The first thing you will need to do, is to have all the information yourself. The information you will share with your child, will lay the groundwork and, equip them with the skills they will need when confronted with the drug scene. A sharing environment will show your child that you are approachable and happy to talk about drugs, and any peer pressure they might be experiencing. This also shows your child that you have taken the time to find the information that might be helpful to them.
Be ready for the talk. Pre-empt any questions they might have, and have your answers ready. They are bound to ask whether you have used drugs. They don’t need to know the details of your experiences with alcohol and drugs. Put your point of view across about responsible use of the legal drugs like alcohol, and cigarettes. The law states that the safest guideline is to avoid alcohol until a person is 18 years old. Stick with that.
Once again, it’s the old adage – your child will model themselves from your own example. ie responsible drinking, no drink driving, knowing when you’ve had enough to drink, no illegal drugs.
For me, this blog is a no brainer, and one close to my heart. I live in Rockhampton, and the drug problem (particularly ICE) here, and in Yeppoon is huge. Most of you who live here in Australia, would have heard about the mass overdose involving 11 young teenagers in Yeppoon recently. I run a program called The Extend Program which was designed by The Addictive World, to help anybody who has been touched by addiction, PTSD, depression or anxiety. I am also interested in helping our younger generation pull themselves out of this spiraling epidemic that is ruining families and relationships.
There are children being exposed to the ICE epidemic, with 95 children in Central Queensland reported to need protection in the last year, due to a parent’s addiction. The statistics show that 60% of these children were under the age of five, which is devastating for the children and the families.
Drugs takes hostages, and infiltrate whole families, with many families falling through the cracks, fighting their own personal battles, with no means of getting themselves back on track.
I’m particularly targeting the 8-12 year age group here, as this is their most impressionable age. So…. how do you start a conversation with your child about drugs?
- Set aside a quiet time with your child, where you won’t be interrupted
- Ask them what they think about drugs. Be casual about it, in a non judgemental way, and your child is more likely to be honest with you.
- Pay attention to what they have to say. Ask open ended questions.
- Give them some information about the natural drugs such as cannabis and tobacco, and the manufactured products such as ICE. Talk about the psychological and physical changes these drugs can cause.
- It might be your child is uncomfortable about this talk. Let it go, and tell them you are there for them if they ever need to talk about anything
- Television highlights all the bad news – be aware of what they’re watching and what information they’re getting from the media. Make sure they understand the consequences of drug use.
If you find you don’t have the answers to their questions, make it an opportunity for you to research it together. Do the research yourself, if they’re not interested in helping you. Look for the information online. Below are some resources you might find helpful:
- ReachOut clearly describes the different types of drugs (stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens).
- The Other Talk provides facts and evidence for you to explain drugs to your child.
- The Australian Government’s National Drug Campaign has useful responses to teenager’s reasons for using drugs.
I found out a long time ago – there is no script, no rule book for being a parent. Each child is individual, and you know your child better than anybody else. Keep them close, and keep the communication lines open, and you should feel comfortable talking to your child about drugs, when you feel the time is right.