Parents Preventing Drug Abuse and Addiction

teens smoking marijuanaThere’s no one in the world in a better position to prevent drug abuse than parents. They are the only ones who see those children every day and can monitor the changes in their appearance and behavior. They know the child’s weaknesses and where he or she needs help. But it seems that many parents count on schools or other entities to take on the responsibility of educating their children on the perils of drug abuse.

I can understand some of the reasons for this. After all, many parents used drugs when they were growing up and in most cases they decided to quit and move on to more productive activities, like having families and raising children. And they may not have the information that the illicit drug market is drastically different than what they faced. They also may not realize how the thinking and culture of their children’s generation has changed. As one mother said in an open letter to other parents, “Kids today speak a different language regarding what is normal. We were in shock at how blatantly they talked about using these drugs as if they were having a pizza.”

I’m also sure that parents do not realize how easy it is for their children to start using drugs and then progressing to other, harsher, more addictive drugs. A story in the Vancouver Sun illustrated this point. One young man spoke about his start smoking pot. It was as simple as one of his friends saying, “We should smoke some pot this Halloween.” He did, because it was a route to having more friends. When he got high, his problems and depression lifted. He loved the feeling and rapidly became a regular pot smoker. Within a month, he moved on to mushrooms.

When he went to his parents about his pot use, his mother was very concerned but his father “was unsure of whether to draw a hard line in the sand or take the more accepting approach to see if he could put himself in a position where I could share more things with him. What inevitably happened was I remained dishonest with him and took his ambivalence as a form of complacency.”

In his book, How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid, the author Joseph Califano cites research that states that if a child can make it to 21 without using drugs or alcohol, he is virtually certain never to have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

If you’re a parent, please take a very definite line about drug abuse: none. And about underage alcohol use: none. That is one of the most important things you can do in preventing drug abuse – right after you set an excellent example of sobriety yourself.

Open letter:
Callum’s story: