- Of all the experiments that teenagers can make, the areas most parents fear is that of drug abuse. A drug addiction inflicts lasting or fatal damage.
- So what can you do to keep your children off drugs?
- Open communication
Discussing and explaining the facts about drugs to teenagers honestly and without hysteria, and in not giving them the reason for seeking escape into drugs is key to keeping them off drugs. You need to start talking to her when she is still a pre-teen. Drug dealers often target young children because they are easily manipulated. Don’t take for granted that your child is too young to be offered drugs! The ongoing dialogue between you and your teenager makes her know you understand the temptations she is facing and you are ready to do what you can to help her.
If you answer her questions ahead of time, she is less likely to experiment out of curiosity. If, however, she is tempted, it helps to know what to look for so that you can give early help. It doesn’t help to ignore your suspicions and leave intervention until the child has a well-established drugs habit.
The best place to discuss the subject is the dinner table, the one occasion each day that brings the whole family together. Use examples such as drug-related incidents that happen at school, celebrities who enter rehabilitation, or news accounts of accidents involving drugs. Tell your child about the dangers of drugs and also play out a few possible scenarios that might occur between her and a drug pusher. Teach her how to say, “No!”
- Watch for signs of drug abuse
Some of the obvious signs are objects associated with drug use in your teenager’s possession. Another worrying sign is spatters of blood in the bathroom, in your teenagers’ room or on their clothes, especially in the arms or legs. Mainlining leaves ‘tracks’ or puncture marks around the injected vein, and the young person who flatly refuses to roll up their sleeves or wear brief clothing in hot weather could be sending out strong messages to you.
Be concerned if your teenager suddenly becomes exceptionally moody, has mood swings, or shows unexpected bad temper or aggression. A change in appetite and altering of sleeping patterns, staying up for hours and never seeming to go to bed should cause concern. New friends could appear mysteriously, and your teenager might suddenly start taking phone calls or visits at odd times of the day or night, and insist on going out immediately.
They may become furtive, secretive and tell obvious lies, and money or belongings, their own and yours, could melt away.
If you see any of these signs, the first golden rule is not to panic. You need to focus your feelings and attitudes first, to get the situation into perspective. Find help if you suspect your child is using drugs.
- Take care of your child’s emotions
Substances may be abused because of peer-group pressure, pressure with school, sports, and relationships or emotional pressures when life gets on top of us, and a quick drug fix will make us feel better. Just talking about the dangers of these substances can’t in itself prepare us to resist the pressures from outside and inside. The only way to do that is to discuss the pressures as well, to acknowledge how they affect us and to work out ways of avoiding and resisting them. Teach her good techniques to handle stress.
- Keep them busy
Youth with a goal they’re working toward in life or are busy with sports and other extracurricular activities are much less likely to get involved with drugs. It’s also important to know whom your teenager is spending time with and inviting them to your house is a good way of getting to know them. If you feel concerned, talk to your child about it. Ensure she adheres to rules about curfew and keeping you informed about where they’re going.
- Show good behaviour
The drugs of abuse that your teenager might come into contact with are heroin, cocaine, bhang, amphetamines, barbiturates, tranquillisers and solvents. However, many more lives are ruined or cut short by the effects of beer, spirits, wine or cigarettes than by heroin or cocaine.
Thus before you consider illegal drugs, reflect on the substances you buy and use yourself. Many of our social occasions are built around the offering of alcohol or a cigarette. Teenagers are usually steeped into this common attitude towards alcohol and tobacco.