It’s every parent’s fear: their kids doing drugs. In general, most kids will try something before the age of twenty, and it’s a fairly natural part of experimenting with the world around them. However, some kids will have an addiction problem before they hit puberty. So what possesses them to do this?
As with many things, a lack of trustworthy information is usually an indirect cause of many kids getting into drugs. A lot of drug information is hyperbole about the effects, as in general, most drugs are not actually as bad as many information sources make out. You might remember the fried egg advertisements solemnly stating: “This is your brain on drugs.”
Hyperbole does not inspire trust. Neither does simply saying that drugs are bad without offering any information. You need to have a frank conversation with your kids about the effects of drugs, but it needs to be nonjudgmental. They need to feel as though they can turn to you for help if they get into trouble or if they need help getting clean and off drugs.
Again, how you conduct yourself is important to how your kid deals with drugs. What we mean by this is that if you regularly drink to excess, your child has a much greater chance of becoming an alcoholic. You need to model sensibility and moderation. This means not drinking during the day and only keeping a small amount of alcohol in the house.
It also means seeking drug abuse treatment if another drug is affecting your ability to work or generally live life. A child of an addicted parent is eight times more likely to end up an addict.
So, if you’re living life reasonably soberly, why else might your kid become an addict? Well, it all depends on the company your kid keeps.
In their teenage years, parents are seen as less important than friends. Part of the reason is that friends are more likely to understand exactly what your kid is going through and that their friends don’t restrict them. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t place restrictions on your kids-that’s an integral part of parenting. Just don’t expect your kids to always respect and enjoy those restrictions.
Your kid’s friends are the most likely reason that your kid will enter into addiction. If your kid understands the risks of taking drugs (especially glue-the average age of a solvent addict is 12), he or she is likely to have the power to say no. However, friends can be powerful influences, and sometimes you need to restrict who your kids hang out with. You need some indication that they’re actually doing something-kids who are restricted too much are much more likely to rebel (authoritarian parenting doesn’t work that well). It’s a fine line, but graduated sanctions are generally the way to go.
In general, one or two kids are generally the leaders, and the others are followers. It sounds a little Lord of the Flies, but that’s how most cultures around the world, including our own, are set up. You get one or two who are willing to stand out and express dissent, but that’s relatively rare.
So, you’ve found out which of your kids friends are most likely to lead your kid astray and you’ve reduced contact. What else is there?
Well, if your kid is bored and able to browse the Internet at will, it’s quite likely that he or she is likely to come across various sites that promote drug taking, even detailing how to make and take them. While it’s unlikely that your kid will become addicted to meth this way, your child might look at taking poppers (amyl nitrate), solvents, or even mild hallucinogens that can be obtained through everyday ingredients. Alternatively, they might just steal your alcohol. That’s why we suggest reducing your alcohol stocks.
Kids who are not appropriately stimulated get bored, and a bored kid is a restless kid, especially if they’re quite bright. A bored kid is more likely to experiment with various things. Some take apart items, whereas others do drugs or alcohol. It’s all about finding something to do.
Your child is dependent on you up until the age of eighteen and is reliant on you for support and guidance. While friends change and people move on, their parents remain the same and should only be but a short phone call away at most. It’s your guidance that should help them steer clear of addiction. If your teen is falling prey to an alcohol, drug or behavioral addiction, get them help.
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