taken from nhs site.
Drugs and your child
It is not an easy conversation to have with your child but being prepared to discuss drugs makes it easier.
Two out of 10 women aged between 16 and 24 and three out of 10 men in the same age bracket have taken illegal drugs in the past year. If your child is in this age bracket, it's never too early or too late to talk about drugs.
1. Take the opportunities to talk when they arise
Four out of 10 parents avoid the issue and leave talking about drugs to schools and the police. It may help to take the opportunity when the subject comes up during TV programmes or in the news. Mealtimes can also be a good forum for discussion.
2. Let them know your values and boundaries
It’s important for your children to know where you stand on drug taking. Be very clear with your opinions on drugs, so they know where your boundaries lie.
3. Avoid scare tactics
Chances are your teenage children know more people who take drugs than you do, so there’s no point saying, “Smoking cannabis will kill you”. But if you point out that cannabis can cause mental health problems and make them forgetful and unmotivated, that will seem realistic to them and be more of a deterrent.
4. Do your homework
Read websites, leaflets and publications so that you understand enough about today’s drugs to talk in an informed way to your children.
5. Know their friends
Peer pressure is the single most powerful factor in determining whether or not your child will take drugs. Get to know their friends. Invite them to the house and take an interest in what’s going on in their lives. If you have good reason to think your child’s friends are involved in drugs, you may need to support your child to find a new circle of friends.
6. Let them know you love them unconditionally
It’s easy to be critical of your children, particularly when they’re displaying typically trying teenage behaviour. But make sure you say – explicitly and often – that you love them no matter what they do. That way they’ll be able to be honest with you about what they’re up to, not just tell you what they think you want to hear.
7. Listen as well as talk
When you're discussing drugs, make sure you don’t preach or give a speech. Let your child tell you about his or her experiences and fill you in on what’s really going on. It’s often easier not to talk face-to-face but to have a conversation side-by-side; when you’re driving in the car, washing up together or preparing food.
8. Don’t be surprised if they argue, get embarrassed or storm off
That’s a normal teenage reaction to talking about difficult subjects. Don’t be put off. A lot of what you say will have sunk in despite their over-the-top reaction. And don’t be afraid to revisit the subject when they’ve calmed down. You’ll be surprised at how much they take in, even while they’re insisting they’re not listening.
9. Make sure they know that the responsibility for their actions rests ultimately with them, not you
You’re trying to help your child make good choices in life about drugs. But the bottom line is that only they can say no to drugs. Be sure they know you support them but emphasise it's up to them to make the positive decision to be drug free.
10. Be realistic
It’s very common for teenagers to experiment with drugs: 32% of 15- to 16-year-olds have tried cannabis at least once. But remember that, of those that experiment, only a small proportion will develop a drug problem.
11. Don’t panic
If you do find out your child has tried drugs, your first reaction may be one of anger or panic. Wait until you're calm before you discuss it with them, and do so in a way that shows your love and concern rather than anger.
12. Get support for yourself
If your child has drug problems, get support for yourself. The charity Parents Against Drug Abuse (PADA) offers help and information. Families Anonymous provides support groups and a helpline for the families and friends of drug users .
13. It’s never too early to talk about drugs
That doesn’t mean you have to discuss crack cocaine with an eight-year-old, but you can empower your child to make wise choices and stand by them from a very early age. You need to make them feel sufficiently strong and independent to be able to say no.
14. …nor too late
Your child may already be using drugs. But there is help out there. Family support, with professional help, can enable a young person to give up a drug habit. Your best starting point is to go to your GP for help. Your GP can discuss with you the possibilities of rehab, either on a day-care or residential basis. Rehab can be provided free on the NHS but there may be a waiting list. Private residential rehab costs anything between £250 and £20,000 a week.
Date published: Tuesday December 11 2007
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