Talking to your teens about addiction is much like talking to them about sex. Both can be very uncomfortable conversations. These days, we know more about addiction, recovery and rehab, and parents have more tools at their disposal to talk to their kids and teens about the dangers of drugs. Here’s new tools and that the Huffington Post recommends.
Letting Your Children and Teens Come to You
Sometimes you don’t have to initiate a talk to your kids. There are times your kids and teens can come to you and talk about their concerns about drugs first.
Younger children may hear about addiction in the news, or that a family member is in recovery. You can point to celebrities at how they’re choosing the wrong way to deal with stress, and if you have a family member in recovery, you can that child that the family member is in a good, safe place where they’re working on themselves.
The Huffington Post recommends that you “take cues from your child” when have a talk about drugs. It’s important to watch their reactions when you talk to them, and you don’t want to cause them anxiety or overwhelm them. This leads into another important tip when talking to kids and teens about addiction: Don’t use what’s called “scare tactics.” Trying to scare a teen away from drugs can cause them to rebel, or try to prove the typical horror stories about addiction are wrong.
Talking About Addiction, Recovery and Rehabilitation With Teens
Thankfully kids and teens are much more aware of addiction and the dangers of drugs today, probably more than ever. As one therapist tells the Huffington Post, “Kids are much more savvy today, and open, honest conversations that take place now can set up the groundwork for keeping substances out of their future.”
Honesty is important when talking to your children and teens. Just like you know when your kids aren’t telling you the truth, they also know when you’re not being honest with them as well.
As one therapist explains, “When we try to hide things from kids, they know that there’s something going on. And if we don’t validate that information or explain what addiction looks like in a person, family or community, we’re doing them a disservice in their own personal development.”
While it’s important to be honest with your kids, sometimes you should be honest to a point. Be candid with your teens about your past drug use, but you don’t have to go into every sordid detail. Tell them enough, and they can sense that you’re telling them the truth.
Many know realize that addiction is indeed a disease, and it’s a good idea to use this phrasing with your teens as well. Let your teens know early that addiction has nothing to do with intelligence, willpower, or morality. Let them know from an early age that addiction doesn’t make somebody a bad person, it means they are sick, they need to get help, and they can get help with the right doctors and therapists.