Watching someone you love suffer with drug and/or alcohol addiction is painful. I’ve watched good people destroy their lives and hurt those closest to them. That’s why I always make time to talk to my children about the dangers of substance abuse. When my daughter was 8 years old and my son was 5, my wife and I began talking to them about substance abuse. We started with a discussion about alcohol and have since moved on to other illicit drugs they may encounter.
My daughter, now 11, is in middle school. In the summer before her 6th grade year, a few of her friends convinced her that kids stand in the halls and force other kids to take drugs. While drug dealers may not be loitering in the hallways, there is still a danger of kids being exposed to drugs while in middle school.
A study by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, states that 1 in 13 sixth graders and 1 in 5 seventh graders have smoked marijuana. In addition, 20 percent of sixth graders have tried inhalants. These substance abuse statistics make me want to lock my daughter in her room until she’s an adult, but I know that’s not the solution. The solution is for me to remain involved in her life and give her the love and support she needs.
In college, I was a drug counselor and I saw how children are affected when they don’t have the proper love and support. Of the many teenagers I worked with, most of them had three things in common:
- They had too much unsupervised time
- They wanted to fit in and impress their friends
- They didn’t have good relationships with their parents.
These were good kids who took some wrong turns in life and didn’t always have involved parents to steer them in the right direction. They longed for affection and a sense of belonging. They found it in drugs. Keeping the doors of communication open is the key to helping your child remain drug free. According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, “Kids who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use than those who do not.”
Therefore, I urge you to be involved in your child’s life. Set expectations, limits, and make sure that they feel comfortable talking to you about any issue. But most importantly, take time to listen. Kids want to be heard and need to know that you will be there for them. Peer pressure and the lure or illicit drugs are strong, but parental love and concern can conquer substance abuse.
Question: Have you talked to your kids about the dangers of drug abuse?