How To Protect Your Children From The Dangerous Use Of Drugs
Do you remember what the drug talk was like when you were growing up? If you’re like many of us, you never had an official “talk.” It was more like your parents nodded in agreement to all the D.A.R.E. pamphlets you brought home from school. Stay away from drugs. This was the general advice we got from adults.
But it wasn’t enough, was it?
Those of us who grew to experiment with drugs and alcohol did so because we wanted to see for ourselves. We had unanswered questions.
And now it’s your turn. We know that knowledge is power, and with that knowledge we’re going to protect our children from the dangerous use of drugs.
Here are some tips for driving the point home and ultimately protecting your children from drug abuse.
Start Talking Early
You don’t need to wait to have conversations about drugs with your child. Children become curious about drugs from the time they’re very young. They don’t know the difference between heroin and ibuprofen, but they have a natural curiosity.
You can start talking to your child about drugs as soon as he or she can understand the concepts of doctors’ appointments and medicine. When kids are toddlers, they understand that medicine can be used to help them feel better or to fix another health problem. At this point, you can talk about the importance of taking the recommended amount, and only when necessary. Until they’re older, just talk about how medicine can have an adverse effect if you take too much or when it’s not necessary.
Encourage Independent Thinking
As parents, we have a natural tendency to “correct” our children’s behavior. But if we can take a step back and allow them to make better decisions, it may be more beneficial in the long run.
Whenever you can, encourage your child to brainstorm problems so that they can figure things out on their own. It’s more work to raise an independent thinker, but they’ll be better equipped to make their own decisions later.
There are no guarantees, of course. But if you’re making all your child’s decisions, following peer pressure is a natural next step when you’re not around.
Naturally, you’ll need to use your best judgment, but give your child choices whenever it feels right to you.
When your children are comfortable with thinking for themselves, they’ll be less likely to succumb to peer pressure when their friends are experimenting with drugs.
Use Every Teachable Moment
Unfortunately, in this current opioid epidemic, we see teachable moments on the news every night. Talk about these tragedies with your children. Talk about how the person was someone’s son or daughter, sister, brother or friend. These were likely good people who were well-loved.
But once they made the unfortunate decision to use drugs, they lost control. Drugs took over and ruined their lives. It could happen to anyone. Addiction does not discriminate.
Arm Them With Information
Our children will learn about drugs from somewhere. Let it be from you. When you teach your kids about drugs, you can have some control over the conversation. Keep it as fact-based and informational as possible.
Talk about how addiction changes the brain over time, and how it does this without the user’s knowledge or consent. In truth, no one knows exactly when they’ll become addicted. Some people can abuse alcohol for years and narrowly escape addiction. Others abuse alcohol for a shorter time and develop a lifelong problem.
This is why it’s so dangerous to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Your friends could be “having a good time,” while you’re spirally into addiction. They’ll walk away unscathed, and you’ll change the course of your entire life.
Your kids should know that they’re more likely to fall victim to addiction if they experiment with drugs and alcohol as teens. Stress that addiction will change their lives. There is no cure for addiction. This is a forever kind-of-thing.
Show Unconditional Love
It’s easy to set rules, but what happens if your kids screw up? What if your teen comes home from a party drunk? It’s also important to handle these situations with empathy and understanding.
If you lose your temper, your child may be less likely to approach you with drug or alcohol-related problems in the future. And that can be dangerous.
Let your child know where you stand on drugs and alcohol, and let them know where they stand with you. If they ever need help, you want them to come to you first.
When it comes to steering your child clear of drugs and alcohol, there is only so much you can do. Just be sure to do your part, and they’ll be less likely to fall victim to addiction later in life.