2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
As a parent, there are many delicate subjects that you must, sooner or later, discuss with your children. We think of course of sexuality and romantic relationships, but we should not forget the consumption of drugs and alcohol either.
When it comes to legal and illegal substances, the best approach is to foster frank and open communication and to be understanding and compassionate. Knowing that the synthetic opioids found in street drugs, such as fentanyl, are invisible to the naked eye, tasteless and odorless and can be fatal on first contact, it is essential to inform your teenagers as soon as possible on this subject. The ideal is to tell them about it before they even come to ask you questions. Indeed, even young children are able to understand what is good or bad for the body; it's never too early to start a conversation!
How to broach the subject with your teenager
First, educate yourself. You must have enough information yourself before you think about talking about drugs with your teenagers. Several resources such as He alth Canada and Kids Help Phone will certainly be very useful to you for this purpose.
Use appropriate language. The language and information you use should be appropriate for the age of your children. For teens, it's best to be direct and honest and give them clear and consistent information.
Find a good time. Tell your teen that you would like to talk to him about something important and ask him when would be the best time for him. Make sure your youngster is comfortable, calm and rested. If he avoids discussion or doesn't answer your questions, try changing the way you talk to him. You can also use humor to dispel unease and arouse his interest.
Be open-minded. Keep an open and non-judgmental attitude. Encourage your teen to ask you questions and talk to you about their experiences at school, on the street, and with their friends. Listening carefully will encourage him to discuss more about what affects him personally and what worries him. Answer his questions honestly and let him know he can discuss anything with you. And don't worry if you don't have all the answers to his questions; research together to continue the discussion.
What to say (or not) on the subject
Avoid unnecessary and complicated details. Instead, make a list of general points to discuss and avoid starting the conversation on a whim. Focus on facts, not emotions. Relax the atmosphere and tell your teen that their well-being is your main concern.
Talk about legal products and their harmful effects. Remind your teens that alcohol and prescription painkillers are controlled substances that can cause great harm, including serious addiction, when misused. Make them understand that even if these products are legal, that does not mean that they are harmless. Explain to them that they can have serious repercussions, such as leading to their deportation, losing their driver's license, harming their brain development and causing addiction.
Discuss prescription pain relievers like opioids. The problematic use ofpainkillers, such as codeine, oxycodone and fentanyl, has been on the rise among adolescents in recent years. However, the risks associated with their consumption are very serious, including drug addiction (dependency) and overdose. Since these are prescribed medications, young people often feel that they are safe. Deceive them by explaining to them that it can not only be very dangerous to consume another person's medication, but that we must also always be careful to use what is prescribed to us properly. Give them concrete examples of people who died from an overdose (e.g. Tom Petty, Prince, Michael Jackson, HeathLedger, Cory Monteith). Encourage them to talk to a doctor or pharmacist if they are worried about their he alth or taking medication.
Normalize harm reduction strategies. Take yourself as an example and explain how you have acted in various situations in order to reduce the negative consequences linked to problematic alcohol and drug consumption: consume in moderation, never consume on an empty stomach, alternate an alcoholic drink and a non-alcoholic drink, never drive while impaired, watch your drinking weekly (see these low-risk drinking guidelines), abstain on certain days and contexts, use slightly less risky substances (drinks with low alcohol content) and never mix drugs and alcohol.
Don't send mixed messages. If you use alcohol or drugs yourself, be honest about your own actions. Explain why adults can drink when it is not recommended for a growing child and why it is not recommended for a teenager to use drugs or alcohol. Discuss the effects of these substances on the body and brain, the problems associated with their use, and harm reduction strategies that can be used.
A few additional resources in closing:
Harmful effects of drugs
Get help with problem drinkingdrugs