How Can I Prevent My Kids From Taking Drugs?

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Don’t want your kid to wind up in an addiction treatment center? There are no guarantees, but some steps are more effective than others.

Gloria MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.

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I would hope there aren’t too many parents unaware that their kids are introduced to drugs fairly early on and that a good percentage will try them out. It can happen to kids from every type of family: rich or poor, blue collar or white, mid-city dwellers, residents of idyllic small towns where everyone shows up for the local high school baseball games, and even farming communities.

Even kids who would never consider taking drugs are actually taking them without even fully realizing it. They’re the ones who are taking prescription drugs they got from their parents’ or friends’ medicine cabinets. They don’t see that as ‘taking drugs’ – they’re ‘medicine’, and they’re safe because they came from a doctor and because their parents take them. They also don’t realize they’re doing anything illegal.

Nevertheless, these drugs are dangerous and cause prescription drug addiction.

How can you prevent your kids from taking drugs? While there are no guarantees, there are some things that have proven to reduce the chances.

One of the most effective actions is teaching your kids about drugs. Kids whose parents talk to them about drugs are 50% less likely to take them.

How do you do that? First, you have to learn about them yourself – although you don’t have to wait until you’re a total expert to start passing on the information to your kids.

Learn about the most common street drugs and about prescription drugs. There is a wealth of information on the Internet about them – including all the names the drugs go by on the street so you can recognize what they’re talking about if you overhear a conversation. Often kids are offered something and told it’s not a drug. They have no idea what they taking.

For example, there’s a type of heroin becoming quite common with kids. It’s mixed with ground up cold-medicine and is called ‘cheese.’ Crack cocaine is sometimes called ‘beans.’ MDMA pills are also known as ‘batmans.’ OxyContin, one of the deadliest and most addictive prescription painkillers, is called ’40,’ ‘cotton’, or ‘OCs.’ Search the Internet for ‘slang names for drugs’ and you’ll find more.

Take every opportunity to bring up the subject of drugs with your kids. When you’re watching TV and a drug ad comes on, point out the side effects of the drug and tell your kid more about them.

Follow news stories about celebrities. When someone famous, especially someone your kid admires, goes to an addiction treatment center, or if they die, go over what happened with that person, find out as many specifics as you can, and explain it to your kids.

If they play sports, get a list of sports figures who have been suspended or booted off the team because of drugs or have needed addiction treatment. Find out about the drugs most used by athletes, tell your kids why they use them, what positive effects they create, and the negative effects.

Also go over with them why people take drugs – to feel better, for ‘kicks’, to enhance their performance, to help them study, to fit in better with their peers, and so on. Teach them about alternatives to drugs in these various situations, and how to say no.

Find people they admire who do not take drugs. There are plenty of celebrities and sports figures who speak out against drugs. Find out who they are and use them as back-up.

Another thing that goes a long way to preventing drug use is being involved in your kids’ life. Have dinner with them, plan outings and vacations, participate in their school and extra-curricular activities. Have their friends over and make them part of your extended family. And get to know their friends’ parents.

These days you also have to be especially cautious about prescription drugs. Lock them up; don’t leave them where your kids, or their friends, can be tempted.

No matter how much you try to teach your kids, participate in their lives, and protect them from unsavory friends, it’s likely there will always be one kid in their circle who’s drug-oriented. Start teaching them as early as eight or ten years old, and keep it up right through college (where they’ll be exposed to even more drugs.)

Stay up to date yourself, and keep a constant eye on things. You could save your kids’ lives, and save the entire family from years of misery and heartache.



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