No one wants their child subjected to the cruel and unforgiving world of drug addiction. Currently, most of you know someone affected by drug addition. The statistics are staggering. The reality is, we are in a war and it is one we are not properly equipping ourselves to fight. I believe we need to be aware of ways in decreasing the risk factors for our kids and addiction. Addiction is raw. It rips families apart and destroys lives. We need to fight for our kids like we have never fought before.
If this is war, we have to have a battle plan….
There is no 100% guarantee in eliminating addiction. However, there are ways to greatly reduce the risks in developing an addiction. These are eight strategies I believe are critical in our wage against the development of addiction:
Open communication – Chat with your kids about what your expectations are when it comes to substances. Do not assume they know anything. Be cut and dry. Is drinking or smoking permissible in your home? If not, clarify this. Is experimentation or abuse ok when friends are over? If not, clarify this. Do not assume your kids know right and wrong. Lay the ground work and stick with it. Let them know your outlook on use, abuse and addiction. Your words and heart matter.
Be aware of trends. When it comes to what drugs are most popular or widely abused in your area ignorance can not take a front seat. This isn’t about toting a drug dictionary around with you, but rather being in tuned. What terms or lingo do you hear your kids using that make your ears perk or raise a red flag? Google terms and phrases. Ask your fellow parents what they’re hearing or seeing. I think you’ll be surprised. Know that when we network, it’s a strength. Ask your kids what they’re hearing or seeing in the way of trends. Use Google to do a little research on what drugs pop up in your general area.
Boredom. One of the biggest downfalls for a kid is an excess of boredom. Sitting, staring or just doing nothing will inevitably lead to some form of poor decision making. Whether that’s a solo act or with friends, nothing EVER good stems from a bored kid. We aren’t meant to be sedentary, unstimulated. Kids need to feel like they’re part of something. Whether it’s school activities or in the community, every single kid needs to be connected to something.
I believe every kid needs some element of responsibility at home. Whether this is keeping their room clean, taking out the trash or setting the table being busy and helping develop responsibility and a sense of accountability. Way TOO many parents end up providing maid service avoiding inconveniencing their kids with chores, when they’re actually providing a disservice. Chores instills crazy amazing lessons that absolutely decrease risk factors combining responsibility, accountability and feeling part of something bigger than them.
Decreasing the risk factors for our kids and addiction
Part of this decrease in risk is heavily waited in the restriction of cell phone use. I could fill a thousand pages with the negatives associated with teens and cell phone use, but I’ll hop over that for right now. Cell phones are great for keeping in touch with our kids, but monitoring how they are being used is critical.
I encourage you to check out your kid’s texts every once in awhile. Most will be surprised what their eyes will see. When there is unlimited freedom, the likelihood or poor decision making kicking in is definitely increased. Kids can use their phones for drug deals, bouncing from party to party or just simply excessive use which heightens anxiety and depression.
Limit cell use. Teach them how to communicate without a phone. Communication is critical. We have kids lost in their phones and lacking personal skills all the while comparing themselves to their peers on social media in a world that is posed, poised and polished. Simply unattainable.
One of the greatest tools you can use to reduce risk factors for addiction is sharing your family history. Has any family member suffered or is suffering from addiction on either biological mom or dad’s side? If so, let them know. Share not only what addiction IS, but WHAT it looks like in your family tree. Addiction is messy, heart breaking and heart wrenching.
Let them know they have the choice to use substances, but they also have a greater chance of developing an addiction. This doesn’t mean if they drink a beer they’re going to become an alcoholic right then and there. Maybe they will or maybe they won’t. Unfortunately, there’s not chip installed in us to say ‘you carry this’ or ‘you don’t,’ carry this. It’s a heavy weight to bear as a teen, but it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give them allowing them to know, there are legit risks involved.
If they have a family history of addiction, be an advocate for them when it comes to the prescribing of medications. It’s ok to ask if there are alternatives to a percocet or other form of opiate. Ask questions. Be aware if there’s noticeable changes with them if meds have been prescribed. There’s a chance the dosage may be too low or too high. Things sometimes need to be adjusted. Awareness and advocacy are huge here.
Our outlook on Mental Health is uber important. If we cast a negative shadow on going to counseling it places a buffer with our young people seeking help. If we do not legitimize mental health issues such as depression or anxiety it causes them to question their sanity and impacts their self esteem.
We want to advocate for our kids.Let them know that you are listening, but better yet reinforce that seeking counseling is a strength. Remind them that if they feel a sense of sadness or angst they can approach you. Be approachable. Your words and body language with this topic have to line up. Our support is critical.
Faith Based Programs are something that hold tremendous value. Having a belief and a relationship with God can provide hope and peace. Being connected to a program can provide a sense of accountability and community involvement that keeps them busy and responsible. Most of these are also year round.
Be a good example…
We don’t always think that our kids are watching, but they are. Set an example of living a life that is not substance dependent. I’d also encourage parents to avoid ever being out of control in front of their kids. This means being intoxicated or high on any substance. When we instruct our kids to ‘make good decisions’ and not be drunk, high (weed, pills, whatever) and then we contradict that with our own actions we lose our footing. The life we live has to align with our own words for them. They are watching. Your example is SO important as are your words.
I believe that when we pull these eight strategies together it minimizes our kid’s risk with developing addiction. It has to be implemented consistently. Keep going forward, keep fighting and know your efforts do make a difference. Never give up and remind yourself, they’re worth it. Peace, love & goodness!