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Talking to Your Kids About Drugs and Alcohol

Talking to your kids about drugs, alcohol and other addictions is very important and can't start too early. Learn what to say here.

Our children are exposed to all manner of threats to their wellbeing, personal safety, and development. From drug abuse, smoking, gangs and school violence to online pornography, sexual experimentation - and the list is endless. Their peers, the media and other outside influences challenge their resolve relentlessly.

Do You Know the Warning Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse?

Talk to your kids about drugs, tobacco, and alcohol

It is difficult for many kids to "just say no" to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Everyone wants to fit in, and today drugs and alcohol are more readily available to kids than ever before. Telling children and teens to just say no to drugs simply is not enough. They must be encouraged to reject drugs because it is the right thing to do, not just because you told them to say no. After years of research, it has been proven that young people can be positively influenced by knowing the risks and dangers of drug use long before they might start experimenting. Children who don't have the facts about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are at a far greater risk of trying them.

Talking about awkward issues like drugs and alcohol is difficult for parents and children, but retreating from such discussions can leave children unprepared to deal with their peers - and that can be perilous. Help yourself and help your kids by:

  1. Get the facts. A great start is that you are reading this!
  2. Ask your child's school what is being taught about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco so that you can reinforce these lessons at home. Drug, alcohol and tobacco education is a part of a national curriculum in science classes.
  3. Share your views with your kids and explain why you believe what you do. Make it clear that drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are simply not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
  4. Talk to other parents, especially the parents of the children your kids play with as this can create a cohesive approach

If young people are given guidance and information from people they trust (you, teachers, etc.), they will be less likely to make the wrong decisions about using these substances. Don't be afraid to role-play with your children. Help them develop skills to resist the peer pressures they will most certainly encounter later.

Parents, take some time to browse around. Learn the warning signs and investigate professional sources for support and treatment.

What Are Gateway Drugs?

A gateway drug is a drug that opens the door to the use of other, harder drugs. Gateway drugs are typically inexpensive and readily available. While there is no guarantee that a youngster will make the leap from gateway drugs to far more toxic and dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines, cocaine, or heroin, research suggests that in the majority of the cases they will not.

Still, who wants to roll the dice with their youngster's health and future happiness? Most addicts began their downward spiral with the gateway drugs; very few youngsters or adults jump right into hard drugs. Keeping children free and clear of the gateway substances for as long as possible is your mission.

(excerpt from "The Official Parents Guide" by Glenn Levant, President and Founding Director, D.A.R.E.)

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2008, November 4). Talking to Your Kids About Drugs and Alcohol, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/addictions/talking-to-your-kids-about-drugs-and-alcohol

Last Updated: August 15, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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