Here is a script for a wise conversation parents can have with their children written by the Angelus Advisory Board together with the Foundation founder, Maryon Stewart. At the end of the conversation you can ask them to look at our other site for young people www.whynotfindout.org
Angelus recommends you find a time when your children are relaxed and not rushing off, perhaps during, or following, a family meal. It’s okay to let your children know that you are very concerned by your new knowledge about unclassified substances. It’s vital to foster an open channel of communication so that your teenagers feel comfortable about communicating with you. But always remember to let the talk, even to interrupt you.
You could start by saying, “I was reading something in the paper recently which concerned me. I wanted to discuss it with you to see whether you know much about it. I’ve discovered there are dozens of dangerous substances being sold to young people as ’legal highs‘ and that some people have even died as a result of taking them or been damaged for life after a night out. Have you heard much about them?
“Apparently many of these new substances contain a cocktail of Class B drugs and other chemicals like paint strippers, that were never meant for human consumption. I’ve discovered that the short term side effects of many of these substances include psychosis, paranoia, depression, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, palpitations, difficulty breathing and severe nose bleeds. And it seems that no one knows what the long-term effects on our body are, but it is known that many of these often lethal substances are also addictive. How much you know about the harms of ’legal highs‘?”
If your son or daughter is forthcoming at this point, let them talk. You may get a small indication or even a confession so prepare yourself for a frank answer.
You could go onto say. “I’m not naive enough to think that young people are going to stop experimenting, but I am concerned that people don’t know what’s in these substances and they can have very serious effects, and in some cases even result in death. I know that it’s easy to feel pressured to take something when it’s offered to you by a friend, but the truth they won’t know what’s in it either. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Have you discussed these at school in drug lessons or with friends?”
Let your teenager respond and tell you what they know. If they look sheepish, then it is possible they may have already been experimenting. Don’t act shocked or angry. Keep composed and let them talk frankly to you.
When they have finished continue your conversation along the following lines:” Another thing I discovered is that the contents of each brand often varies from batch to batch and so no one really knows what they are taking at any time or the effect that it might have on their body. It must be difficult if someone offers you something to try, and even more difficult for you to say no. But for your own sake and your friends – don’t you agree you have to think twice before trying anything like this?
Again, give your teenager chance to respond and ask what they think or what they have heard. If they ask you something you don’t know the answer to just say “that’s a really good question, I hadn’t thought of that”, or tell them you don’t know the answer and you will look into it and get back to them.
Then continue your conversation: “It’s not the time in your life to experiment with drugs, especially those that are unclassified that could have a serious effect on you. While your body is developing your brain is going through changes too and so these substances can be very dangerous. Drinking alcohol to excess can also affect your body and could lead to you making poor decisions. Girls/boys don’t like girls/boys who are drunk and throwing up. Being off your trolley isn’t actually that cool.
If you are worried about anything that you are offered please come and talk to me about it. I really care about you and just want you to be safe. I couldn’t bear to lose you or for you to be mentally ill for the rest of your life for what seemed like some harmless fun.”
Let your teenager respond again so that you have an open and frank discussion. Keep it relatively short. Then end the conversation by saying something along the following lines: “I’m going to try to find out more all this so can we catch up again later to talk about it some more”.