Talk with your child about peer pressure. All children will be pressured at some point, and they should know what to do. Tell your child that if they are in a situation where they feel pressured, the best thing to do is the right thing to do. Tell them not to do anything they don't feel comfortable doing, and that they should always do the right thing. Don't tell your kids to report their friends' drug use. In most cases, they will get the reputation as a "rat", or a "snitch", and it's not worth it. Most teenagers won't allow a tattletale into their circle of friends, and your child could become an outcast.
Make sure that when you give your child a drug lesson that its in terms they can understand. Keep it age appropriate. For example, a nine or ten-year-old is just starting to notice drugs, and will need plenty of information that is re-inforced over the years. If your child is already fifteen or sixteen, on the other hand, then they probably already know a lot about drugs. In most towns, DARE begins in the 6th grade. However, you child may have even broader experience. It's more than likely that someone at their school uses, and they chalk that up to experience, too.
Learn tolerance for users of drugs. Do not judge someone negatively just because they use drugs. Treat drug users as you would anyone else. Just because they use drugs doesn't mean they are bad people, it means they are people who are using drugs. Chances are that your child will want to taste your wine/beer. Let them have a sip. Most children don't like the taste of alcohol, but some might enjoy it. Remind them the proper way to use drugs. If you catch your child trying Marijuana, then its not a big deal. It is perfectly normal to want to change your consciousness, and they shouldn't be severely punished.
Compare the punishment of Marijuana use to one of skipping class or failing a test. Remember that Marijuana is one of the safest drugs in existence. It is safer than an aspirin. To take a lethal dose of marijuana, you would have to consume thousands of times your body weight in fifteen minutes. However, smoking marijuana does damage lungs and brain cognition in the long-term, so this must be thoroughly explained. Also remember to check that there is no history of mental illness in your family, as marijuana has been linked to illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
There is a difference between drugs when it comes to addictiveness. Most stimulants, like Meth and Cocaine, are very addicting. If somebody gets addicted to them and they can't get the drug, they will go into withdrawal symptoms. Depressants such as Heroin and Vicodin can be addicting as well. Other drugs however, such as Marijuana, Mushrooms, LSD, and Inhalants, aren't addicting. A user of these drugs can become depended on the drug and feel like they need it to function, but they won't have withdrawal effects, like tremors.
They may experience headaches or body aches, and perhaps fatigue, but they go away. It is much easier to quit dependent drugs than addictive drugs. Remember that you could become depended on anything, tap water, playing video games, etc. You could in theory become depended on a certain sound or smell. As an experiment, try to stop caffeine use. Get decaff coffee, and only get caffeine free beverages. Its very hard to do. If you smoke, drink, or take drugs yourself then your child is more at risk for smoking, drinking and taking drugs.
Don't lie to your children about the pleasure aspect of drugs. Tell them something like, "When people take drugs they get high, which is when you feel really happy, dizzy, confused, or dazed. But eventually people can get addicted to drugs and it isn't fun to get high anymore." Remember to present the positives and the negatives of drug use. Presenting the negatives last can help them make their decision. Don't try to downplay the positives of drug use and don't exaggerate the negatives. Many children and teens are under the impression that there is a difference between illegal drugs and OTC or prescription drugs.
Let them know that a drug is simply anything that changes normal body function, and all drugs have benefits to them, and side effects. The reason that illegal drugs are illegal is because they have potential for abuse. OTC drugs have a low potential for abuse, and that is why anybody that is at least eighteen can buy them. Prescription drugs need to have a doctor's approval before using. This is because they have some potential for abuse, and it is illegal to take them without a doctors prescription. Illegal drugs have no accepted medical use, and they are damaging (most of them) to the body and can be addictive.
Many illegal drugs have medical use, such as amphetamines (speed, crystal, crank). Dextroamphetamine and Methamphetamine (crystal meth) are used for ADHD, narcolepsy, and obesity. Do not turn to government supported programs to discourage use. These programs are very inaccurate and exaggerated. Most of the Marijuana information you get on TV is not true and biased. Make sure that your tone of voice doesn't imply you are angry at them. If you are planning on sounding very strict and mad while you give your lesson to try to scare them away from drugs, then don't.
Be truthful; do not make up lies about drugs, just use general well-known facts. It's very hard to guarantee that you, as a parent, will have the ultimate effect. Other circumstances, possibly within the family, could influence the child inadvertently to use drugs. Remember, in a family where drugs are labeled as "bad," any child trying to rebel could see drugs as an effective way to do so. Being controlling and overprotective by keeping your child out of 'dangerous' social situations will only cause them to lose respect for you and mistrust your judgment.
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