Talking to your children about serious issues, like drug use, can be a difficult task, but its importance is paramount. Unfortunately, many children will turn to controlled substance abuse at some point in their life for various reasons. This dependence may be caused by several things, but it’s important to understand why your children may do so and approach them from a compassionate, caring place.
When you talk to your children about the dangers of substance abuse, speak from the heart, and stay calm and understanding. Your teen may be afraid to talk to you about this subject, especially if they have gotten seriously involved. Responding to your child’s decision from an angry place can often make them close up. If they’re worried you’ll be angry at them, they will feel the need to hide relevant details. Instead, open up to your child. Talking from your own experience or just explaining why you’re worried is a great way to free up the lines of communication. Being relatable can help develop a sense of trust between both of you, and your child will feel they can talk to you about this issue in the future.
Talk to your child before they get involved with drugs. Bringing up the issue early on can build a healthy foundation between the two of you, and prepare them for a healthy, drug-free future. Remember, as a parent, you can only do so much to protect them from seeing others around them partake in smoking, drinking, and drugs. Don’t be afraid to broach the subject of drugs with your child as early as seven years old. If they happen to see a person smoking on TV or ask you because a friend brought it up on the playground at school, you don’t have to go into grave detail; however, you can let them know how drugs can affect a person and how unhealthy they are in simple language they understand.
As your child enters middle school, ask them how they feel about drugs and use this as a way to talk more about the dangers of drug abuse to establish a solid foundation for high school. By the time they reach high school, you can set a more serious tone, and advise them about the dangers of driving under the influence (Kids Health). When talking to your kids about the dangers of drugs, it’s important to establish a “no judgment” policy with them. They need to know they can always turn to you for help and can trust you with anything. This will make them more comfortable turning to you if they do end up involved with drugs, and they will be more receptive to your help and guidance.
Address Peer Pressure
Often, peer pressure is the primary cause of substance abuse, especially when it comes to gateway drugs like marijuana. Many high schoolers view the drug as harmless – after all, it comes from a plant – but it’s important to talk to your children about the dangers of the slippery slope marijuana brings. It’s important for them to understand the truth behind harmful substances like marijuana. Talk to your children about how something seen as a “harmless” or “non-addictive” drug can really hold the potential for being a dangerous substance. But most importantly, express to them how you only worry because you love them.
Around 30% of people who use marijuana develop marijuana use disorder and marijuana can cause memory issues and inebriation, similarly to alcohol (National Institute of Drug Abuse). Getting behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana can be particularly dangerous, as it affects your child’s ability to react, which can cause an accident. If you suspect your child is using marijuana, don’t delay. Talk to them. This may be a difficult discussion, but talking is the first step towards recovery.
Still feel you need more confirmation? Seeking a simple drug test to confirm drug use can often be embarrassing and awkward, especially for your child. Fortunately, at-home drug test kits, such as HairConfirm, provide a reliable, anonymous way to detect the problem. When approaching the subject of a home drug test, remind your child that it serves a good purpose and you still love and trust them to avoid the feeling of distrust towards you.
Substance abuse is truly a difficult subject, but approaching it from a calm and understanding place can help both you and your child open up and have a heartfelt, meaningful conversation.
Serhat Pala is co-founder of HairConfirm.com, which manufactures and distributes instant drug and diagnostic health tests and helps businesses create and manage effective drug testing programs. Currently, he works as Chief Advisor to the company while he pursues other entrepreneurial and charitable interests. You can connect with Pala on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.