A supportive family relationship can make all the difference in preventing drug problems from developing.
The issue of drugs has always been associated with fear and embarrassment and so the problem can become hidden and a taboo subject for conversation. It doesn’t have to be that way. Parents are often able to discuss alcohol and cigarettes with their children, so why not other drugs?
On most life matters, young people learn from their parents, but these days they often know more about drugs than their parents. So there is often a difficulty in getting these kinds of conversations started, and sometimes they can descend into recriminations and suspicions. Only open and frank discussions on drugs can be useful. So Angelus has constructed a helpful guide (link) to having those conversations and how to conduct them. They are not to be followed rigidly; every family is different and you will know what elements will work better for you.
Once you start, then what seemed a daunting issue for conversation can be much easier to handle than expected. And if the goal is better protection for your children then it must be worthwhile. It is very important you let them speak, so ask leading questions (What do you think about ‘X’? Have you heard anything about this new drug?).
They should do at least half the talking – so let them speak, a lecture is not going to work. These conversations should not be confrontational. For younger ages, they should help prevent them from taking the drugs at all. In all cases, parents should be giving young people the confidence to turn down drugs if they are offered to them.
• Many media stories about drugs are exaggerated so try and find more balanced sources of information such as talktofrank.com
• Most young people don’t take drugs
• Stay clam, have a rational discussion
• Don’t make it a long conversation. Move onto another subject as if it were just another topic. It will make it easier to bring it up again.
The main point to get across in your conversation is to stay safe. Obviously the best strategy for young people to stay safe is not to take any drugs, whether legal or illegal as there are always risks attached.
However, young people should be aware of the risks, should know there is a huge amount of uncertainty about the active ingredients in these new party drugs and what the potential harms are. Friends at parties and clubs should always look out for each other and be prepared to call for medical help if necessary.