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7 Tips For Talking To Your Child About Drugs

Did you know that over 75% of teens aged 16-17 report that obtaining marijuana is 'easy or fairly easy?' Or that 25% of youths between 12 and 17 say the same of crack?
Drug use can lead to a host of significant health, social, learning and behavioral problems at a crucial time in a young person's development. Getting high also impairs judgment, leading to risky decision making on issues like sex, criminal activity or riding with someone who is driving high.
Because experts in substance abuse claim that parents are the principal influence on their teenager's decision to use drugs, the message needs to start with you. Research tells us that kids who maintain an open and honest line of communication are far less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Many parents neglect to broach the subject primarily because they are unsure how to begin. If you would like to start a dialogue with your teen, begin by educating yourself on the different types of drugs available and the risks and dangers of each. Use television programs, anti-drug commercials, or news about drugs to help you introduce the subject in a relaxed, natural way. Then:
- Be absolutely clear with your kids that you don't want them using drugs. Ever. Anywhere. Don't leave room for interpretation.
- Be a better listener. Ask questions and encourage them. Paraphrase what your child says to you. Ask for your children's input about family decisions.
- Give honest answers. Some parents who used drugs in the past choose to lie about it, but they risk losing their credibility if their children discover the truth. This does not mean that you need to recount every moment of your experience 'some details should remain private.
- Ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand exactly what your child is asking, and why, before answering questions about your past drug use, and limit your response to that information.
- Don't react in a way that will cut off further discussion. If your child makes statements that challenge or shock you, turn them into a calm discussion of why your child thinks people use drugs, or whether the effect is worth the risk.
- Role-play with your child and practice ways to refuse drugs and alcohol in different situations. Acknowledge how tough these moments can be.
- Repeat the message.
To further help your child resist the traps of drug and alcohol addiction, experts suggest that you remain current on the drug market and street lingo, set effective guidelines and rules, strengthen your relationship with your child's school, and be a good role model for your teen. For more advice, or to locate the right treatment facility for you, call the Center for Substance Abuse Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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Nicole Brownfield
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