Most addicts say they first heard about drugs or alcohol from friends, not their parents. And, as drug and alcohol abuse climbs to unprecedented numbers among teens, many parents continue to stumble blindly through it, not sure how to prevent the problem, often just hoping that their children will just “figure it out”. A new report finds that nearly one in ten moms and dads didn’t discuss smoking, drinking or drug abuse with their teenagers during the past year.
Why Some Parents Don’t Talk About Drugs
Many speculate on the reasons for parents’ reticence, and while every case is different, there is a common thread among many moms’ and dads’ reasoning. The same report also showed that more than one in five parents don’t think it would make a difference. “They’re going to experiment anyway,” seems to be an idea held in common by a number of moms and dads.
Another reason for the lack of communication may be cultural changes, particularly due to economics. With most parents holding multiple jobs just to make ends meet, family sit-down dinners are no longer as routine as they used to be. Kids often eat dinner in their rooms in front of the TV, or they have their headphones in or their phones on during the meal. This is an obvious hindrance to communication.
Another issue is the number of adults with addiction problems themselves. In fact, hidden addiction runs rampant in today’s society–from alcohol to television to gambling to pornography. It is easy to justify or deny a problem by shrugging it off as “just a few beers”, but parents lose sight of the message they are sending to their children.
Statistics Show Communication Does Make a Difference
No matter what angle you look at it, the truth is that open communication on the subject of substance abuse with your children will substantially decrease their chances of addiction. In fact, national surveys show that teens are more likely to avoid drug and alcohol abuse if they’re under the influence of their parents, such as if they know their parents would not approve.
Narconon Freedom Center Tips for How to Talk to Your Children About Substance Abuse
Discussions with your children about substance abuse do not have to be somber, sit-down affairs. The subject can be casually broached during a car ride or over the dinner table. It may be as simple as asking your child if he or she has ever encountered substance abuse at school or otherwise, and if he has any questions about it. This can open up a whole slew of questions. By showing your child that you are willing to talk about it in a non-judgmental fashion, you will increase your child’s participation and set yourself up as a safe person to talk to.
Do not be afraid to start at a young age (using language and content that would be appropriate, of course) and to get into gritty details with teens. If they have questions that you are afraid to answer, they will seek answers elsewhere.
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