How to Talk to Your Teen About Drugs
It can be hard to bring up difficult conversations with your addict child. You don’t want things to be awkward, you don’t want to alienate your teenager, but you know you need to have an important conversation about their drug use. How do you handle it?
It is normal to have these concerns. Here are some tips on how to start a conversation when you’re worried about your child’s reaction:
- Broach the subject lightly – start from a place of love
- Pick the right moment – not when you or your teen is stressed out
- Speak with compassion and not judgmentally
- Remember that the best questions are open-ended
You can say things like, “It seems like you’ve been going through a difficult time lately. I love you and want to keep you safe. How do you feel about teens using drugs and alcohol?”. These types of statements and questions are open-ended and let your child know you care.
Don’t be afraid of your teen’s reaction; their life is worth more than some awkwardness.
Strengthening your relationship with your teenager can be the first step towards improving things at home. Opening the lines of communication with kindness and understanding will go a long way in working out problems together.
To Be a Friend or Not To Be
When adolescents are having a drug problem, parents can feel unsure about their roles. They find themselves wondering if they should be their child’s friend or their parent.
Believe it or not, parents are the most influential part of a teen’s life – even more so than their friends. Sometimes, as a parent you may feel like an outsider when your high schooler spends more time with their friends than their family; however, your student needs you just as much as always.
Part of teen addiction is to fabricate stories about where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. In order to be able to obtain illegal substances, those struggling with addiction have to be deceitful to continue in their addiction. It’s not that they want to lie, but they inherently feel it’s the only choice.
Unfortunately, lying breaks down relationships. The longer deceit goes on, the more distant people become.
Advice for Parents of Addicts
Parents can feel caught in between being a friend to their teen and leading by the traditional parental role. While being non-judgmental is huge, so is continuing to be the authority figure your child has come to rely on.
Focusing more on being in the role of a friend than a parent can have potentially negative consequences. Good parenting involves setting limits and being aware of when the rules at home aren’t effective.
Here are some examples of actions that parents have had to take to create a change:
- Calling the police when you find drugs on your child
- Withholding money (to avoid financing drug purchases)
- Not bailing them out of school problems or even jail
- Drug testing at home
- Enforcing a non-privacy rule at home
These may not be easy practices to implement, but parents who save their children have taken these type of actions.
Most importantly, getting your loved one into a detox center keeps him or her safe from drugs and their devastating effects. Healing and recovery from the disease of addiction begins with intervention and detox.