As a parent you need to know that drugs are widely available to children and adolescents, even in affluent suburban areas. Alcohol is the most common drug abused by youth, and marijuana is the most common illegal drug. These are sometimes called "gateway drugs" because their use often leads to trying other drugs. Keeping your kids off of drugs requires you to be proactive. Here are some tips:
Start talking to your children about drugs at an early age, as that is when they are most receptive to what you have to say. The aim is not to lecture to them but get them to think about the issues, especially the dangers. Educate yourself about the different drugs of abuse and the warning signs that an individual is using them.
Make sure your children have plenty of interesting things to do - experimenting with drugs often comes from boredom. The period from after school until dinnertime is a high-risk time. Monitor your children's activities and whereabouts, and make sure they are supervised.
Following are some warning signs of drug use:
* Child has new, older friends who avoid you
* Child's best friend is known to use drugs
* Deterioration in appearance or grooming
* A drop in grades
* Use of street slang
* Hypersensitivity or irritability
* Losing interest in previous activities and/or friends
* Mood swings
* Secretive phone calls or text messages
* Money or pills disappearing from the home
If you see some of these warning signs, or have other reasons to suspect your child is using drugs, stay calm, sit down with them and discuss it. Make it safe for them to be honest with you. Tell them that you do not approve of their use of drugs and that you will do everything in your power to prevent it. You have to be willing to have them be angry with you now so they will thank you when they are in their twenties - and you can tell them this. Tell them that you are going to need to know where they are at all times and to make sure there is an adult around. Tell them also that if you find out they are using drugs again you will take them to a treatment program. Then follow through on the threat if need be.