Posted by: Kathleen Whelton and Avi Pinals who both work in the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services
Marijuana is the most used illegal drug among youth. Almost half of U.S. teens will have tried marijuana at least once by the time they graduate high school. As a parent, you play an important role in helping your teen stay away from drugs. Talking to our children about drug abuse isn’t easy, but it is essential. You have the power to influence your teenagers’ lives for the better. As you think about starting a conversation about drug use with your kids, here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Sit down with them and tell them how you feel about illegal drugs. From the start, explain that you have their best interests at heart and that they have your full support.
2. Learn about and share the risks of marijuana use. In addition to being illegal, marijuana can have very negative effects on your teenager’s life. Kids who smoke are at an increased risk for drugged driving, panic attacks, mental illness including schizophrenia, attention problems, memory loss, lung/throat/mouth cancer, and using other dangerous and addictive drugs.
3. Set clear “no use” rules for alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Let them know that if they lose your trust, they will lose a privilege that is important to them for a period of time. Follow through if they break your rules. Recognize and reward your children for good behavior and positive efforts. Even if your teen doesn’t like your rules, they may be thankful to be able to tell their friends, “I can’t go there, or I’ll get grounded for a week!”
For resources on how to keep your kids safe from drugs and alcohol visit the Bureau of Substance Abuse Service's website. To learn about activities and services in your area for youth visit http://www.mass211help.org or call 2-1-1 (TTY: 508-370-4890). If you have concern about a loved ones’ drug or alcohol use, visit http://www.helpline-online.com or call 1-800-327-5050 (TTY: 1-617-536-5872) 7 days a week.