If your teen is getting in with the wrong crowd at school, they’ve lost interest in activities as a family, they have become disrespectful towards you, shirk their chores, are argumentative with you and disappear off without telling you where they are going, you may be afraid that they will get involved with drugs or gangs. The teenage years are a transition between childhood and adulthood, where the young person is naturally inclined to try out new things, gain more independence and establish his or her own sense of ideals and opinions. It is during this time that teens universally push the boundaries that parents place on them to see how far they can go.
The desire for autonomy and to rebel against parental guidance can lead some kids to experiment with drugs and gang culture.
Talking with Your Teen about Drugs
Never be afraid to talk to your kids about drugs. Most parents don’t bring up the discussion because they don’t know how, but beginning an open and honest dialogue from the earliest age will mean your child is aware of the dangers of drug use when they enter adolescence and this will make it easier for them to resist peer pressure. Keep the discussion open so they won’t be too nervous to confide in you, should a situation arise.
Ways Teens Can Say No to Drugs
You can make suggestions for how your teen can say no to using drugs or selling them. Honesty is the best policy, rather than distraction techniques that may lead peers to keep on asking or think they can persuade your teen. Blunt and to the point refusals work, such as:
- No thanks, there’s no way I’d ever do drugs
- I don’t have time to do drugs – I’ve got more important things to do with my life
- No thanks, I’m not into drugs
- No thanks – and it’s not up for discussion
- No thanks – I plan on going to university, not prison.
Your teen should leave as soon as they have refused, so as not to invite further debate that could lead their resolve to crumble.
Attempting to educate their friends by their refusal is another way to say no that could even save a life:
- No thanks – did you hear about that boy on the news? (and then relate a story of someone who died from drug use)
- No thanks – people die from drugs and I don’t want to destroy my parents
- No thanks – just imagine how your mom would feel if you died from taking that stuff
- No thanks – I know someone who died from taking drugs
- No thanks – drugs destroy your brain cells
- No thanks – drugs can land you in hospital.
If your teen has ever experimented with drugs in the past they can use their experience to inform others:
- No thanks – I tried drugs once and they made me sick
- No thanks – I tried drugs once and was suspended from school
- No thanks – I tried drugs once, my dad found out and the person who gave them to me got into trouble.
Other friends who may be struggling to fit in with the group and wanting to feel popular and accepted, so hearing your teen’s experience and witnessing their confident refusal may give them the confidence to follow his or her lead.
If individuals within their peer group continue to pressure them to do drugs or distribute them, then you should speak to their parents and the school or consider changing schools to modify your teens environment.
Help if Your Teen is Already Using or Selling Drugs
If your teen has signs of drug use, items from your home have gone missing, they are losing weight, staying in their bedroom a lot, not going to school or becoming violent and you can’t make them see sense, there is help available to you.
The Reality Check program works with schools, the police and families to show kids what happens when drugs and gang culture takes over. Through motivational speaking, the program also empowers them to make the right choices so they can stay away from drugs, avoid prison, stay in school and gain better pass rates for a brighter future.
The first step is to get the online Reality Check Program video. CLICK HERE
For more information, contact Larry Lawton at the Reality Check Program. info@RealityCheckProgram.com or 844-922-4800
Anne Gardener is a Reality Check Program guest columnist