How to Prevent YOUR Child from Becoming an Addict
As I sit back and watch this drug epidemic unfold, I’ve thought about if this whole problem could have been completely prevented in the first place. I’ve said for many years, addiction is one of those things that can be completely prevented if the right steps are taken to steer people away from drugs. Our society likes drugs. It seems to be our “thing.” Some of us would rather escape into a drug and alcohol-fueled oblivion rather than confront our problems.
But it doesn’t matter how many pills you take; your mortgage is still due. You’re still going to have to pay your child support and once the drugs wear off, you’re still going to have low self-esteem. Drugs don’t fix anything. The very solution to our problems becomes the problem itself and nothing ever gets solved by getting high. The higher we get, the further we get from a solution, but the reprieve drugs may give us seems to feel much better than facing our problems.
Drug addiction is preventable. It’s not some inevitable thing we fall into. I think it’s just something that happens as a coping mechanism and a way to deal with life. No one necessarily tries drugs for the first time to solve their problems. When they get high, the drugs just so happen to give the illusion they can fix anything. If a person gets high during a time of high stress, feeling bad about themselves, or during a time of general discomfort, the drugs will temporarily help them to feel better, but only on a chemical level. Their problems weren’t solved. Their grief didn’t permanently disappear and they didn’t suddenly become full of real self-confidence after snorting that line. The drugs gave them the illusion that they did. But their problems are still there. It’s all just smoke and mirrors.
The first lesson parents need to teach their kids is to face and confront their problems. This should start at an early age and on into adulthood. And the way to do this is through open, honest communication with your child. Let’s face it, no kid is going to come home one day in tears because they popped a few painkillers and need to tell mom and dad all about it. That won’t happen. But what parents can do is emphasize the importance of facing your fears, handling your issues, and never running away from your problems.
This brings me to my second point and that point is to teach your children by setting a good example. You’d be surprised how much your kids pick up on. Don’t think for a second they don’t hear you come home, complain about your long day at work and watch you crack a few beers or have a few glasses of wine. In their minds, a hard day at work is solved by alcohol. I hate to stir the pot (no pun intended), but for parents who use marijuana, your children see that and could consider that some drugs are perfectly okay and mom and dad smoke pot and are successful, so what’s the problem?
Later in life, if they progress from pot to alcohol to cocaine, meth, or opiates, you won’t have a leg to stand on when you confront them. In the 80’s there was a PSA showing a father confronting his son about the drugs found in his room. The father yelled at him “who taught you how to do this?!” and the son said he learned by watching his father. If you, as a parent, do drugs, you might wind up with kids who do drugs. Because they are always watching what you do. So, lead by example and don’t be a hypocrite.
Something I’ve always said is education is the first step to prevention and I still believe that’s true. Educate your kids on drugs and don’t be afraid to talk to them about it. Give them the information and talk about it with them in a way they can understand. Let them know the dangers of drugs and let them know about the realities of addiction. This doesn’t have to be a formal “sit-down,” because that can be awkward for kids. This is something that should be brought up during a normal conversation and can just be “slipped in.” Have an open line of communication with your children so if they ever do run into problems later in life, they might be more inclined to talk to you about it. Give them everything they need to make the best decisions possible for themselves.
Setting a good example, talking to your kids about drugs, and teaching your kids to face their problems are things any set of parents or single parents can do. I’m not saying it’s easy and simple, but the payoff can be the difference between life and death. These are also things which need to be done constantly. It’s not just a one-time conversation and then you’re done. It takes time to groom your kids to make positive choices. The answer to this drug epidemic is not creating new addicts. And that starts with today’s children. It starts with YOUR children.
Just talk to them.