kid parent talking

Talking to children about addiction is always difficult, especially when they are very young. However, it is necessary to combat the media’s portrayal of drugs and alcohol with truth, even to small children. Having conversations with your children about drug and alcohol abuse are important to teach them the necessary skills to overcome the pressures from peers and the media to use and abuse substances. 

It Doesn’t Need to be “The Talk”

Although it may be a good idea to sit down with your children and talk directly to them about substance abuse, it is more important to take the teaching moments in everyday life. When drugs are glorified in tv, movies, etc, it is important to take those moments to give them accurate information about substances; how they will give you a high, but they also will give you incredible lows. 

Start Young

If you begin talking to children about addictive substances when they are teenagers, it may be too late. Their minds have already become full of propaganda from media and friends. It is important to let your children know at an early age that there are dangers in the world so that they can learn to defend themselves properly. A lot of teens and young adults begin their path of substance abuse in innocence, unaware of the consequences of their actions. 

Don’t Sugar-Coat Addiction

Sugar-coating substance abuse is common in the world today. Be honest about the effects of drug use, using language they can understand depending on their age. If you were once an addict, it may be very difficult to explain the effects the drugs had on your life to a child. However, children are 50% less likely to use addictive substances if they have talked to their parents about them, and parents have set an expectation of an addiction-free home. 

Explain Family History

If you have a history of addiction, or if you have a close relative who is an addict, help your child understand the risks they face to become addicted themselves. Treat it like you would a history of a chronic illness or disease, such as cancer or heart disease.

Have an Open-Door Policy

Allow your children to ask you about questions or concerns without fear of being ridiculed or getting in trouble. If they hear or see something at school that they do not understand, allow them to talk to you about it. Make sure that they know that they will not get in trouble for coming to you with difficult questions.