As parents, you are your children’s number one resource when it comes to drug education. You are the number one thing standing in between them and drugs. As with anything else, if you don’t offer them the information and answers they need and want, they will find the answers elsewhere. And, as with most everything else, if they are finding the answers other places, they are likely to be incorrect or harmful answers. Their friends, and even the media, can portray drugs in an incorrect light. And this is not the viewpoint you want them developing about drugs and drug use.
As a parent, you must educate your kids about drugs. But many parents shirk this important responsibility. They are either too uncomfortable, or too ignorant to put a priority on teaching their children about drugs. Instead, they set their children out in the world, unarmed to face this harmful truth: that drugs are out there, and they will be made available to them.
Here are 5 things that some parents are failing to teach their children about drugs:
1. It’s ok to say no.
Many times kids get into drugs simply because of peer pressure. They know that drugs are bad and that they don’t want to do them, but they don’t know how to say no. Parents should teach their children that it really is ok to say no. They should teach their children that not everybody is doing drugs.
As a parent, help your children understand that they don’t have to take part in drugs. Explain to them that most of their peers really will be ok with it if they say no or don’t take part. Help them to understand that, if their friends reject them because they say no, that they can find better friends that will be accepting and understanding of their wish to stay away from drugs.
2. Why drugs are so addictive.
Most kids don’t understand that drugs are extremely addictive, and why they are so addictive. Kids like to understand the truths around them. They thirst for knowledge; they have a want to understand the why’s and the how’s of the world around them. So, help them to understand the why’s and how’s of drug addictions.
Some kids respond very well to knowing why drugs are so addictive. Once they understand the science behind them, or the emotional draws to them, they will have more of an understanding of exactly why you want them to say no. Explain to them the physical and emotional responses and addictions that our bodies have to drugs. If they understand exactly how and why their body can literally become addicted to these substances, they will be better armed to make wiser decisions.
3. There are real consequences.
Kids need to understand that life doesn’t end at 17. They must be able to think past their current life: their current friends, their current opportunities, and their current desires.
Help your kids understand that there are real, long-term consequences to drug use. Explain to them that, if they become addicted to drugs, it can ruin their future and potential. Tell them of the opportunities they can miss out on because of drug use. Explain to them some of the consequences of drug use and addiction.
Also make sure your children understand that drugs are not tolerated in your home. Help them understand that, not only are there long term consequences to their choices to use drugs, but there are also consequences now. Just like they will lose privileges and freedom in the real world when they choose to use drugs, they will also lose freedom and privileges in your home if they choose to use drugs now. Sometimes you may be the only thing standing in the way between your children and drugs. Sometimes they aren’t thinking long-term when they are making their decisions. Sometimes they just don’t want to be grounded. So make sure that they understand that you will give them consequences now if they make those bad decisions. Those consequences in your home could be the reason they choose to stay away from drugs.
4. Drugs aren’t an answer.
Many kids turn to drugs because of stresses in the home, school, with friends, etc. Many of them turn to drugs because of emotions and stresses that they don’t know how to deal with. Be involved and aware in your children’s lives. Help your children through these emotions and stresses. And help your children understand that drugs are not an answer. They aren’t an answer when they are stressed, angry, or depressed. They aren’t an answer when they are wanting to feel more accepted or cool.
Help your children learn ways to deal with stress or hard emotions. Help them work through their problems. Help them to learn skills at problem solving. Help them to find and develop hobbies and talents that can help to keep them away from drugs. Help them learn healthy productive ways to handle the stresses in their lives. Help them build these skills now, so that they will have them as they grow older. Help them to understand that drugs will not take away or solve these problems, they will only make them worse. Work with them. Encourage them. Teach them.
5. You are here for them.
It is important for your children to know that you are here for them. Many kids turn to drugs because of problems in the home. Work to set up good relationships with your children. Spend time with them. Make them a priority in your life. Tell them and show them that you love them.
Let your children know that you are there to answer any questions they may have about drugs, or anything else. Be honest with them. If they ask you if you have ever taken drugs, answer them directly and honestly. Explain to them why you chose not to take part (or not to continue) with drug use. Don’t make them feel stupid or guilty for having these types of questions. Let them know that you are willing to talk to them about anything. Become a resource of knowledge to them. That way, when they have these types of questions, they will go to you for them instead of to their peers.
Also, make sure that your children understand that you love them and are there for them even when they make bad decisions. Give them consequences to the bad decisions they make, but make sure they know that, no matter what, you always love them and will always be there for them. If they make a mistake with drugs (or anything else), make sure to still show them love. If they begin to develop an addiction, help them to find the support and help they need. Make sure that you and your home are always safe, supportive, loving places for them. Consequences are necessary when we make wrong decisions. But so are love and support. If your child makes a mistake with drugs, your love and support may be the reason they stop and don’t continue to an addiction. Try the above before finally trying a drug rehab center.
Nicole is a guest post writer for The Rehab Advisor, where they help people find the right addiction treatment to suit their needs.