Talking to your teens about drug and alcohol abuse doesn’t have to be difficult. References about substance abuse almost always appear in headlines, advertisements, movies and TV shows. Take advantage of these every day opportunities to start such conversations with your teens.
- Provide Age-Appropriate Information
When drug terms are used in conversation or in media, ask your child whether they know what it means. Inform them that they are addictive and can harm the body severely in many ways. If they ask for more information, make sure to provide instead of saying ‘I don’t know.’ The older your kids, the more information they may ask. Make sure you yourself is well-educated about drug and alcohol use and up-to-date with drug street names and the effects they cause to the body. While we don’t always know the answers to their questions, but the more facts we provide early on, the more aware your teen will be.
- Emphasize Your Family Values
Express to your teens how you feel about alcohol and drug consumption and what’s acceptable to the family. Say something like, “In the family, nobody should take drugs unless the doctor or mum and dad say so. It’s not safe to take one yourself without adult supervision” or “Your granpa and grandma did not allow us to take alcohol until we’ve reached adulthood. It’s not good for the body, especially for young people like you.” If your teen has questions, try your best to answer them.
- Be a Good Role Model
Make sure to show your children what you preach. Avoid excessive drinking if you want them to grow as responsible drinkers later on. Avoid drinking every night if you don’t want them to be just like that, and make the effort to offer both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages if you have guests at home to show your kids that what you drink is optional. If you’re taking lots of tablets and vitamin supplements, if possible do not show this to the kids; be more discreet with taking your prescription drugs.
- Trust Your Teens
Give your teens a chance to choose between right and wrong. If they break the rules, punish them appropriately. When they choose to do the right thing, praise them and let them know that they’re trustworthy. If you often say ‘no’ to your kids or forbid them to go out, they will likely do the opposite and break your rules.
Perhaps, you’re wondering when the right time is to start talking about drug and alcohol consumption to your teens. In today’s generation, teens—as early as thirteen—are already exposed to these things. Gradually increase your children’s awareness as they get more curious about this important matter.