The impulse to shield their children from the world’s cruelties leads many parents to delay talks about tough topics like drugs and alcohol. Often, parents don’t know what to say or are at a loss about trends and forms of drugs.
Not knowing much about illicit substances, including the legality, health effects, appearance or how they could affect a person can make it impossible for teenagers to know what to do if they are offered drugs or alcohol.
Talking to your teenagers beforehand, even to children as young as 10 years old, can help them know what to do and how to think about these types of situations. Here are ways to approach these tricky conversations with the young people in your life.
Underage drinking and drug trends
Increasingly, teens are exposed to or offered drugs at school or by their peers; some have already used marijuana by age 12, a national study found.
"By age 15, about 33 percent of teens have had at least one drink. By age 18, about 60 percent of teens have had at least one drink," found another study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse .
Because alcohol is the most used drug by underage people in the United States, and drunk driving or alcohol poisoning claims so many lives each year, underage drinking has been called a major public health challenge .
Increasingly, the abuse of common cold medicines or prescription drugs is becoming common in teenagers. Because parents often leave these substances out, and they are readily available, their abuse is especially concerning.
Speaking to your kids
It's up to every parent to decide the right time to talk about drugs and alcohol. However, because statistics point to early ages as the time when most kids are offered drugs, many experts advise approaching the subject earlier rather than later, or even beginning conversations at a young age to open the topic, and then elaborating in more detail about cigarettes , drugs and alcohol as they get older.
Knowing facts and talking about reactions to scenarios involving drugs and alcohol increases the likelihood teens will make good decisions that will lead them to happy and healthy futures, psychologist Lisa Damour said.
Talking to your kids or even role-playing specific situations they will likely encounter as they age can give them the tools they need to make good decisions in the future.
Resources you can use
Luckily for parents, there are many teaching resources online , with information about drug names and trends, to prepare for these kinds of conversations.
When you have a frank relationship with your kids, they will be more likely to come to you about problems they face in the future.
If you notice signs of alcohol abuse in your teen, you don't have to deal with them alone. Call the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority crisis hotline 24/7 at 800-241-4949 or visit dwmha.com for more information on prevention, treatment and recovery services.
Here to talk. Here to help.