Educating Your Child on Substance Abuse

Seeing your child addicted to drugs and alcohol is every parent’s worst nightmare. In fact, no parent would want that to happen to their child. That is why educating your child early on about substance abuse is very important. Keep in mind that addiction is a disease and so you must do everything you can to protect your child from it. 

As parents, it is your responsibility to influence your child in a positive way and raise them properly. Setting a good example for your child to follow, creating good communication, and talking about the risks of taking drugs and alcohol is also very important. Let’s talk about how you can accomplish this and raise a child who will fight against substance abuse

Early Education is Important

The fact is, addiction among teenagers starts at a very young age. It has been reported that many teenagers with drug and alcohol addiction start experimenting with alcohol and drugs at the age of 9 or 10 years old. That is why it is always important to instill them with knowledge regarding this issue as early as you can. Although it is good to talk to them about these things at an age-appropriate level, it is always helpful if you are able to discuss these things with your children even at a very young age. This is also to help educate them about the importance of their choices and how it can affect them physically and mentally. At the same time, they can learn how these types of decisions can affect their families, friends, and relationships.

Preschool age to 7 years old

Of course, parents will worry when it comes to talking about sensitive topics like this especially at younger ages, but educating them is for your child’s future. For example, whenever you give medicine for a cough or fever, talk about why they need to take it and what can these medicines do to help them feel well. Since your child is at a vulnerable age, make sure to keep things simple. Most of the time kids at this age will often pay attention to what you are saying so it is a lot easier to provide them with the guidance they need. 

This is also the age where children are more impressionable. Any movie character or commercial they see on television can highly influence their minds. So if by chance you see an ad about cigarette smoking, make sure to tell them about the harm it can do to their body. This could also be a good chance to talk about other drugs and how it can harm them. Make sure to keep the discussion fun and light and always use terms that your preschooler/young child can understand. Visual aids may also help in educating your child since they will more than likely remember pictures a lot better than a discussion. 

From Ages 8 to 12 years old

Around this age, your child is pretty much aware of the good and the bad. You have to be careful though because as your child grows up, they become more curious about less than desirable behaviors, making them more susceptible to substance abuse. So the best way to approach this is to ask them what they think about such things. As you are asking these questions, make sure that you are non-judgemental and be open about this topic. This way you can get a more honest response from your child. 

You must keep in mind that it is during this age when kids are more open about what they think about things, so grab the opportunity to talk to them about drugs and alcohol. Make sure to pay attention to their answers and questions too. You might just learn a thing or two from them. As your child grows, they will most likely be less inclined to talk about these things but even if your question is not answered right away, it will give your child some time to think about it. Be alert on news about their “heroes”, see if there are any issues surrounding them about substance use. Talk to your child and ask him or her about how she feels about their hero abusing substances. It could also give you the opportunity to talk about the risks of such behaviors.

From ages 13 to 17 years old

Around this age, your child may have been exposed to some drugs and alcohol or may have known someone within their circle who abuses these substances. They might even have friends who can legally drive, so it is not hard to believe some of them will be curious about these kinds of behaviors. Before that happens, make sure that you have discussed the topic of substance abuse with your child. Teenagers are infamous for shutting themselves away from their parents emotionally so it may be hard to have those kinds of discussions with them if they already haven’t happened. However, some teens are still willing to express their thoughts about it.  

During this conversation, you must understand how your child feels about drug and alcohol use. At the same time, you need to educate them on the consequences of driving under the influence as well as the time they might have to spend in jail if they are caught doing so. Talk about the fines they would have to pay and the other consequences of these kinds of actions (injuries, crashes, death, etc.).

If you can make an agreement with your child, that could also be great. For example, it could be an agreement stating that in case they do get drunk, ask them to call you to pick them up instead of driving around drunk. Discussing these things, coming up with an agreement that both of you agreed on while eliminating surprises or suspicions can make a good impact on your child. If you try and hide them from those sorts of behaviors, curiosity will more than likely get the best of them and they’ll hide it from you. This way, your expectations are clear with him or her. Keep in mind that your child is also at the age where they want to make decisions on their own so make sure that you are there for them. 

Final Thoughts

Like it or not, your child will be an adult and will be making choices for themselves in due time. It is important that you have laid the foundation in your child’s life well so they can make better choices in the end. Informing them about drugs and alcohol is something that should start at an early age. It’s best that your child has a clear picture of the good and bad while they are still young so they can also become better adults in the future. 

The world we live in is unpredictable and with all the stress and pressure that life can bring, it is not surprising to see young adults turn to substance abuse as a way to cope. But if you keep an open dialogue with your child, they may just turn away from substance abuse lifestyles. Addiction can be avoided, it’s up to the parents to keep their children well-informed. Educate them about substance abuse as early as possible and they will surely thank you for it in the future.