A PARENTS GUIDE FORteaching children ABOUT DRUGS & ALCOHOL NG YOUR T EAC HI I LDR EN CH T DR U GS ABO U L CH O HOL A ND A
Table of ContentsIt’s Time to TalkAn IntroductionSet the ExampleActions You Can Take to Positively Influence ChildrenTalking with Your ChildrenHelp Them Develop Good Decision-Making SkillsWhat Every Parent Should KnowEstablish a Plan for PreventionWhat to Do When Your Child Needs Help
“IT’S TIME TO TALK.”When your children are young, the focus is on helping them grow and develop, learnthrough play and explore their immediate world while keeping them safe and strengtheningthe bond that exists between you. As your children grow and their world expands to theneighborhood, their school and the surrounding community, your concerns for them willnaturally grow as they are exposed to a greater potential of dangers.Talking with your children and teaching them about drugs and alcohol is one of the mosteffective measures you can take toward prevention.The University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that you can begin very basic, age-appropriateconversations about drugs and alcohol withchildren as young as five years old. At this point,a conversation may consist of saying "The peoplein that commercial are acting silly when they drinkbeer, but they have to be careful because drinking You are one of your childrens strongest lines of defense and theirtoo much can be very dangerous. Children shouldnt greatest ally in helping them avoid drink alcohol because its not safe." Discussion these dangers.prompts such as this one will pave the way forquestions and answer sessions that can help you build a foundationof safety and prevention that can be built upon as your children grow olde older.Children as young as nine or 10 years old are exposed to drugs and alcohol, states CentralMichigan University. Around this time many schools begin drug prevention education. Beencouraged to talk with your children once they reach the age of pre-adolescence, but knowthat its not too late if your child is an adolescent or teen. Use this book as a guide to helpyou ensure that you approach your children with the right information, words, body languageand attitude, while also setting an example that supports your effective discussions.
TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT DRUGS & ALCOHOL :AN INTRODUCTIONStatistics show that the majority of children will not use drugs or alcohol. Yet those who dorepresent the staggering numbers of adolescents, teens and their families who are foreverimpacted by alcohol or drug use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 25 percentof teens in the 12th grade will drink alcohol. This same 2011 survey revealed that 7.2 percent ofall 8th grade students smoked marijuana, increasing up to 22.6 percent by the time kids reachthe 12th grade. The study also reports that 15.2 percent of 12th grade teens abuse prescriptiondrugs and, although abuse of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and inhalants has declined, anaverage of eight out of every 100 eighth graders is trying these drugs.averagParenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world,and talking to your kids about drugs and alcoholisnt always easy. But it is important and can makea difference in the lives of your children. Thisbook will help you have a positive and impactfuldiscussion with your children by having you takea look at the influence you have in your childrensdecision-makin processes as well as the attitudesdecision-makingand beliefs they form about substance abuse.Youll also gain tips for talking with your kids,while learning how to teach them to make healthy,responsible decisions for themselves.
TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT DRUGS & ALCOHOL :SET THE EXAMPLETheres a great deal parents can do as positive role models for their children. According to theNational Crime Prevention Council, parents who are positive role models have a tremendousimpact on their children, helping to prevent experimentation with and eventual abuse of drugsor alcohol mainly because their children dont want to let them down. The things you do anddont do communicate to your children just as strongly as the words you say. Even when it seems as if your children arent paying attention, they are and will closely follow the examples you set.Admit Your Mistakes So They Can LearnTheTh Center for Child Welfare asserts that admitting mistakes theyve made is a powerful wayfor parents to role model for their children. In an age appropriate way you can tell your childrenabout a time when drinking too much alcohol or even using too much of a tobacco product madeyou sick and resulted in poor decision-making. Likewise, its important to apologize for mistakeseven when theyre not related to substance abuse. Everyone makes mistakes; by being honest,apologizing and taking action to correct your course you show your children how to do the same.
Actions You Can Take to PositivelyInfluence Children.ThereTher are many ways to reinforce smart deci-sion-making amongst your children. Everythingfrom your communication skills and your levelof involvement, to the values and skills youteach has the potential to positively influenceyour adolescent or teen.These factors all contribute toward positive youthdevelopment which, according to the Universityof Wisconsin, helps your children overcome anyrisk factors that might lead them toward substanceabuse. As you do your part to promote positivedevelopment and growth in your children, you canprevent them from many problematic circumstances,including substance use.•Positive Communication Provided Equally.ThereTher have probably been times when you were awareyour adolescent or teen was tuning you out during aconversation. In all likelihood, he or she felt as if youwere lecturing or admonishing. Positive communicationcreates an atmosphere that encourages your child toremain engaged and responsive during conversations.Its also important to pay attention to how you communicate and interact with other childrenin the family. Make an effort to invest equal time and attention in each child; they will noticewhen you dont.•Get Involved with Childrens ActivitiesTheTh Mayo Clinic finds that being aware of and becominginvolved in your childrens activities can have an impact onpreventing future substance abuse. Offer to volunteer at schoolor afterschool events. As teens get older, they tend to not wanttheir parents around as much. Offset this by becoming involvedin an indirect way. For example, rather than coaching yourchilds team, you can sell snacks in the booth at the end of thefieldfield. Let your child know youre proud of their activity and wantto be involved, even in a small way.
•Set BoundariesAdolescentsAdolescent and teens in particular have a way of testingboundaries. This is a natural part of becoming moreindependent and exploring that independency. Although youwant to encourage your childrens independence, its importantto do so within the confines of appropriate boundaries. Ruleswith fair consequences that are carried out help guide yourchildren toward smart choices while encouraging them to avoidbehaviors that will result in negative consequences. Settingbehaviorand maintaining boundaries helps your children learn to beresponsible for their choices.•Meaningful Use of Time.Teach your children to use their time in meaningful ways bydoing the same so they can learn how to invest their time inpositive activities, instead of engaging in negative activitiessuch as substance abuse. Schedule regular family time anddont let anything interfere with it. Using lame excuses to backout of family time simply communicates to your children thattheyre not that important to you. Engage in health-promoting activities together, such as goingon family bike rides. Demonstrate the importance of giving to others by volunteering, even oncein a while, and including your children in the efforts.•Promote Good Values.Promoting good values within your family helps prevent drug and alcohol use, finds theUniversity of Kansas Community Toolbox. When your behaviors and actions demonstrate the valueof honesty, integrity, self-respect and other healthy characteristics, your children will naturally followin preserving the values that are upheld within the family.•Help Them Develop Social Skills andSelf-Confidence.Good social skills and self-confidence help yourGoo I lo v e y ou!children learn to interact with others in positive ways.Provide your kids with ample opportunities to interactwith others, both children and adults, who will model N ic e J o b ! !appropriate social skills. Affirm your childrens efforts inspecific ways to help cement effective social skills. Forinstance, rather than saying "You did a great job talkingto so-and-so" be specific with words such as "Good job I’m pr ou dusing eye contact and nodding your head when talking of yo u!with so-and-so; that showed her you were listening."Set reasonable limits for activities that do not promotesocial skills, such as video games and the use of socialmedia networks.
Reducing Risks by Promoting Protective FactorsTheTh steps you take toward setting a good example for your children can help them make gooddecisions at home, but these decision-making abilities must extend to the outside world to providethe greatest effect. No matter how well you do at role modeling for your child, he or she willface other potential risk factors in the outside world. The National Institute on Drug Abuse findsthat these risk factors, as well as ones that are present within the home, can be counteracted bypromoting protective factors.Risk Factors That Influence Substance Abuse Amongst ChildrenThe existing balance between protective factors and risk factors impacts your childrenspropensity toward substance abuse, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Althoughits not possible to completely eliminate all risk factors, you can reduce their effects byoutweighing them with protective factors. This list consists of some of the protective factorsthat can help prevent your children from becoming involved with drugs or alcohol.• Able to get along with others easily• Possesses positive self-worth and good social skills• Has a good relationship with parents• Feels connected to surrounding social support systems, including family, school and community• Belongs to a family that does not model risky behaviors• Has friends who are a positive influence• Enjoys an overall positive experience at school• Involved in extracurricular activities• Surrounding community is supportive and caringProtective Factors That HelpPrevent Substance Abuse Amongst ChildrenRisk factors can be present due to the childs personality or behavior.They can also be caused by familial circumstances, situations with peers and issues at school.This list contains some of the factors that can place a child at risk for drug or alcohol use.• Difficulty getting along with others• Presence of mental health issues• Early experimentation• History of substance abuse or other riskybehaviors in the family• Lack of parental support or appropriate boundaries• Friends who pose a negative influence• Difficulty at school• Low socio-economic conditions
Before You Sit Down to TalkPlan ahead for your sit-down discussion so everyone involved will be free to spend the timewithout worrying about work, homework or activities. If you will be speaking with your childrenalong with a partner, its wise to talk beforehand about what you want to say and how you wantto say it. A united front helps to avoid sending mixed messages to your children. Choose a timeof day that helps everyone give their attention to the conversation. Squeezing in a talk at theend of the day when everyone is tired can be counterproductive. The Actual Discussion According Accordin to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., children whose parents talk with them about alcoholism and drug abuse are 50 percent less likely to use these substances. Clearly, you can make a big impact on your children through conversation and open discussions. A conversatio productive conversation involves more than talking, and children will be more receptive when you talk with them, rather than at them. The following considerations will assist you when the time comes to have an actual conversatio conversation with your children.•Starting the Conversation.Begin by explaining the reasons why you want to talk to yourchildren about drugs and alcohol. Adolescents and teensmay greet the opening of your conversation by rolling theireyes, but they still need to hear that you love and care forthem and want to help them become more independent whileremaining healthy and safe. To avoid defensiveness and anymisconceptions that you dont trust them, tell your childrenyoull feel better if you know youve talked with them aboutthe dangers of drug and alcohol use.•Practice Active Listening.AskAs questions to find out what your children already know. Use open-ended questions to elicitmore in-depth responses, and let your children know youre listening by maintaining eye contactand rephrasing some of the things they say. Listening to your child can enlighten you as to someof their misconceptions or experiences so you can tailor your discussion to suit their individualneeds. If youre talking with more than one child at a time, make sure to give each one a turn toask and answer questions.
•Be Consice. A PARENTS GUIDE FOR B e concise and stay on topic to avoid losing your childrens attention and interest. Explain teaching children ABOUT facts about what can happen when someone uses drugs or alcohol. Give detailed, practical examples of things your kids can do to avoid DRUGS & ALCOHOL temptation or respond to peer pressure. If you dont know the answer to a question your child asks, its okay to say so. Write the question down asks and promise to find out the answer and get back to them later.•Keep it Age Appropriate.ItsIt important to be honest with your children, but OURkeep your conversation age-appropriate. Let your NG Ychildren know the seriousness of substance abuse, EAC HIbut dont scare them. Its okay to explain that drugs T ENand alcohol can make a person sick physically and LDRmentally, and you can go into age-appropriate detail CH Iabout these things. But its not necessary to usescare tactics, such as pictures of people on drugsscar U GSor affected by drugs to drive home your points. U T DREncouraging Questions and CommentsAdolescents ABO CH O HOLAdolescent and teens arent always forthcoming with their thoughts, and sometimes they dont ND A Lknow how to ask about something thats on their mind. Encourage your children to ask questions Aonce the discussion is over by providing them with prompts. For example you might say "What didyou think about the techniques we talked about for dealing with peer pressure?" or "Do you haveany questions about what to do when someone tries to give you drugs or alcohol?" Be specificwith your questions, instead of posing general or yes-and-no questions.Plan a Follow-Up DiscussionBefore ending your conversation, set aside a time to follow up with your children with anotherdiscussion. Let your son or daughter know that you are always available to answer questions ortalk with them. Even so, plan a follow-up, explaining to your children that its important to youthat they have an opportunity to ask any new questions that come up.
Teaching Your Children About Drugs and Alcohol: Help Them Develop Good Decision-Making Skills According Accordin to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, the skills you teach and promote within your family are one of your greatest assets for drug and alcohol abuse prevention with your children. A strong sense of “No thanks..” security and love within the family contributes toward your childs ability to make healthy decisions when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Even though you know you love your children, make sure they know it, too. childrenPromote Good Self-EsteemLowLo self-esteem can lead children to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, finds theMayo Clinic. You can help build your childrens self-esteem by giving them the opportunity to take onnew tasks, chores or skills that increase their capabilities and make them feel competent. Further buildself-esteem by complimenting your childrens abilities, skills and talents in specific ways. Instead ofsaying "Good job making healthy choices", its more meaningful to say "Im proud of you for gettinginvolved in the afterschool sports program; it shows that you care about being active and taking careof your body."Encourage Critical Thinking SkillsI f you take care of every problem your children ever have,theyll never have the chance to learn how to problem-solve forthemselves. Young children can be encouraged to use criticalthinking skills by providing them with possible solutions to choosefrom when facing a problem. As they get older, engage your kidsin conversation to help them learn how to analyze a situation,develop possible solutions and determine which ones are the best.Foster Healthy IndependenceAs your children grow older, theyll naturally want to become more andmore independent. Each child will be different, and one of your children may be able to handle more independence than the other. Give your kids anopportunity to explore their independence while keeping an eye on them fromafar. Know your childrens friends and where they are, suggests the NationalCouncil on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.The Impact of Positive and Negative Peer PressureIts not possible to be with your child every moment, which is why its important for them to knowhow to handle and respond to negative peer pressure. Discuss possible responses they can usewhen someone offers drugs or alcohol, and practice by role playing. The University of Georgiaasserts that your influence over your children will diminish as they grow older.
The Important Role of Rules and Boundaries BOUNDARIESTeens and adolescents are famous for testing boundaries. Nevertheless, its important thatyou dont waiver on this very important parental task. Helping your children develop goodself-esteem and decision-making skills is critical, but you must continue to guide them withreasonable boundaries and rules Even the best of children do not possess enough wisdom orlife experience to deal with every situation in the right way. Setting boundaries is an effectiveway to put your wisdom, knowledge and life experience to use so it benefits your children. The amount of information available regarding drugs, alcohol and substance abuse prevention can be overwhelming for a parent who simply wants to sit down and talk to their children. Dont worry about knowing it all; instead, focus on communicating with your children in a way that fosters further discussions and bridges gaps, suggests the National Council on suggest Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. Use this information to get started, and plan future conversations to answer any additional questions.
Commonly Used Substances and Their Potential EffectsThis list does not cover all types of drugs, but provides information on those that are mostcommonly used by teens and adolescents. Some of the potential side effects are listed,which you can use to provide your children with responses to any questions they mightask. Not everyone responds the same to each substance, but they all pose potentiallydangerous risks. Alchohol. Alcohol, such as hard liquor, wine and beer, is a type of depressant. Drinking alcohol leads to decreased inhibition, dizziness, loss of consciousness and slurred speech. Long-term abuse of alcohol can cause malnutrition due to decreased appetite and problems with thinking and memory, while leading to blackouts in which the user cannot recall what happened. Marijuana. Marijuana is a mood-altering drug and, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, its use by teens has increased in the past five years, while the perceived risk of using it has decreased. Marijuana use reduces concentration, increases anxiety and appetite, and can cause paranoia. Long-term use can lead to lung infections and cancer. Synthetic Drugs. Use of designer drugs has increased by more than 200 percent in the past two years. Synthetic marijuana and bath salts in particular are dangerous because of their easy availability through some gas stations, paraphernalia shops and internet sources. These drugs can cause blackouts, paranoia, aggressive behavior, tachycardia and stroke. Inhalants. Glue, paint thinner and other common household products that are huffed or inhaled pose a great danger. They cause feelings of euphoria, impaired judgment, irregular heartbeat, psychological problems and can cause organ damage. Prescription Drugs. Glue, paint thinner and other common household products that are huffed or inhaled pose a great danger. They cause feelings of euphoria, impaired judgment, irregular heartbeat, psychological problems and can cause organ damage. Stimulants. Stimulants, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, kick the central nervous system into high gear, increasing energy, heart rate and breathing, while decreasing appetite and the need for sleep. Long-term use can lead to severe paranoia and grossly compromised physical and mental health. Heroin. Heroin is the least used substance amongst children, finds the University of Michigan, yet it bears mention due to its addictiveness. This dangerous drug causes feelings of euphoria, numbness, malnutrition and puts users at risk for contagious diseases and a propensity toward crime.
Reasons Your Children Might be Tempted to Try Drugs or AlcoholAccordingAccordin to the University of Wisconsin, there are many temptations and reasons leadingchildren to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Curiosity and boredom are two reasons thatemphasize the importance of keeping your child involved in activities that stimulate themphysically and mentally. Children can also be tempted by rebellion or the desire to escapephysical or mental pain. Drug or alcohol use is also a form of attention-getting behavior thata child may be tempted to use to gain the attention of a parent.Risks of Continued Use Signs That Your Child isIf your child experiments with drugs or alcohol Using Drugs or Alcoholand continues using them, he or she faces Being Bein able to recognize the early warningthe risk of progressing from substance abuse signs can enable you to prevent your childto substance dependency, asserts Ohio State from doing more than experimenting withUniversitys Wexner Medical Center. alcohol or drugs. Although the earliest warning signs are subtle and can often be As your child keeps using the substance chalked up to typical teenage behavior, of his or her choice, it will have an effect knowledge of your childs normal behavior on their mental and physical health. an and personality will help you see the warnings. Look for a sudden change inH e or she may begin performing poorly at school eating or sleeping patterns; watch forand can fall into the wrong crowd. Because subtle changes in appearance such asparticipating in one risky behavior can lead to lack of grooming, red eyes or a runnyother similar negative choices, a child who falls nose. Pay attention to mood swings,into substance abuse or addiction may become avoidance, secretive behavior and otherinvolved in illegal or otherwise potentially harmful out-of-character behavioral choices. out-of-characteactivities.
TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT DRUGS & ALCOHOL :ESTABLISH A PLAN FOR PREVENTIONYouve taken the time prepare for a discussion with your children about drug and alcohol use,and youve determined that youre on the right track with helping them learn to make wisechoices for themselves. Now its time to take one more preventative measure by establishinga plan for prevention. Talking with your children is an effective first step, but your discussioncan be reinforced by outside sources, a healthy lifestyle and the creation of a family pact torefrain from substance abuse.Enlist Other Resources M DRUGSOutside resources can help add weight to your words, especially REHAB AT HOME ABOUT DRUGSduring the teen years when children tend to think they know more DR UG S R ECO V ER Y FR O BEHAVIORSthan their parents. If your teen has a positive relationship with RE CO VE RY FR OManother adult, such as a coach, adult family member or someonein your church, ask that person if it would be possiblefor your son or daughter to talk to them.Age-appropriate books and movies can also serve as helpful resources. Beforereferring your child to another person or resource, always take the time to make sure thatresource supports what you say and believe. Additionally, dont underestimate the impact ofpositive peer pressure which, according to the University of Georgia, can counteract that ofnegative peer pressureCreate a Family Pact That Promotes PreventionA personal or family plan to prevent drug or alcohol use communicates to your childrenthat you support their efforts and are in this together. Work together as a family to createa promise or a few concise mission statements thateveryone can agree to and sign off on. Make thepact something that everyone is able to adhere and commit to. Plan to review your prevention plan asyour children grow to amend it as necessary.Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle TogetherBeing an active part of your childrens livesand engaging in healthy activities together ishighly effective in helping them steer clear ofdrugs and alcohol, according to the NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse. Make the pursuit ofa healthy lifestyle a natural part of your homelife by preparing and eating healthy mealstogethe participating in physical activities thetogether,entire family can enjoy, and enjoying times ofrest and relaxation.
TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT DRUGS & ALCOHOL :WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CHILD NEEDS HELPDiscovering that your child is already involved with drugs or alcohol is upsetting and scary. Itsnormal to feel confused and uncertain after being blindsided by a situation you never expectedto happen. As a parent, you still possess the ability to be influential in a positive way by helpingyour child stop abusing alcohol or drugs. Use this information to guide you through the processas you try to figure out what to do to help a son or daughter whos engaged in substance abuse.Don’t WaitItsIt best not to take a wait-and-see attitude whenit comes to your children and experimentation withalcohol or drugs. Gather your facts and allow yourselfto calm down emotionally to avoid taking an angry oraccusatory tone with your son or daughter. Presenthim or her with specific instances that have raisedconcern, such as "You smelled like alcohol when youcamcame home from your friends house last night" or "Ipicked your school bag up off the floor and a bag ofpills fell out of it". Let your child know that you lovehim or her and care too much to allow continued drugor alcohol use to occur.Seek Professional TreatmentImmediately seek professional treatment for your child if its clear he or she has a problem withdrugs or alcohol. Love is not enough to help an adolescent or teen child safely detox from drugsor alcohol, or recover from addiction. A caring, knowledgeable healthcare staff, such as those at BestDrugRehabilitation.com, can provide your child with closely monitored care to detox safely before progressing through the recovery process. Throughout the program, you child will receive medical care your and counseling geared specifically toward his or her needs.
Get Support for Yourself In the midst of finding appropriate treatment an support for your child, its also essential to obtain support for and yourself and your partner. Addiction is a family disease that leaves no one untouched. The emotional stress of coping with substance abuse in the family can strain your relationship with your partner, make it difficult to focus on work and cause you to doubt yourself as a parent. Meeting with a counselor or support group can help you work through the process of coping with your childs substance abuse and assist you in preparing for their aftercare. yo Maintain Aftercare Addiction is a chronic illness. Similar to other chronic illnesses, lifelong maintenance is necessary to keep the disease in check. Toward the end of your childs rehabilitation youll start preparing for aftercare. Depending upon the addiction your child is recovering from as well as other factors, such as family circumstances, or emotional or physical illness, ongoing counseling may be recommended, along with support group attendance and life skills classes. Be as actively involved in your childs aftercare as possible, and learn how to best support his or her sobriety from your counselor or support group.Helping Your Children Enjoy a Bright and Healthy FutureIts understandable that you may feel hopeless after learning that your child is abusing drugsor alcohol. You may blame yourself and bear the weight of a tremendous amount of guilt. Thedreams you had for your childs future seem as if theyre all crashing to the ground, but thereis still hope for your child to have a healthy, happy future.A drug or alcohol rehabilitation center, such as BestDrugRehabilitation.com, can provide you andyour child the hope that comes with breaking free from addiction. During treatment, your son ordaughter will have the opportunity to detoxify safely, gain the support of an addictions counselorand learn life skills that will assist him or her in developing healthy ways to cope with difficultiesand any temptations faced. Seeking help for your child today is one of the most loving ways youcan provide the help that he or she needs to stop using drugs or alcohol.