Alcohol & Drugs
with your kids about alcohol
I have a Drug or Alcohol Problem?
with your kids about alcohol & drugsl
We need to help our kids to distinguish fact from fiction. And it's not too soon to begin. National studies show that the average age when a child first tries alcohol is 11; for marijuana, it's 12. And many kids start becoming curious about these substances even sooner. So let's get started!
Student surveys reveal that when parents listen to their children's feelings and concerns, their kids feel comfortable talking with them and are more likely to stay drug-free.
Role play how to say "no"
Role play ways in which your child can refuse to go along with his friends without becoming a social outcast. Try something like this, "Let's play a game. Suppose you and your friends are at Andy's house after school and they find some beer in the refrigerator and ask you to join them in drinking it. The rule in our family is that children are not allowed to drink alcohol. So what could you say?"
If your child comes up with a good response, praise him. If he doesn't, offer a few suggestions like, "No, thanks. Let's play with Sony PlayStation instead," or "No thanks. I don't drink beer. I need to keep in shape for basketball."
Allow your child plenty of opportunity to become a confident decision-maker. An 8-year-old is capable of deciding if she wants to invite lots of friends to her birthday party or just a close pal or two. A 12-year-old can choose whether she wants to go out for chorus or join the school band. As your child becomes more skilled at making all kinds of good choices, both you and she will feel more secure in her ability to make the right decision concerning alcohol and drugs if and when the time arrives.
Provide age-appropriate information
Make sure the information that you offer fits the child's age and stage. When your 6 or 7-year-old is brushing his teeth, you can say, "There are lots of things we do to keep our bodies healthy, like brushing our teeth. But there are also things we shouldn't do because they hurt our bodies, like smoking or taking medicines when we are not sick."
If you are watching TV with your 8 year-old and marijuana is mentioned on a program, you can say, "Do you know what marijuana is? It's a bad drug that can hurt your body." If your child has more questions, answer them. If not, let it go. Short, simple comments said and repeated often enough will get the message across.
You can offer your older child the same message, but add more drug-specific information. For example, you might explain to your 12-year-old what marijuana and crack look like, their street names and how they can affect his body.
Establish a clear family position on drugs
It's okay to say, "We don't allow any drug use and children in this family are not allowed to drink alcohol. The only time that you can take any drugs is when the doctor or Mom or Dad gives you medicine when you're sick. We made this rule because we love you very much and we know that drugs can hurt your body and make you very sick; some may even kill you. Do you have any questions?"
Be a good example
Children will do what you do much more readily than what you say. So try not to reach for a beer the minute you come home after a tough day; it sends the message that drinking is the best way to unwind. Offer dinner guests nonalcoholic drinks in addition to wine and spirits. And take care not to pop pills, even over-the-counter remedies, indiscriminately. Your behavior needs to reflect your beliefs.
Discuss what makes a good friend
Since peer pressure is so important when it comes to kids' involvement with drugs and alcohol, it makes good sense to talk with your children about what makes a good friend. To an 8-year-old you might say, "A good friend is someone who enjoys the same games and activities that you do and who is fun to be around." 11 to 12-year-olds can understand that a friend is someone who shares their values and experiences, respects their decisions and listens to their feelings. Once you've gotten these concepts across, your children will understand that "friends" who pressure them to drink or smoke pot aren't friends at all. Additionally, encouraging skills like sharing and cooperation -- and strong involvement in fun, healthful activities (such as team sports or scouting) -- will help your children make and maintain good friendships as they mature and increase the chance that they'll remain drug-free.
Kids who feel good about themselves are much less likely than other kids to turn to illegal substances to get high. As parents, we can do many things to enhance our children's self-image. Here are some pointers:
If your child becomes withdrawn, loses weight, starts doing poorly in school, turns extremely moody, has glassy eyes -- or if the drugs in your medicine cabinet seem to be disappearing too quickly -- talk with your child and reach out to any one of the organizations listed here. You'll be helping your youngster to a healthier, happier future.
Offer lots of praise for any job well done.
If you need to criticize your child, talk about the action, not the person. If your son gets a math problem wrong, it's better to say, "I think you added wrong. Let's try again."
Assign do-able chores. A 6-year-old can bring her plate over to the sink after dinner; a 12-year-old can feed and walk the dog after school. Performing such duties and being praised for them helps your child feel good about himself.
Spend one-on-one time with your youngster. Setting aside at least 15 uninterrupted minutes per child per day to talk, play a game, or take a walk together, lets her know you care.
Say, "I love you." Nothing will make your child feel better.
Repeat the message
Information and lessons about drugs are important enough to repeat frequently. So be sure to answer your children's questions as often as they ask them to initiate conversation whenever the opportunity arises.
If you suspect a problem, seek help
While kids under age
12 rarely develop a substance problem, it can -- and does --
happen. If your child becomes withdrawn, loses weight,
starts doing poorly in school, turns extremely moody, has
glassy eyes -- or if the drugs in your medicine cabinet seem
to be disappearing too quickly -- talk with your child and
reach out to any one of the organizations listed here.
You'll be helping your youngster to a healthier, happier
with your kids about drugs
Talking about issues such as drugs may be difficult. This card is designed to help you discuss drugs more easily. By maintaining open communication and giving them the truth, you can help your child live a drug-free life.
What do you say?
Tell them that you love them and you want them to live a healthy and happy life.
Say you do not find alcohol and other illegal drug use acceptable. Many parents never state this simple principle.
Explain how this use hurts people.
Discuss the legal issues. A conviction for a drug offense can lead to time in prison or cost someone a job, driver's license, or college loan.
Talk about positive, drug-free alternatives and how you can explore them together. Some ideas include sports, reading, movies, bike rides, hikes, camping, cooking, games and concerts. Involve your kids' friends.
How do you say it?
Calmly and openly - don't exaggerate. The facts speak for themselves.
Face to face - exchange information and try to understand each other's point of view. Be an active listener and let your child talk about fears and concerns. Don't interrupt and don't preach.
Through "teachable moments", in contrast to a formal lecture, use a variety of situations: television news, TV drama, books, newspapers.
Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time speech.
Remember that you set the example. Avoid contradictions between your words and your actions. And don't use illegal drugs, period! Even if marijuana is legal.
Learn to read between the lines.
Be creative! You and your child might act out various situations in which one person tries to pressure the other to take a drug. Figure out two or three ways to handle each situation and talk about which works best.
Exchange ideas with other parents.
respect, and genuine curiosity, and the dividends will pour
in when its time to talk about other serious issues.
And guess what, theyll probably listen to you more
often and even come to you for advice when the going gets
tough. How can you go wrong?
Get the Facts:
Alcohol affects your brain. Drinking excess alcohol leads to a loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowed reflexes, distorted vision, memory lapses, and even blackouts.
Alcohol affects your body. Alcohol can damage every organ in your body. It is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and can increase your risk for a variety of life-threatening diseases, including cancer.
Alcohol affects your self-control. Alcohol depresses your central nervous system, lowers your inhibitions, and impairs your judgment. Drinking can lead to risky behaviors, including having unprotected sex. This may expose you to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases or cause unwanted pregnancy.
Alcohol can kill you. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to coma or even death. Also, in 1998, 35.8 percent of traffic deaths of 15- to 20-year-olds were alcohol-related.
Alcohol can hurt
you -- even if you're not the one drinking. If you're
around people who are drinking, you have an increased risk
of being seriously injured, involved in car crashes, or
affected by violence. At the very least, you may have to
deal with people who are sick, out of control, or unable to
take care of themselves.
You Risk It: Know the law. It is illegal to buy
or possess alcohol if you are under 21.
Stay informed. "Binge" drinking means having five or more drinks on one occasion. About 15 percent of teens are binge drinkers in any given month.
Know the risks. Mixing alcohol with medications or illicit drugs is extremely dangerous and can lead to accidental death. For example, alcohol-medication interactions may be a factor in at least 25 percent of emergency room admissions.
Keep your edge. Alcohol can make you gain weight and give you bad breath.
Look around you. Most teens aren't drinking alcohol. Research shows that 70 percent of people 12-20 haven't had a drink in the past month.
Know the Signs: How can you tell if a friend has a drinking problem? Sometimes it's tough to tell. But there are signs you can look for. If your friend has one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may have a problem with alcohol:
What can you do to help someone who has a drinking problem? Be a real friend. You might even save a life. Encourage your friend to stop or seek professional help. For information and referrals, call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 800-729-6686.
Questions & Answers:
Aren't beer and wine "safer" than liquor? No. One 12-ounce beer has about as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a wine cooler.
Why can't teens drink if their parents can? Teens' bodies are still developing and alcohol has a greater impact on their physical and mental well-being. For example, people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
How can I say no to alcohol? I'm afraid I won't fit in. Remember, you're in good company. The majority of teens don't drink alcohol. Also, it's not as hard to refuse as you might think. Try: "No thanks," "I don't drink," or "I'm not interested."
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
binge-drinking on your birthday can lead to dangerous
The study followed 600 soon-to-be 21-year-olds who intended on celebrating their newfound legality by drinking. The researchers followed the subjects for a year and found that those who drank a lot on their birthday drank more heavily afterwards as well.
During the study's follow-up period, people who went all out on their birthdays drank 10 percent more than the typical participant on a night out. When compared to those who never drank before their birthday, the number rose to 17 percent.
In the U.S., if you have one glass of wine a night, you are in the top 30 percent of drinkers. Having two glasses every night puts you in the top 20 percent and 10 drinks per day, according to Stephen Cook's book "Paying The Tab," puts you in the top 10 percent.
So enjoy your birthday, but try not to
go overboard. It could have more consequences than that
dreaded hangover the next morning.
ways to have fun at parties as the only sober person
1. Be the bartender. When you start making drinks for the party, you get to talk to everyone. And everyone is impressed that the sober person makes a damn fine cosmo!
2. Learn some secrets. I always use get-togethers as an opportunity to practice my social skills. I read somewhere that conversations are made up of two or more people vying for attention. Intentionally or not, people often try steering the conversation back to themselves. When I'm at a party, I make a conscious effort to keep the other person talking. People will tell you all sorts of things!
3. Pretend. Just go ahead and sip that straight tonic like it's a gin and tonic. It's like you're under cover. And the weird thing is, people treat you differently when you act like one of them, which leads me to believe that acting drunk is, in large part, psychological. One time, without realizing it, I started slurring my speech after too much time around too many drunks. Lean in to that slur.
4. Order fancy mocktails. Just because you don't drink alcohol doesn't mean you can't have fancy drinks. There are a number of soft beverage recipes out there that are delicious and look classy AF. One of my favorites is a drink from Hong Kong called the gunner. One part ginger beer, one part lemonade, a lime, and several dashes of bitters, the gunner looks like a cocktail and tastes amazing. (Yes, the bitters has alcohol, but the drink calls for so few shakes that it is diluted beyond any sort of perception.)
5. Eat. You have more room for food. Take advantage of that.
6. Practice your stand-up. I think everyone at one time or another has wanted to be a stand-up comicmaking someone laugh is a rush. What better place to work on your routine than a party. Not only drinkers easier to make laugh, they won't remember if you bomb.
7. Just watch. When I am at any
sort of function with drinking, I channel my inner Jane
Goodall. One of my favorite things to do is pick a spot in
the middle of the action, preferably by the food, and stay
there the whole night and just watch. A party is the perfect
place to study all kinds of drunk, human behavior. Witness
complex mating rituals, overt displays of dick measuring,
bizarre eating habits, and other wildly interesting
behavioral patterns. Who am I kidding? Sit back and enjoy
Questions & Answers
Why do people take bad or illegal drugs?
There are lots of reasons. Maybe they don't know how dangerous they are. Or maybe they feel bad about themselves or don't know how to handle their problems. Or maybe they don't have parents they can talk to. Why do you think they do it?
Why are some drugs good and some drugs bad for you?
When you get sick, the drugs the doctor gives you will help you get better. But if you take these drugs when you're healthy, they can make you sick. Also, there are some drugs, like marijuana or crack, that are never good for you. To be safe, never ever take any drugs unless Mom, Dad or the doctor says it's okay.
What are some of the warning signs of teen drug abuse? Click here.
Think about it!