When you are proud of your son or daughter, tell him or her. Knowing they are seen and appreciated by the adults in their lives is highly motivating and can shore up their commitments to avoid drug use. Your teen may also be impressed by the importance of serving as a good role model for a younger brother or sister. One answer might be that they might not realize how dangerous the bad things are; another is that they are not taking care of themselves. Sometimes people start using a drug just to see what it feels like, but it can turn into an addiction (like cigarettes) and it's very hard to stop.
You can discuss how drugs are powerful chemicals that change the way you feel. Doctors prescribe medicine to make sick people better — these are "good" drugs. "Bad" drugs are ones that aren't given by doctors and don't make you better; in fact, they can harm your body. That is why it is wrong to take these "bad" drugs. A small amount of alcohol has a much greater negative effect on a child's body than on an adult's; even a small amount can sicken a child. Don't give your child more information than necessary. If the answer is "yes," give the reasons why you feel you made a mistake; for instance, it made you feel out of control, you missed schoolwork, messed up in sports, let down your friends or lost touch with them.
This year is both an exciting and challenging time for children. They're little fish in a big pond and desperately want to fit in. Because your children may now see older students using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs and may think they are cool and self-assured, your children may be tempted to try drugs, too. Drug use goes up dramatically in the first year of middle school or junior high. No matter where you live, your children will be exposed to all kinds of drugs from now on, so you need to be familiar with all the information about drugs that they may be receiving.
The names of drugs and methods of manufacture and ingestion change constantly, so look over the pictures of drugs, paraphernalia, and slang terms on the drug chart on pages 34-39. At this time when peer approval means everything, your children may make you feel unwelcome. But while your children are pulling away from you to establish their own identities or may seem to be embarrassed by you, they need you to be involved in their lives more than ever before. To help your children make good choices during this critical phase, you should: Make sure they're well-versed in the reasons to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
Get to know their friends by taking them to and from after-school activities, games, the library, and movies (while being sensitive to their need to feel independent); Volunteer for activities where you can observe your child at school; Get acquainted with the parents of your children's friends and learn about their children's interests and habits. If it seems that your child is attracted to those with bad habits, reiterate why drug use is unacceptable. While you are teaching the facts about drugs, your child is getting lots of misinformation and mythology from peers.
Myth: Marijuana is not harmful because it is "all natural" and comes from a plant. Truth: Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Myth: It's okay to use marijuana as long as you're not a chronic user or "stoner." Truth: Occasional use can lead to frequent use. Myth: Because sniffing powdered heroin doesn't require needles, it isn't very risky (40% of the high school seniors polled do not believe there is a great risk in trying heroin). Truth: Heroin is dangerous no matter how it's ingested. Once addicted to heroin, users may eventually switch to injecting the drug because it's cheaper.
Myth: Drugs are not that dangerous and I can handle it. Truth: Drug use is extremely unpredictable and affects people differently. Anyone can become addicted to drugs. Myth: Everyone is doing it. Truth: Research shows that more than four out of five eighth graders have not used drugs in the past month. Even among high school seniors (the group with the highest rate of marijuana use), only a quarter of those polled in a national study reported using the drug in the last month. In any given school, most students aren't doing drugs.
If your teen is interested in the debate about whether or not marijuana should be legal in certain circumstances, you can state the facts: Voters' referenda are appearing in some states to legalize marijuana for medical use. Some supporters of medical marijuana are genuinely concerned with exploring the potential for providing sick people with relief from their suffering; others are using the issue to change drug laws in America and to legalize illegal drugs, principally marijuana. To protect consumers, medical protocol is set by health authorities and not determined by popular vote.
Don't believe anything that public service announcements or government commercials say about drugs. Also, don't trust news stories. These are known to exaggerate facts about drugs, or just flat out lie. For true, knowledgeable information, and up to date information, look online for professionals that you may be able to contact in your area who deal with drug addictions. Avoid any drugs. Don't listen to anybody. Make sure that what you tell your child is factual and true. If you tell them that marijuana can kill you, which it can't, then they are bound to find out eventually that it won't. They will be hurt that you lied to them, and will have trouble believing other things you say.
Talk to your child and explain that drugs are dangerous. And not just in abstract - there are lots of examples even among celebrities which show that drug takers usually never get old - they die young and terribly suffering. And even if they were very talented, there is a big chance that further generations will not remember the songs they sang, the movies they starred in and the books they wrote. All they will remember is that those people were drug takers with a terrible reputation. And temporary pleasure received from taking drugs is not worth it.
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