Drug addiction is something that seems to be a generational plague in my family. I was raised by an addict, who was raised by an alcoholic and an enabler. I could go up further in my tree, but you get the point. Many people know that I’m also a person in recovery from drugs and alcohol. More specifically, I was the type of addict that would use anything to get high, and did. However, my bottom came after years hopelessly addicted enslaved to prescription drugs. I feel just to have the talk with you here and now, by not having it!
I have three children of my own. They are my ‘why’ and have been my fuel to break these nasty cycles
that have wrecked so many souls in our family.
My oldest is thirteen. He is at a critical age. I put a lot of thought into my prevention methods, for obvious reasons.
I do believe that addiction is a biological, sociological, and psychological disorder. It impacts your whole person. So when I attempt to do what is in my power to prevent my children from becoming interested in doing drugs- I take that into consideration.
I thought I would share my thoughts on prevention methods with you. These are tips, and other things to remember if you are talking with young people about prevention.
So without further ado, here are 15 tips, pieces of advice, or things to remember:
1. Do NOT have ‘The Talk’.
Don’t. Have many, age appropriate, relatable, interactive, open, discussions.
2. Keep in mind, discussions are two-way streets.
Don’t talk at them, talk with them. Have a conversation. They are humans. Teachable, capable, valuable, humans.
3. Try not to audibly or physically freak out when they know more than you think they know.
I know for me, I had no idea that the talk about drug use and alcohol use happened so early.
4. Use everyday life to take advantage and ignite small talk.
You would be surprised at how many ways you can subtly talk about why you shouldn’t use ever use drugs or drink alcohol underage. The more you talk openly about these topics, the more likely they are going to come to you if a very real problem, question, or offer arises.
5. Promote health at home.
We can be subtle about making it a point to teach our young people about their bodies, and the importance of their body being strong and healthy. We don’t have to go vegan, gluten free, or become obsessive. Do what is right for your family, but implement healthy components that work best for yours. Explain to them that we only get one body and we have to learn how to take care of it.
6. Help your teen process emotions.
This is a biggie. This is one that I draw from my personal experience for. Teens are going through so many changes in school, and within themselves. They are going to go through things that they don’t understand, and things that they aren’t sure how to process. The positive and negative emotions will be running high, and we have to help them navigate. We can help them to learn healthy ways of dealing with anger, sadness, disappointment, happiness, and excitement. There are a number of reasons that a teen might experience these emotions, but we have to help them figure out what to do with them. Their ability to cope with emotion can play a key role in their decision to try drugs or not someday.
7. Build their self-confidence and encourage them to love who they are.
This one is pretty simple, but often we assume that because we tell our children that they are awesome, they think they’re awesome too. Check in with them. Periodically ask them how they are feeling about themselves, or how they view themselves. Let them know that you see this incredible, able human and you are so excited to be their person.
8. Facts. Share the facts with them.
The cold hard truth is this. Ideally, there are a billion of facts that they should know, so I say ration the truths. They need to know that drugs kill people. They kill people the first time, or for some, the hundredth time- but they always kill. I like to explain very carefully that our brains, bodies, and chemical make-up, are all so different. So just because Joe took a certain pill, or just one hit, and Joe was fine…does not mean jack squat for you. That can never ever be a reason to try anything. I explain that many ‘Joe’s ‘ use this as a way to pressure others to try something. Just because Joe is fine, doesn’t mean that will be your story too. Not at all. Explain to them that being cool doesn’t mean anything. My son knows that if cool means possibly dead, or addicted to something- you don’t want to be cool. It’s overrated. In all seriousness, they need to truly feel like they can be them, and cool won’t matter. Another biggie, sometimes saying no doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you have to get up and leave. Sometimes you have to speak up and tell. Sometimes you have to end friendships. End of story.
9. Share news stories with them.
I have shared several news stories of children taking one hit of K2 Spice, and dying or seizing into deep comas that they never come out of afterward. I have shared photos of wrecked vehicles, and other accidents due to drunk driving or driving under the influence. The more we put it into a context that they can see and understand, the better they realize that this is real stuff happening to real people.
10. Explain your why.
Why is it important to you that he/she knows this or understands this information? For me, I explain that I want him to know that this runs in our family for different reasons. That if he were to try drugs or alcohol, he is taking a huge chance. He can clearly see how this has impacted our family. When I was a teen, I hated being told what to do. I was already defiant and knew everything for goodness sakes, but please tell me another story about what will happen if I do drugs. I know not every teen or preteen is as terrible as I was, and my thirteen year old certainly isn’t. I remind him that these talks are not about me wanting to control him or me desperately trying to keep him in this mommy bubble.
11. Whoever you are to them, be that.
If you are their parent, be that. If you are a person of authority or are in charge of them, be that. Don’t be the cool person or the friend. They need clear boundaries, structure, and to be armed with tools in their blossoming toolbox. 12. Don’t forget about the other stuff. Talk about it all. Don’t stop with marijuana or alcohol. These days, kids are tempted with a plethora of crap. Tons. Pills. They tend to not seem scary to kids, especially when they think that since they are from a doctor, they are alright. No drug is okay if it’s not yours, and even then, you cannot take it any way that you want. I don’t even allow my kids to use drowsy medication in fear that they will begin to like it. (I did). So no NyQuil or Benadryl or anything else that they could begin to connect with feeling different, or tired. Sometimes parents forget that household products are heavily abused substances, especially among our young people. Things like duster, gasoline, paint, etc. Our kids need to know that all of these things can kill them.
13. Educate educate educate yourself.
Make sure that you are reading, watching, researching periodically. Keep up with what may be going on in the life of your child. This helps when you do have discussions. You are better able to ask relevant and more pointed questions.
14. Keep a watchful eye on your teen and their mental health status.
I mean it. I am sorry if this offends you, but a large number of teens go undiagnosed for many years. Whether they are quietly dealing with depression, suicidal ideation, cutting, or something else. Many cases of people who end up addicted are people who are eventually dually diagnosed with addiction and an underlying mental health issue. All I am saying is keep your eyes open. Don’t disregard real, red flags that your child may be exhibiting.
15. If you are a parent in recovery, remind them that you are trying to help them do better than you did.
I know for me, I hate thinking that one day, my child will use my behavior to excuse their own. I do my best to explain to them that they are different people, armed with more information than I had at my disposal. I truly want them to take my experiences and use them for something good in their lives.
Overall, our young people just need to know that they have an adult in their corner, who they can have open & honest dialogue with. Keep in mind, these are just my opinions and ways that I handle prevention in my home. I know that we only have control over so much, and that these are just simply tips or simple pieces of advice. I hope that some of these can be of help to someone else.
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