The number of teenagers who take drugs is on the rise, according to information from the NSW government, with 3.4% of teenagers admitting to using ecstasy in recent years. Teenagers who use drugs not only run the risk of being convicted for drug offences, they are endangering their health and future. As a parent, it is very important that you talk to your teenagers about drugs, and the effects they can have – but this can be a difficult subject to raise. Here are some suggestions to help you broach the topic, and hopefully make your children feel comfortable to talk to you about drugs.
- Learn what you can about drugs yourself, so that you have an idea what you are talking about. You can’t educate your child about drugs if they know more than you.
- Pick your time. Find a time when you are alone and relaxed to bring up the subject, not in the middle of a heated argument or over the dinner table with the rest of the family. Sometimes if you are watching TV something might come on the news, which can be a good opportunity to mention the topic without making your child feel defensive or like you are accusing them of anything.
- Make sure the conversation is two way. Asking your child their opinion on drugs is more productive than delivering a lecture, which it is likely they will tune out.
- Be active in your children’s lives. By showing interest in them and participating in regular activities with them, you can foster a nurturing and supportive relationship and give them opportunities to confide in you about anything that might be troubling them.
- Remember your children are more likely to come to you if they feel they have a drug problem if you are supportive, caring and non-judgemental, so try to foster an environment of open and honest communication at home.
- Let your teenagers know that you will be there for them if they need help, for instance that you will come and pick them up if they are stuck somewhere late at night and can’t get home.
- Make sure they understand the long-term consequences of drug use on their future. Long-term drug use can affect their health and their ability to conduct their everyday lives. Drug charges can lead to a criminal record, which can affect their ability to get a job, or even to travel.
Conversations about drugs can start in the preteen years, and can be a good way to lay the groundwork for future communication. It is important that your children feel they can talk to you about drug use, without you getting angry and them feeling that you are not supportive of them.
As a parent, it is important that you are a good role model for your child when it comes to drug and alcohol use.
Make sure you are not indulging in unhealthy habits and setting a bad example for your children, or it is more likely they will follow suit. There are a number of ways parents can help discourage teenagers from using drugs. If you suspect your child is involved with drugs, don’t ignore your feelings, talk to your child and if necessary seek professional advice.