It’s always going to feel like it’s “too soon” to talk to your kids about substance abuse, but more and more young people are experimenting with drugs and alcohol before understanding the consequences of their actions. For parents, the prospect of having a child become addicted to alcohol or drugs is terrifying and the ever-growing rate of dependency both nationally and abroad isn’t quelling any fears.
It’s important for parents to discuss substance abuse and addiction with their children, whether they have already begin to experiment with substance abuse, are showing signs of dependency, or whether the discussion is to be preemptive and preventative.
Being more informed and aware of the dangers of substance abuse could prevent many adolescents and teens from developing substance abuse disorders that would likely ruin their lives.
The following is a concise guide for why and how you can talk to your kids about substance abuse.
Why Talk to Your Kids About Substance Abuse and Addiction?
In Westernized societies, adolescence is a time of great turmoil. Unfortunately, the turmoil of adolescence isn’t a biological inevitability, but rather a product of our media-focused, appearance-obsessed, borderline-hedonistic culture full of reality television and unnecessary, predatory consumerism (re: the Snuggie.)
During the period that begins roughly at age 12 and continues throughout high school and oftentimes even through one’s college years during the early 20s, adolescents embark on a tumultuous, messy quest for self-discovery. This is a period of rapid change during which teens will fall in love with a person, thing, or concept and then become obsessed with something completely different the next day. However, this is also the time during which their immature minds are maturing and they’re figuring out their interests, skills, likes and dislikes, and planning for their futures.
Youths are one of the groups who are considered to be at major risk for substance abuse. While it’s less common for adolescents to actually become addicted than other age groups, it’s during adolescence that many individuals will begin to experiment with substance abuse, trying substances like alcohol, marijuana, and prescription pain medication for the first time.
Additionally, it’s been found that approximately 64 percent of children have learned about alcohol by the fifth grade, sparking a curiosity that may or may not continue to grow as they continue in school. It’s important to have a discussion with adolescents about the dangers of substance abuse and addiction to ensure that they are informed about the harsh realities of addiction.
Children often associate substance abuse with the intoxication they see portrayed in the media, but they should be made aware of the devastation that substance abuse wreaks on individuals’ lives. And while many adolescents appear to care little about what their parents say or think, statistics have found that at least 71 percent of adolescents and teens actually value their parents’ opinions.
When Is a Good Time to Have “The Talk”?
Determining when is the right time to talk to your child about substance abuse is the trickiest part and will vary from one family to the next. However, generally speaking adolescents often begin to deal with peer pressure when they are in junior high, so a good rule of thumb would be to discuss substance abuse with children as they enter junior high or perhaps during junior high. However, some inquisitive children may begin to ask questions early.
Only a child’s parents will ever know with certainty when is the most appropriate time to discuss substance abuse and addiction. Moreover, this talk could be broken into two separate talks with the dangers of substance abuse—intoxication, hurting others or being hurt by someone under the influence, breaking laws, and so on—being discussed initially and then having a discussion about addiction as well as its various effects and dangers.
How to Talk to Your Kids About Substance Abuse
Especially during the adolescent and teenage years, parents’ talks with children are often more like preaching or lecturing rather than a conversation or discussion. This is largely due to with parents’ tendency to take the offensive as a reflex since teens aren’t often receptive to the views, opinions, and values of their parents, particularly when they’re unsolicited.
In fact, about 75 percent of parents admit that talks with their adolescent and teen children inadvertently come out as lectures rather than as conversation. As such, it’s important for parents and their children to have a back-and-forth exchange, which can occur by encouraging one’s children to ask questions or offer feedback.
Additionally, when parents talk to their children about substance abuse, it’s important to have become thoroughly informed so that they can offer actual facts that than merely opinions. The information conveyed will be received more readily by children who perceive that their parents are offering facts rather than their own views.
Worried About Your Child? Call Us for Help
While youths are a major risk group for substance abuse, anyone could fall prey to alcohol and drugs, developing an addiction that requires extensive treatment and ongoing effort to overcome. If you are having difficulty trying to talk to your kids about substance abuse, we can help you.
If you or someone you love are suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about the available treatment options, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here to help. Call (855) 619-8070 today to speak with one of our recovery specialists for a free consultation and assessment. One phone call can begin your journey of recovery, allowing you to regain your health and happiness once again.