8 Tips for Talking to Kids About Drug and Substance Abuse

Drug and substance abuse among Zimbabwe’s youth and teenagers is on the rise. Drug and substance abuse is more common in cities. Despite the fact that substance abuse is on the rise, little has been done to reduce drug and substance abuse among youths through interventions and early prevention. Alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, glue, and other cough mixtures such as histalix are among the drugs abused in Zimbabwe.

This article will discuss how to talk to children about drug abuse and its consequences. The use of these drugs is also linked to a lack of parental supervision. However, attempting to facilitate positive parent-child relationships may be a worthwhile intervention target that could result in a decrease in adolescent drug misuse. When children are young, open discussion about issues such as substance abuse should begin. As children grow older, it is critical to discuss what they have learned about drugs with them. Ask in a nonjudgmental, open-ended manner to increase the likelihood of an honest response. Talking to children about sensitive topics like drugs helps keep the door open as they grow older so they can continue to share their thoughts and feelings.

When discussing drugs and alcohol with children, make sure you relate to them in a way that they understand. Drugs are hazardous both physically and mentally. You want them to live their best lives because you adore them. Drug use is illegal and can land them in legal trouble for the rest of their lives. Any family can be affected by drugs. Parents, on the other hand, can help their children stay safe by talking to them and staying involved in their lives. When parents discover that their child is abusing drugs, they frequently blame themselves for failing to help their child avoid drugs. This has affected many parents whose children use drugs; typically, these parents suffer from depression as a result of their children’s drug use. There is a great deal of stigma attached to parents whose children use drugs.  

A family history of substance abuse is one of the factors that may lead children to use drugs. Depression, anxiety, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder are all examples of mental or behavioral health conditions (ADHD). A history of traumatic events, such as being in a car accident or being a victim of abuse. Low self-esteem or a sense of social rejection are common risk factors for teen drug abuse. Just as you must be clear about your stance on substance abuse, children must understand the consequences of breaking the rules. What will be their punishment if they smoke, drink, or use drugs? Mention the legal ramifications as well. Combine warnings about topics that are important to them. Cigarette smoking, for example, can have an impact on their appearance, hygiene, and attractiveness, resulting in bad skin, bad breath, and a constant cigarette odor.

Talk to him or her. There are times when parents must discuss drug and alcohol use with their children. Choose a time when you will not be interrupted, and know when not to have a conversation, such as when you are angry with your child. Discuss methods for reducing peer pressure. Talk with your teen about how to decline drug offers. Certain topics should be discussed on an ongoing basis when it comes to your family’s health and safety. Make conversation with your children a regular part of your day. Make time for things you enjoy doing as a family to help everyone stay connected and communicate openly. Talking to children about drugs and alcohol is not a one-time event. You must continue to discuss it. Repeat the conversation several times.

Encourage honesty. Speak calmly and clearly, expressing your concern. Provide specifics to back up your suspicion. Check out any claims he or she makes. Avoid lectures by asking your child for his or her opinion. Instead, pay attention to your child’s thoughts and questions about drugs. Assure your teen that he or she will be truthful with you. Discuss the reasons why you should not use drugs. Emphasize how drug use can have an impact on things important to your child, such as sports, driving, and physical appearance.

Pay attention to your teen’s whereabouts. Know your children’s friends and where they spend their time; if their friends experiment with drugs, your child may feel pressured to do so as well. Children are more likely than not to have peers who abuse alcohol or drugs. Check in on a regular basis, spend more time with your children, know where your child is, and ask questions when he or she returns home. Conversations are beneficial not only for understanding your child’s thoughts and feelings, but also for discussing the dangers of drugs and alcohol. By emphasizing that drug use is dangerous but does not imply that your child is a bad person, you can focus on the behavior rather than the person.

Establish rules and consequences: Teenagers who experiment with drugs jeopardize their health and safety. Talk to your children about the dangers of drugs and the importance of making healthy choices to help prevent child drug abuse. Explain your family rules, such as not attending a party where drugs are used and not riding in a car with a driver who has used drugs. If your child violates the rules, impose consistent consequences. Make sure the child understands addiction; some things are extremely difficult to stop using once they begin the habit. Some people are unable to stop at all, resulting in tragedy.

Other health risks associated with commonly used drugs include the risk of heart attack, stroke, and seizures, liver and heart failure, and heart and lung damage. Drug use is also linked to poor decision-making in social and personal interactions. Drug use is also linked to high-risk sexual behavior, unsafe sex, and unintended pregnancy. Driving while high on any drug can impair a driver’s motor skills, putting the driver, passengers, and others on the road in danger of injury or death. Academic performance can suffer as a result of substance abuse.

Provide support. When your teen succeeds, give him or her praise and encouragement. A warm, open family environment in which people talk about their feelings, their accomplishments are praised, and their self-esteem is boosted encourages children to express their questions and concerns. A strong bond between you and your teen may help keep your teen away from drugs. Encourage your children to participate in hobbies, sports, and clubs that they are interested in.

Recognizing the warning signs of teen drug abuse. Be on the lookout for red flags such as sudden or drastic changes in friends, eating habits, sleeping patterns, or physical appearance. Irresponsible behavior, poor judgment, and a general lack of enthusiasm In addition, the presence of medicine containers or drug paraphernalia in your teen’s room, despite the absence of illness, is a red flag.

Seeking help for teen drug abuse. If you suspect or know that your teen is experimenting with or abusing drugs, seek professional assistance by contacting a doctor, therapist, or other health care provider. It is never too early to begin discussing drug abuse with your adolescent. We cannot waste our youth on problems for which we have solutions. If they die as a result of drug abuse, their pain lives on.

This article was written by Beauty Tavashure a Master’s in Counselling Psychology student at Great Zimbabwe University, Zimbabwe. She writes here in her personal capacity. 

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