A report published two years ago revealed that approximately twenty one million Americans above 12 years had substance addiction struggles. Further, another study found that over 8 million children below 18 years stayed with a minimum of either of parents who was struggling with substance abuse.
The above studies and other studies indicate that the young ones are also exposed to substance use, either through direct means or indirectly. John Sovec, a therapist, while speaking to a media agency noted that kids these days have become more savvy than kids of the past and having open and honest conversations with them can serve as a good foundation to shield them from substance abuse.
It is thus important that parents tall about this issue with their kids. However, a lot of parents probably do not know how to speak with their children about this issue. The following are some important factors to take into consideration while speaking to your kids about substance abuse
1. Have an early discussion with your kids
This conversation needs to begin before the kids get exposed to any kind of substance among their peers. By starting early, children will not see their peers as the ideal resource to learn about issues related to substance use. The parents will take that role, and their children will consider them as the first persons to contact whenever they have any question. Always ensure that you remind them that you love and care about them.
2. Keep the Conversation Age Appropriate
The fact that you start early does not mean you have to talk about all addiction details. You need to keep the discussion with your kids age appropriate. According to Lindsey Prevost, you can begin the discussion by talking to toddlers when handing them vitamin. She advised telling them that vitamins help their growth but they should never take the drugs by themselves. Remind them that while taking vitamins is healthy, taking excess quantity or taking vitamins elonging to another person could make them feel sick. You can also start by showing kids the medicine cabinet and informing them that not all the medicine there belongs to them, and so shouldn’t take the drugs that do not belong to them.
3. Use Familiar Concepts and Situations To Explain
Metaphorical references can help in the explanation of the drug abuse or addiction to younger kids. Sovec suggested using the example of a jar of cookies. According to him, explain to them that it is possible for some people to eat one of the cookies and be okay while some might end up eating up the whole cookies just because they are unable to hold themselves back. Those people who eat up the whole cookies may end up feeling sick. The jar of cookies is an example the little ones will find familiar
Prevost noted that whenever her agency explained to kids the science behind the brain that accounts for addiction, they also draw relations to daily experiences.
4. Remain Honest
When having a conversation with children about any form of addiction, it is important that you maintain honesty. Sovec explained that when parents make an attempt to keep things from the kids, it makes them know that something is up. Prevost added that a lot of parents hesitate to have discussions about drugs with their kids particularly when they also used drugs in the past. However, she added that it is very possible to constructively discuss with the kids without having to lie to them.
She said that when kids ask whether you have done what it is you are telling them not to do, you should try to be honest. You do not need to reveal all the tiny details. However, they rely on your credibility and usually know when they are being lied to. She further noted the importance of being candid when the need calls for it for instance, you can explain to them that you tried it and didn’t enjoy the experience. You can highlight the terrible things that could have happened if you had used or explain to them if something bad did happen. You can point that as the reason you are talking to them so they do not make that mistake.
5. Let Them Know That Addiction Is A Disease
Prevost noted the importance of making kids know that a person who is addicted isn’t automatically bad. It only means that such a person is sick. Addiction is more of a disease and even though recovering from it might be quite tricky, it is really possible to get better. She added that the people who have addiction issues need the support and treatment of good doctors .