Talking with a teenager about drugs and drug abuse can be difficult, especially if you think he or she might have a problem with them. It can be a touchy subject that can offend and hurt feelings. But as a parent, your concern for your teenager is obviously more important than worrying about whether or not they don’t like what you have to say.
In fact, one of the most effective ways to help your teens avoid drugs is to simply discuss it with them. You may be asking yourself how to do this. What is the best way to talk about drugs with your kids and how can you relate the message of just how serious drug abuse is? Here are three things to discuss:
Relate Your Own Experience
Ever heard your teen say something along the lines of “Well, you just don’t understand. You’ve never been around drugs and people who use them before.” Consider your own experience with drugs. If you’ve abused them, you likely have some negative stories to tell in regards to their effects on you. Be frank and open. Tell of the battles you faced as a result of your poor choices. If you made wise choices in your youth and avoided drugs, tell your teen about that. Give reasons why you made the decisions you did and the situations you faced as a result. Tell how your life might have been different if you had chosen otherwise. Basically, let your teen know you are human and understand. This open, honest communication goes a long way with kids (or anyone, for that matter.)
Discuss Peer Pressure
A major reason teens start abusing drugs is because “everyone is doing it.” At least that’s what they think. It’s so important that you discuss peer pressure with your kid. When a teen can analyze peer pressure and understand what it really is, he or she is a lot more likely to recognize it in real social gatherings. Ask your teen how he or she has been affected by peer pressure and if it has ever led to negative results in the past. Helping them realize that peer pressure does not lead to “being cool” can also help your child think straight and avoid situations that lead to poor choices and uncomfortable situations. Help your teen recognize the importance of making good friends.
Sometimes the media glorifies the use of drugs and drug abuse. There are movies, songs, and Internet materials that would lead a teen to think drugs are the way to go. You can help your teen become a critical thinker and ask questions like “what does this movie tell you about drugs? Is it true?” or “What are these lyrics persuading you to do?” Becoming an independent, critical thinker is key to helping your teen make smarter decisions in every area of life, including those related to drugs.
The fact is that drugs are out there. They can be found from kids at school or at social gatherings. Talking with your teen is the most effective way to keep him or her safe.