Three Ways to Talk to Your Teenager About Drugs

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If you're concerned that your teenager might be using drugs, then here are three ways to talk to him or her about this very sensitive topic.

As parents, we have a great desire to give our children the best, to prepare them for success, and to ensure that they live pain-free, joy-filled lives. Parents never have all the answers, however, and there are many times when we are filled with uncertainty, sadness and fear when dealing with our children. When something like an addiction or even the threat of experimenting with drugs enters our child’s life, we instantly want to protect them from these things and solve all their problems.

If you are concerned that your child might be using drugs, read on. We will look at three ways to talk to your teenager about this very sensitive topic. Even if you don’t suspect your child is using drugs, it is important to talk to them, because parents have a huge influence when it comes to teen drug prevention. Your kids do hear you; make sure you are saying the right things.

1. Be Calm. First of all, make sure you are in a calm state of mind and in control of your emotions when talking to your kids about drugs. Prevention talks should happen often, and during these talks you should have a normal conversation about what temptations your kids might face as they get older, and about the dangers of drugs.

If your child is using drugs, this advice is even more important. Wait to approach your child until you are able to say what you need to say in an effective manner. Yelling and accusing won’t get you very far, but a clear head and a game plan will. Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio recently wrote an eBook called “How To Help Your Addicted Child,” and in it he lays out some of his advice. “You want to have emotional control…so you can think clearly and communicate in a clear, loving, and non-urgent, intense, or edgy way,” says Dr. Benzio. “Speak clearly, calmly and relatively slowly, so you and the listener can take it in clearly.”

2. Be Firm. Secondly, be firm in your conversations with your teen. When warning your teen about not trying drugs, make your point clearly, state what you expect of your child, and be specific in your wishes. Then clearly state the rewards for meeting expectations and the consequences for not meeting them. Let them know the expectations are for their benefit because you love them and want to help them develop the skills to enjoy life and be more in control of their destiny. Because you care about your child, you do not want to let drugs, the law, or outside agencies have control over them if they start or continue to use substances.

Being the parent of a drug user is difficult, and most parents in this situation feel like they have completely lost control, but this doesn’t have to be the case. “You want to take back control of the situation,” says Dr. Benzio. “You can’t control their decisions to use, but you can show them who is the leader and authority of your house and how you will carry yourself in this situation. You can also let them know and show them that they can’t control you or manipulate you like they might have been doing up to this point.”

3. Be Loving. Most importantly, love your child. A positive relationship with your teen is one of the best resources you have to influence their decisions and keep them away from drugs. Keep the lines of communication open, and encourage your teen to be honest with you if they are confronted with drugs at any time.

For those who are confronting a drug-using teen, this is not the time to get mean or ugly. Keep the tone of the conversation as positive as you can, and continue to reassure them that you love them and only want what is best for them. Again, Dr. Benzio has some great advice. “Above all else, maintain relationship,” he says. “You will be tempted to throw them out, disown them, cut them off, etc. (Those options should only be entertained when physical danger is likely.) Realize they will always be your child and you will always be their only father or mother. Let them know you love them and that some of the decisions you will make and things you will say are because you love them.”

When you dial 1-877-562-2565, you are connected with a trained Lighthouse Network Care Guide who will listen to your story, answer your questions, and find your best treatment options available.

 

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