Drug and alcohol use is an important topic that parents must address with their children. Whether or not parents feel that their child is susceptible to the lure of drugs, it is an essential conversation. Even the best-behaved children will most likely encounter drugs and face the decision of turning them down or accepting them. Because of the numerous ill-effects associated with drugs, parents must communicate with their children in an effective manner. However, parents must also understand how to go about starting the conversation. Here’s a guide on how to talk to teens about drugs and alcohol.
How to Talk to Teens About Drugs and Alcohol: Starting the Conservation
Parents and legal guardians of children should begin discussing the negatives of drugs and alcohol as early as possible. In fact, children as young as two years old can begin associating drug use with being bad. The key to starting conversations is to approach the discussion in an age-appropriate way. For younger children, use examples on television as a way of expressing that alcohol or drug use are bad.
Explaining the Negative Effects of Drugs & Alcohol
When wondering how to talk to teens about drugs and alcohol, honesty is the best policy. Parents shouldn’t try to sugar-coat the negative effects that they have. Because young minds are still developing, extreme drug usage has the ability to damage a child’s thinking and learning abilities. As a result, the child’s education and ability to perform activities such as sports may suffer. While taking drugs or drinking, there are also other more immediate consequences. Alcohol and/or drug use can result in sexual activity that could end in pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. For teens able to drive, it can also cause a fatal accident.
Saying No to Peer Pressure
When talking to kids, parents must consider the power of peer pressure and include it in the discussion. Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator for certain kids who feel the desire to fit into a certain group. If this group of children or teens uses drugs or alcohol, they may encourage one’s child to do the same. If the child refuses, the group may scorn or reject him or her. Acceptance, particularly for teens, is important and peer pressure can be one of the greatest hurdles that a parent faces when fighting to prevent their child from doing drugs.
Kids may also feel a form of peer pressure from things such as television and magazines that push a certain lifestyle as being cool, exciting and fun. Parents should talk with their kids and help them to say no to peer pressure. This is often easier said than done. Encourage children to stick with what they know to be right and wrong and to acknowledge that what their peers are doing makes them feel uncomfortable. Help them find different ways of saying “no” to the people who are trying to persuade them into drinking or using drugs, even if that means using their parents as an excuse.
Parents will also want to help them realize that anyone who requires them to do something that they are uncomfortable with is not a friend or someone who they should want to be friends with. Encourage him or her to seek out friends who share the same values, beliefs, and interests. Actively assist children in raising their self-esteem by praising their accomplishments and encouraging them to do more of the things that they enjoy and/or excel at.
Parents must understand that despite their efforts there is still the possibility that their child will try alcohol or drugs at a party, the prom, or even at a friend’s house. Although the goal of the conversation is to encourage teens to not use drugs or drink, parents also want to ensure that their kids are safe at all times. Although they should not waver in their stance of no drug or alcohol use, they should also be realistic. Kids should understand that if they do drink or experiment with a drug they should under no circumstances drive or get in the car with someone who has also used drugs.
Instead, encourage them to call for a ride with no questions asked at the time that he or she is picked up. Parents will want to assure their teens that they will not be punished for making the call and shouldn’t be scared to do so. They should be made to understand that in those situations, their safety is of the utmost importance.
Keeping Lines of Communication Open
The initial conversation between parents and their kids shouldn’t be the only conversation that they have on the topic. Parents will want to stay involved in their kid’s life without seeming overly intrusive. Casual questions should be asked over shared dinners or while traveling together as a family. Kids should be encouraged to come to their parents if they have any worries or questions. Parents will want their kids to know that they are always available to listen and that they will handle any future situations fairly and calmly. This will encourage kids to be more open and honest without fear of repercussions.
Additional Tips on How to Talk to Teens About Drugs and Alcohol
Parents want their children to trust them enough to come to them if they are intoxicated, but they will also want to establish clear rules. Although they recognize that a child may slip and try alcohol or drugs, they do not want to give the impression that they approve of or find it acceptable. Parents and their teens should sit down and draft out rules regarding drug use and what the consequences are if they should use them. Involving kids in this step will make them feel included and it will add another level of personal responsibility. While talking, parents will want to learn what activities their kids are interested in and discuss signing them up for them. Teens who are busy doing activities that they enjoy will also be less inclined to drink or experiment with drugs.
In addition to talking with teens, there are several additional ways that parents can help keep them drug and alcohol-free. Spending quality time together on shopping trips and family outings is one way to do this. Another is to get to know their kid’s friends, their friend’s parents, and their stand on drug and alcohol use. To prevent drinking at parties, offer to host the parties instead; this way parents can be confident that no alcohol is being served and can keep a watchful eye out for drug use.
Questions on How to Talk to Teens About Drugs and Alcohol?
Located in Irvine, California, Morningside Recovery offers comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment programs for teens. Whether it’s in the form of early intervention or if drinking is already a big problem, our compassionate professionals are ready and willing to listen.
We offer a number of addiction therapy services for teens and their families, including:
- Family therapy
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- 12 step recovery program
- Non 12 step rehab treatment options
Knowing how to talk to teens about drugs and alcohol is an important part of being a responsible parent. However, you also have the power to get your kids help. Call Morningside Recovery today at 855-631-2135.