Is there any parent who, at some point, does not worry about the notion of their child falling into bad habits with drugs, be they prescription or otherwise? We all know how far they can throw a life off track, but how do you approach the topic with your teenager in a way that goes beyond simply telling them ‘no?’ Here, we’re going to look at how to talk about drug abuse in a more measured and, hopefully, more effective way.
Be clear and be early with your messaging
You might not want to come across as overly strict or “lame” as a parent, but the sooner you inform teenagers about the dangers of drugs, the more likely those lessons are to stick in. Aside from talking to them about drugs early, you should be precise in what rules you are setting. If you set the tone that experimentation is okay, they’re more likely to use. If your rules are vague, such as “be smart” or “be careful,” then their idea of careful might be only taking a few drinks as opposed to getting blackout drunk, when what you really want to say is “don’t drink.” Sites like https://scholastic.com will have plenty of resources you can share with them.
Making mental health the priority
Some drug use and abuse can be purely recreational, be it a product of peer pressure, curiosity, or thrill-seeking, all relatively normal impulses for a lot of teenagers. However, self-medication is much more frequently tied to drug abuse, and often people are trying to medicate issues such as depression, severe stress, anxiety, and so on. Take the time to talk to your teen about their mental health if you think they have been acting out lately, whether it’s by showing unnecessary aggression, becoming more isolated and introverted, or displaying new anxieties or fears that weren’t there before. We all too often chalk up changes in the teenage years to simple puberty, but mental health issues do become a lot more common at that age.
Make an environment of accountability
No parent wants their kid to feel like they cannot trust them. As such, suddenly starting to keep an eye on them out of the blue can make them feel like they’re under interrogation and, as a result, make them more likely to hide behavior than anything. Create an environment of sharing and accountability, where your teenager knows that you expect to share with them aspects of their personal life, and feel comfortable doing so. More effective ways of keeping tabs on them, as shown at https://knowtechie.com, can include making sure you have device-free quality time together, asking specific questions about their day, saying hello to their friends when they visit and talking to coaches and teachers about their behavior occasionally.
Creating a safe haven
There is a chance that your teenager may, in the future or already, be involved with drug use and abuse. There are a lot of natural reactions to experience, from sorrow to anger, but you have to be careful with how you treat the matter. If you react explosively, it can lead to them closing themselves off, feeling more scared about confiding than anything. Be ready to listen, to not diminish their problems, and with potential solutions, such as visiting the doctor or looking at treatment centers like https://enterhealth.com/. Someone who is facing drug abuse problems needs to take that first step themselves, so your role should be to encourage and facilitate as best as possible the path ahead.
Should you share your experiences?
You may have your own experiences with drug use or abuse in the past, whether it’s with alcohol, prescription medication, or something else. Many parents do face a dilemma where, when broaching the topic, they find the questions turned on them and don’t know how to respond. Shutting down the conversation creates a feeling of hypocrisy that can damage your credibility. You can choose whether or not to share your history with your teen. However, it is important that you have an answer prepared. If you are going to share your history to help them avoid making regrettable decisions, you can share, but do not glamorize the matter.
Talking about subjects as heavy as drug use and abuse is never easy. However, it is important to start with the priority of honesty and forgiveness first. You want to make it easier for your teenager to open up to you if they ever do experience trouble and need help.