There can be many fingers pointed, and blame placed when a parent discovers their teen has been doing drugs. Some would say it is the fault of a bad group of friends, or drug dealers that target kids, or not enough information given out at school or by the government. But study after study has shown that parents are actually (or should be) the biggest influence on their children. Therefore, it would make sense that part of the responsibility for a child staying drug-free lies with the parent.
A difficult topic
Some kids grow up in households where the parents don’t have a close relationship with their kids, and in these cases, it is difficult to even bring up the subject of drugs. Other parents, with good intentions, simplify their talks and make them ineffective. Just telling your teen to “Just say no” may not give them enough guidance or information, and it certainly doesn’t open up the lines of communication for when the teen is pressured to try drugs.
Open and honest
Another problem many parents are facing today is the guilt of their own past drug use. Parents don’t want to be hypocritical with their teens, and they don’t want to lie. A new campaign from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America this year is advising parents to be upfront with their teens about past drug use, but to do it in a cautious way. Kids appreciate their parents confiding in them and being honest. It’s ok to say you tried drugs, but then also say how or why you came clean. Let your teen know that drugs are harmful to their health and family, and you stopped using them because you had hopes and dreams you wanted to fulfill. Kids are influenced by pop culture and friends and too many places that glamorize drug abuse. Parents can be honest about the effects of drugs, especially if they experienced them firsthand.
Not everyone would agree with this open and honest technique. There are some that say if kids knew their parents did drugs, it might make it seem ok, because their parents turned out alright.
Either way, experts agree that parents need to have more conversations with their teens about drugs and alcohol. Be aware of the risks, and the fact that teens today can go into almost any medicine cabinet in town (possibly even your own) and get prescription drugs. Be aware that there is still peer-pressure to do drugs, and that unfortunately, certain drugs, like marijuana, are still pretty much accepted in society. All these things make it difficult for a teen to resist trying drugs when exposed to them. Teens need to stand strong when pressured to try drugs. This strength comes from education about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse, and from parents they can go to for questions or advice.