Talking to kids about drug addiction

A guide for how to talk with kids (or teenagers) about drug addiction. Your questions or stories are welcomed at the end.

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Talking to children about drug addiction

The best cure for addiction is prevention. And the best way to prevent an addiction from occurring is by talking to your kids about drug use. It’s better to talk to your children before there is a problem.   The hope is that you can stop addiction problems from developing rather finding yourself say, “My kids is using drugs! What do I do?”  By talking it out early, you can avoid the pain of teenage drug use intervention with your child later on.

While re-counting your own drug misadventures may not be the ticket, being clear about where you stand on drugs will open up a dialogue with your children.  Here are some additional tips on how to talk to kids about drug addiction.

How to talk to kids about drug addiction

1. Talk about the therapeutic benefits of drugs, especially prescription drugs.

First off, kids should know that drugs are not bad. They need to realize that a lot of drugs actually help people but it’s how certain people use drugs that are bad. Although injuries and sickness are terrible things, if you or someone else your kids are around a lot happens to get injured or sick and needs to take medicine, that is a great opportunity to talk to young kids about what it is you’re taking, how you’re taking it and why.

2. Point out consequences of long term drug use.

Drug use has consequences and it’s these consequences that should be pointed out. If you are sick and you properly take drugs that have been prescribed to you, the consequences are that you’ll probably get better. But if you use drugs irresponsibly, the consequences are things like addiction, jail or even worse. It’s also an opportune time to bring up the way some people take medicine or other substances when they don’t need to and that is bad because doing that has seriously negative consequences.

3. Explain the course of addiction.

It’s also important for children to know that addiction is a sickness. Do some reading on drug dependence, addiction, and recovery. Education is key to prevention, so read up on how drug affect the brain and central nervous system. When you are well informed, you can pass on information to your child.

4. Allow your child to see real life examples of addiction.

Fortunately, reality has ways to illustrate these negative consequences. Speak with someone in addiction recovery and have them share their story with your child, or with a group of close friends. Addiction to drugs or alcohol is not pretty. They’ll remember the real person and real consequences of drug abuse when someone offers them drugs or alcohol and hopefully their sense of self-preservation kicks in. The point is to take advantage of these real-life teaching situations instead of just shying away from them in horror as you cover your child’s eyes.

5. Bring it home to their own compulsions.

You don’t even need actual drugs in the equation to talk about addiction. It’s not like drugs and alcohol are the only things people get addicted to. Children nowadays play a ton of video games and are online a lot, at times almost to the point of being an addiction. You can use these addiction-like behaviors as learning tools as much as drugs or alcohol because they, too, have negative consequences like becoming unhealthy or not making friends.

It will help to open their eyes to the fact that addiction doesn’t necessarily have to do with drugs and alcohol. It’s possible to become addicted to anything and it’s possible for anything to cause negative consequences in your life if you let it.

Other ways to speak with kids about drug addiction

These are just a few examples of how you can use things happening in your own life and environment to talk to your kids about addiction. It’s something that every parent should be doing. Think about it this way; drug and alcohol addiction is akin to sex; your kids are learning about it in school (both formally and informally) but do you want a bunch of strangers or the internet to be your kids’ main source of information on the subject? Probably not.

Share your own ideas and experiences in the comments section about talking with your kids about addiction. How do you or did you do it and did it work?

About the author
Lena Butler is a mom, health blogger and customer service representative for TestCountry. TestCountry is a San Diego based point of service diagnostic test service provider that offers a wide range of laboratory and instant testing kit solutions including drug tests, metal toxicity, DNA paternity, food and water tests and hundreds more. TestCountry's tests are easy to use and can be performed at your home or workplace.
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