”How to Educate Your Children About Alcohol and Drugs” is a collaborative post. Please see the disclosure page for more information. Disclaimer – always verify medical information with your doctor or a professional.
No parent likes the idea of their child abusing substances. You will work hard throughout their early years to shield them from this part of the world. You may even try to make it feel as if the chemicals which people use to alter themselves are on the very fringes of society. Of course, though, as they get older, some kids might start to develop a curiosity for this side of life. Whether they want to try drinking for the first time or are being drawn to experiment with drugs, the way that you talk to your kids can have a big impact on the path that they take. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the best ways to take a healthy approach to this, without pushing your kids down the wrong path.
Honesty & Openness
As the first step in this process, it’s worth thinking about what you tell your children. It’s not worth making it seem like drinking or taking drugs are the worst things on the planet, as this could create a conflict in their mind when they realize you’ve exaggerated. Instead, it’s much better to let them know what these substances can do to them, how they will make them feel, and the consequences which can come with them. For example, getting high on cannabis each day won’t kill you, but it could drastically impede your ability to make progress in life. Being honest about this can help them to take a much healthier approach.
For me personally, my kids are in their younger years(younger than 12), I believe it is important as they near their preteen ages that they need to hear first from parents about drugs and alcohol. You have to decide for your family when the time is right. For me, doing this helps make alcohol and drugs not some mysterious thing that they acquire guidance from other ill informed children. I am very honest with them about my problems with alcohol in the past and also any family members that were drug or alcohol addicts. Another way I teach my kids about the effects of drugs and alcohol is every once in a while I put an episode of Cops on YouTube and make them watch it. There has yet to be an episode of that show where abuse of alcohol or drugs is not the reason for a person breaking the law and going to jail! Seriously, every single episode it’s drugs or alcohol! I use this to remind them that when a person chooses to drink or do drugs they also choose to have their mind compromised to more-often-than-not make some life changing bad decisions.
It’s likely that your kids will try at least some sort of substance as they grow up. Drinking is the most common for this, as it is the most easily accessible, and it can be quite easy to tell when they’ve had a drink or two. When you discover something like this, the way that you handle it can shape the future of your child’s habits. If you explode with anger, they are more likely to work harder to hide things from you. If you are able to keep yourself calm, discussing the situation and trying to understand their point of view, it will be much easier to make sure that they don’t continue down the wrong path.
I am so thankful that my parents always told me growing up that if I wanted to drink that I would have to do this at home. Knowing I had the freedom to drink took the allure of it away. It wasn’t the “cool” thing to me any more because I knew it was accessible and not a rebellious choice to drink, it was available any time. My parents worked reverse psychology like Michelangelo carved stone. They were masters of this.
They also were smart in telling my sisters and I that if we ever did make the mistake of drinking at a high school party that they would pick us up or our friends no questions asked. This probably saved a couple friends’ lives as my dad got a call a different couple times in the middle of the night and gave people rides. He never ratted these kids out to their parents as far as I know. The only way my sisters and I would find out was usually the next school day these friends would complain about my dad lecturing them about how they were conducting themselves and how they should have more respect for themselves. Still cracks me up thinking about how the cost of the dad cab was a dad lecture about life lessons. LOL
In some cases, all of the work you’ve done towards keeping your child on the straight and narrow can be undone, with certain substances being easy to get hooked on, but very hard to stop. Sadly, even with having such great parents and an understanding of the possible road to addiction when it comes to alcohol, I did eventually turn to it. In college I brought my big gulp to most classes with the magic ratio(half whiskey half coke). But I convinced myself, this is college I’m suppose to live it up. On the weekends I lived off HotDamn, a cinnamon schnapps.
Then after college I calmed down for a little while and was just a social drinker until my husband started traveling for work 5 days a week. I was alone with my undiagnosed mental health issues for just too long at a time. Sooo while I went to church on Sunday mornings, I spent most of my nights with my favorite bottle at home. Not every single night but enough that looking back I realize now that I had a serious problem. My final “ah-ha” moment was visiting a friend’s house just to drink and watch movies, looking down at the coffee table still not completely wasted, and realizing that almost the entire table filled with empty bottles were all ones I had drank not hers. I drank enough I probably should have had alcohol poisoning but could still walk around just fine. After that night, I haven’t had a drop.
I wish someone would have helped me see my problem sooner but I hid it so well. I wish I would have had help for my alcoholism and for my mental health issues. I feel like it’s only by the grace of God that I’m still alive.
If your children have gone down the path of addiction, please don’t give up on them. Please read as much as you can about how to not be an enabler but still help them. People have a better chance at sobriety if their whole supportive family is part of their recovery. There are many roads that you can choose if your child is abusing a substance and finding a professional for advice is a must. An intervention specialist can be a professional to help you with this. Rather than telling the kid off, they will have the chance to talk about their struggle, helping you and other family members to build a positive support network around them. Of course, this isn’t always easy, but it will be worth it to avoid further trauma.
Drinking and taking drugs are part of the world we live in. You can’t control who your children come in contact with, especially as they reach their teenage years. It is so important to keep tabs on who they are spending time with but also you will have to put some trust in them. Being open and honest about the effects of alcohol and drugs is such an important way to prepare them for making better decisions in life.