Families and ...
"Drugs? Not in my house. Not in my community. Not my kid." When confronted with the subject of drugs, this is what many parents are probably going to say. Yet statistics show that drug use among junior high and high school students has been increasing since 1991, with marijuana use showing the biggest increase. Approximately 43% of America's teens say it's easier to buy marijuana than cigarettes. Over 58% of America's youth have been asked to buy marijuana (Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and the Partnership for a Drug-Free Illinois). In addition to the immediate health risks of being a drug user, drug use also tends to bring with it an increased amount of violent crime.
So what can parents do to help insure that their kids will be drug-free? The formula may be as simple as Stop, Look, Listen, and Talk. Stop thinking that you can't make a difference. Only 58% of parents who have regularly used marijuana consider it a crisis when their child under 15 smokes marijuana. Interestingly, 95% of parents claim to have had a drug-free discussion with their children, yet almost 40% of teens say they've never talked with their parents. You are the most important role model your child has. Your caring and constant communication goes a long way.
Look at your child. Is your child drug-free? If so, keep the communication lines open and continue to offer your support and encouragement. Some warning signs of drug use include dropping grades, severe mood swings, withdrawal, and spending time with a new group of friends that you feel are users.
Listen to your child's needs. Among the reasons kids have given for drug use are to feel grownup, to take risks and rebel, to fit in, to relax and to satisfy a curiosity. Finally, talk to your child. It is the single most important and effective means of preventing drug use with your children.
Reading, Watching and Listening List
Consult your local library to find these resources:
Dimoff, Timothy. (1992). "How to Tell If Your Kids Are Using Drugs." Facts on File. New York.
Milhorn, Howard T. (1994). Drug and Alcohol Abuse: The authoritative guide for parents and teachers. New York: Plenum Press.
Growing Up Drug Free: A Parent's Guide to Prevention
Family Works in Action
How to talk to kids about drugs:
If you have never used drugs, reinforce your drug-free lifestyle, and encourage your kids to follow your example.
If you've experimented, say that drugs today are more dangerous and explain the risks. If asked, be honest. Communicate to them that you were wrong, and they should avoid drugs at all costs.
If you are using, get help for yourself first of all. Admit that drug use is wrong. Communicate with your kids. Tell them you're getting help, and if they're using, offer them the same opportunity.
Showing you care can go a long way with your child.