Take Five Minutes to talk to your kids about drugs, and it could save a life.
A five-minute conversation now can make a huge difference toward keeping your kids away from drugs.
So, Take Five and start talking with your kids today.
What Parents Need to Know
5 – 8 Years Old
- Now is the time to begin explaining what alcohol, tobacco and drugs are.
- Discuss how anything you put in your body that is not food can be harmful.
- Explain the idea of addiction, that drug use can become a bad habit that’s hard to stop.
- Praise your children for taking good care of their bodies and avoiding things that might harm them.
9 – 11 Years Old
- Children this age can handle more sophisticated discussion; use their curiosity about traumatic events (such as car accidents or divorces) to discuss how drugs could cause these events.
- Friends become extremely important at this time, and older children may expose your child to alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Rehearse scenarios in which friends offer drugs.
- “Upsetting my parents” is one of the top reasons preteens give for why they won’t use marijuana; give them permission to use you as an excuse, such as, “My mom will kill me if I drink a beer!”
12 – 14 Years Old
- Adolescence is often a confusing and stressful time as teens try to figure out who they are and how to fit in. Nearly nine out of ten teens agree that “it seems like marijuana is everywhere these days.”
- Take advantage of a teen’s concerns about social image and appearance to point out immediate, distasteful consequences of tobacco and marijuana use: bad breath, stained teeth, smelly hair and clothes. Point out that drug use is not only dangerous, but can also lead to broken friendships, even prison.
- Also point out long-term consequences, such as brain damage, cancer, and the potential for accidents, coma or death.
15 – 17 Years Old
- Older teens have already made decisions about whether or not to use drugs. Now is the time to help them continue to resist peer pressure.
- Use specific reasons to reinforce why drugs are bad: addiction, birth defects, car accidents, prison.
- These students are thinking about their futures; remind them that drug use could ruin their chances of college acceptance or embarking on their career choice.
Making Prevention Work
The following tips can help keep your family and friends free of the consequences of using or abusing alcohol and other drugs:
- Support proposed public policy changes likely to make your community, state or country a safer, healthier environment. Examples: restricting distribution of alcohol at public events.
- Be a positive role model.
- Do not engage in illegal, unhealthy or dangerous drug use. Do not use or store illegal drugs in your home.
- Model low-risk alcohol use and ask others to do so as well. Be a responsible host and driver.
- Model and encourage good health practices and plan activities with friends and family that are alcohol- and drug-free.
- Encourage individual expression and creativity and respect for nature and the human spirit.
- Be aware of the connection between alcohol or drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, because using alcohol or drugs can lead to unplanned, unprotected sex and many drugs interfere with the body’s immune system.
- Establish and enforce rules against underage drinking.
- Don’t send mixed messages. Don’t let children taste your alcoholic drinks, even if it is just at home.
- Store alcohol and prescription drugs out of the reach of children.
- Be clear and consistent in stating your expectation that underage youth will not use alcohol or other drugs. Let other parents know your views if your children are going to be guests in their homes.
- Help children and adolescents learn the health, safety and legal consequences of using alcohol and other drugs. Be sure they understand that alcohol and inhalants are drugs and can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs.
- Make sure your children have easy access to a wide variety of appealing, drug-free activities and safe, monitored areas where they can gather.
- Discuss alcohol advertising with your children. Ask what they think about the ads and their messages and whether they realize the ads do not teach about the harmful effects of alcohol.
- Provide lots of love, support and encouragement. Help your child learn to do something well.
If you use …
- Don’t involve your children in your alcohol or drug use. They shouldn’t be asked to get your beer or light your cigarette.
But if a family member or friend exhibits signs of an abuse problem…
- Be prepared to connect him/her with appropriate help in your area.
- Help your (other) children understand that they are not responsible for problems adults or others experience. Learn what you can do to help buffer the stress for children living with someone who has a substance abuse problem to reduce their risk of developing serious problems in their own lives. Help them understand that a person’s behavior while under the influence does not necessarily reflect true attitudes.