Teen drug addiction is a growing problem and as a parent there is a lot you can do to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse in teens. Fostering supportive and close family relationships, having open and honest conversations, teaching responsibility, encouraging positive attitudes and letting them know that their actions and choices have consequences, can help to determine whether or not they end spending time at a rehab and medical center.

Start While They’re Young

It’s never too early to start! This is the attitude you should have when it comes to talking to your teenager about drugs and alcohol. Teenagers go through several stages as they approach adulthood and what’s appropriate to tell your 18-year-old and 13-year-old may differ in some ways. Nonetheless, the earlier you start talking to them, the more influence you will have on their life choices. Curiosity is a natural part of being a teenager and keeping them informed may stop them from experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

More than their peers or the internet, strive to be their main sources of reliable (and factual too) information on alcohol and drugs from an early age. Make use of teachable moments, whether you’re watching a movie, the news or reading about drug related issues in the paper, try to start a conversation that will get them talking. You don’t need to have all the answers; you just need to be there to listen to their concerns and encourage good attitudes. In doing so, your teenager will feel more comfortable talking to you about drugs and alcohol rather than relying on friends or media source that glorify substance abuse, paying little attention to the negative effects it can have. Below are a few things to keep in mind when talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol.

It’s important to listen: You may feel the need to always tell your teenagers what to do. And, because of this you may spend less time listening to their concerns. As parents, it’s important for your teenagers to know that you are listening to them and care about what they have to say.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Talk with teenager about their interests, peers and feelings – and remember, listening is important. Try as hard as you can to engage them in conversations that requires much more than a yes or no answer.

Establish rules as well as expectations: make your expectations clear to your children when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Let them know that you expect them not to abuse drugs or alcohol and that you trust them not to. Inform them of the severe emotional and medical effects of substance abuse and set consequences for breaking the rules.

Be a role model: “Research shows that children with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs are more likely to try alcohol or drugs and develop alcoholism or drug addiction” according to the National Institute On Drug Abuse For Teens. Though the majority of these children do not develop alcoholism or addiction themselves, many have behavioural problems that may lead to regular substance abuse.