By Jerome R. Barry, LMHP, LADC
Director of Bryan Independence Center
School is out for the summer and it’s time to hit the pool and enjoy time with friends. Summer is an exciting time for kids and teens, but it can also be a time where temptation for trouble runs higher, like exploring alcohol and drugs. Too often parents either avoid the topic of alcohol and drugs with their children, or when they talk about it it’s in a judgmental way.
Talking to your children about drug and alcohol use is very important. How you approach the topic is equally as important.
How to Talk with Your Child About Drugs and Alcohol
- Talk to your child as if they are an adult; this keeps you from coming across as too critical, causing the conversation to go sour
- Address the perceived short-term pleasure versus the factual long-term consequences. Especially when discussing marijuana, be sure to share the slow, gradual and sometimes hard to notice degeneration of motivation and memory
- Have true stories ready to share about your use or about someone you know
Your goal is to help your child consider whether use of alcohol or drugs helps them in some way. Help them consider consequences in advance. Help them to learn from others who have gone down these roads before them. Help them see into the future and visualize a picture of themselves over time.
Above all else, keep your emotions out of the conversation. This should occur like a conversation about career choices, college choices, what vehicle to drive, etc. If the conversation becomes emotional, change subjects and come back to this one when you can stay calm, factual and unconditionally loving.
Things to Learn About Your Child
You want to know if they:
- Are intrigued or interested in trying alcohol or drugs
- Will let you know if and when they have tried alcohol or drugs
- Have tried alcohol or drugs
- If they have tried alcohol or drugs, you want to know the results of that experience; did it meet any social or emotional needs?
- Are getting the correct facts about alcohol or drugs
If you are into “snooping” or “catching them,” then you need to regroup and sit down for a conversation as you are going down a road that will not likely be a smooth ride. Even if you are not even the least bit concerned that your child may try alcohol or drugs, it’s still important to talk with them about alcohol and drugs.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Remember what you model to your children has an impact.
- Do they hear you talk about looking forward to a glass of wine to relax?
- Do they hear you talk about looking forward to a cold beer as a reward for a long, hard day?
- Do they see you drink in excess?
- Do they witness alcohol being the center and pivotal component of your social life?
- Do they see you alter other events in your life so you have access to alcohol?
- Do they see you smoke but hear you suggest that they never start?
If your child or teen is experiencing issues with drugs and alcohol, we encourage you talk with an expert at the Bryan Independence Center. Visit bryanhealth.org/alcohol-drug-treatment or call 402-481-5268 today.