Talking to Kids About Drugs

father and son staring off into sunsetIt is never too early to start talking to kids about drugs. Substance use is part of life and children who talk with their parents about drug use start to form their own opinions. Explanations and early conversations about chewable vitamin tablets are a good place to start. Children may be told that vitamins help children grow and only Mommy or Daddy can give children vitamins. Discussions about vitamins can progress to deeper discussions about other substances as your child grows older. Develop the habit of talking with your child regularly about a variety of subjects.

Educate Yourself

If you know about substances, it is easier to talk to your teen. Scare tactics are not helpful. Learn what you can from the internet or library and talk about the importance of knowing what we put into our bodies. At the same time, acknowledge that some people use substances for pleasure. Share your concerns about the risks involved in substance use. Listen and try to genuinely hear your teen’s views and experiences.

Signs of Drug Use

There is no one specific sign of drug use. Signs of experimentation or regular use of substances may include unexplained physical, mood or behavioural changes. However, these changes are also a normal part of adolescence. Do not jump to conclusions.

Party Safety

You may not be able to stop your teen from alcohol and drug use, especially at parties, however you may be able to provide them with information to keep them safe. You can be clear with your teen about what you think and why. Teens are not adults, you set the rules. Some rules may be negotiable and others non-negotiable.

Make sure the consequences of a broken rule are consequences you are willing to follow through with.

Revise the rules as your teen matures. Ask your teen to make a “party safety plan”. This plan could include always having taxi money, having a friend watch their drink (to make sure no one adds anything), setting limits on drinking and other strategies you and your teen come up with together.

Prescription Medication

Talk to your children and teens about the safety of prescription and over-the-counter medication. Discuss the fact that a doctor prescribes a specific medication for a specific person and what may be safe for one person may not be safe for another. Over-the-counter medication is designed to treat specific symptoms. If a person does not have these symptoms or takes more medication than directed, the medication may be harmful.

If you do not want to lock up medication, keep prescriptions and over-the-counter medications out of sight. It is also important to monitor amounts of medications, even those kept out of sight.