Don't put off talking to your children about alcohol and other
drugs. As early as fourth grade, kids worry about pressures to try
drugs. School programs alone aren't enough. Parents must become
involved, but most parents aren't sure how to tell their children
Open communication is one of the most effective tools you can use
in helping your child avoid drug use. Talking freely and really
listening shows children that they mean a great deal to you.
What do you say?
- Tell them that you love them and you want them to be healthy
- Say you do not find alcohol and other illegal drugs acceptable.
Many parents never state this simple principle.
- Explain how this use hurts people. Physical harm - for example,
AIDS, slowed growth, impaired coordination, accidents. Emotional
harm - sense of not belonging, isolation, paranoia. Educational
harm - difficulties remembering and paying attention.
- Discuss the legal issues. A conviction for a drug offense can
lead to time in prison or cost someone a job, driver's license,
or college loan.
- Talk about positive, drug-free alternatives, and how you can
explore them together. Some ideas include sports, reading, movies,
bike rides, hikes, camping, cooking, games, and concerts. Involve
your kids' friends.
How do you say it?
- Calmly and openly - don't exaggerate. The facts speak for themselves.
- Face to face - exchange information and try to understand each
other's point of view. Be an active listener and let your child
talk about fears and concerns. Don't interrupt and don't preach.
- Through "teachable moments" - in contrast to a formal
lecture, use a variety of situations - television news, TV dramas,
- Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time
- Remember that you set the example. Avoid contradictions between
your words and your actions. And don't use illegal drugs, period!
- Be creative! You and your child might act out various situations
in which one person tries to pressure another to take a drug.
Figure out two or three ways to handle each situation and talk
about which works best.
- Exchange ideas with other parents.
How can I tell if a child is using drugs?
illegal drug use may help prevent further abuse. Possible signs
- Change in moods - more irritable, secretive, withdrawn, overly
sensitive, inappropriately angry, euphoric.
- Less responsible - late coming home, late for school or class,
- Changing friends or changing lifestyles - new interests, unexplained
- Physical deterioration - difficulty in concentration, loss of
coordination, loss of weight, unhealthy appearance.
Why do kids use drugs?
Young people say they turn to alcohol and other drugs for one or
more of the following reasons:
- To do what their friends are doing.
- To escape pain in their lives.
- To fit in.
- For fun.
- To take risks.
Take A Stand!
- Educate yourself about the facts surrounding alcohol and other
drug use. You will lose credibility with your child if your information
is not correct.
- Establish clear family rules against drug use and enforce them
- Develop your parenting skills through seminars, networking with
other parents, reading, counseling, and support groups.
- Work with other parents to set community standards - you don't
raise a child alone. Volunteer at schools, youth centers, Boys
& Girls Clubs, or other activities in your community.
For More Information
- State and local government drug use prevention, intervention,
and treatment agencies.
- State and local law enforcement agencies.
- Private drug use treatment service listed in the telephone book
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council
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