At this very moment, your teenager is being inundated with drug-positive messages. To make matters worse, you have very little control in the matter. These messages are quite literally in the air. Messages from television, radio, and word of mouth are transmitted via air waves. The only way to stop them is to plug the ears of your child so that the air waves never have a chance to interact with the receptors in the ear.
Of course, once you’ve done that, you will have to do something about the transmissions that hitch a ride on photons. Magazines, books, webpages, and videos also contain drug-positive messages. As a parent, your biggest concern is not grades, or even teen pregnancy. It is preventing your child from becoming a drug addict. While there is no sure-fire solution, there are some proactive things you can do.
Conquer Your Own Addictions
A drug or alcohol addicted parent has no moral authority to talk to their kids about addiction. Sandy’s Place, a facility that offers substance abuse rehab for women, notes that drug abuse for women is on the rise, as is their quest for treatment. Women are learning the hard way that it is extremely difficult to raise a drug-free child when they themselves are addicted.
Consider the possible messages you would be sending:
- If you are a high-functioning drug addict who is doing reasonably well in life, you are telling your child that they can be a drug addict and still have a good life.
- If you are struggling, but get a lot of sympathy and attention from family and friends, you are reinforcing an unintended, positive message that drug addiction leads to social acceptance, attention, and encouragement.
- If you are telling your kids to do what is clear that you cannot, it is a message of hypocrisy. There is no longer any reason they should respect your opinions about anything.
To avoid all of these mixed messages, you must first remove the plank from your own eye. If your kids do have the misfortune of seeing you in a state of addiction, the one message you must be sure to give them is that recovery is both necessary and possible.
Raise Them with Healthy Habits
A person who eats junk food all day and considers fast food a good alternative to cooking, drinks heavily, and smokes will think little about the health risks of drugs. Raising your kids with healthy habits when they are young can have a profound effect on them throughout their lives. If they have good health at an age when they are conscious of just how valuable it is, they will be less likely to casually give it up.
Beyond that, healthy habits are essential to how children learn to manage stress. A person with a poor relationship to food might lean toward food and other substances as a stress management mechanism. While it provides no guarantee, giving your kids a health and nutrition focus makes drugs a less likely of an option.
Help Them Discover Better Role Models
Though no studies have been done to bear this out, it is among all things possible that peer pressure is the leading cause of death for teens. Movies like The Hangover make casual drug use seem normal, fun, humorous, and ultimately harmless. It is just a natural part of the life of young, good looking, successful, upwardly mobile people. Those are the kinds of people your kids want to be like.
If you are not happy with their circle of friends, try inviting them into yours. Introduce them to real life successes with strong families and solid careers. There are some kids who don’t personally know anyone like that. Meeting the right role model at a formative age could make all the difference in the world.
Recent high school and youth trends from the NIH give us reason for optimism. Most signs show teen drug use trending downward. Today, there is a smaller chance your teen will become a drug addict than there was five years ago. Keep that trend moving in the right direction by getting treatment for your own addictions, teaching them healthy habits, and giving them drug-free role models.