By Ali Bierman
The following questions may save the life of your teenager. These five critical questions will get him talking about his experience and knowledge of drugs. I suggest you have the resources in place to provide the solutions and answers you may need.
To start, simply ask your child, “Do you know that most people get high on drugs to escape feeling bad? Sometimes they feel really great for a while. Then they come down and the same problems are still there, only now some of those people, even after just one experience, have new problems caused by that one-time drug use.”
You will certainly grab his attention. Continue, “What kind of questions do you have, or what do you want to know more about, regarding drugs?”
The object here is to get your child talking—or at least willing to talk. He may tell you he knows everything he needs to know.
Where do you go from there? Be blunt! Come right out and ask, ”Are you now using, or have you ever used, drugs?”
If you observe that he is uncomfortable tell him you noticed his discomfort and ask what is bothering him. If your child is experimenting with drugs, you need to know the details to help him. Continue, “If you needed it, do you know where to find help?”
Listen to him—pay attention to what he says and to the words he does not speak. Notice his body language, hear the underlying message, the words between the lines, his tone, word choice, and pace. Note his emotions, eye contact, and whether he is at ease or trying to conceal any discomfort.
Teens know drugs are dangerous. Some of them use them anyway. Let your child know you are not here to judge him. Live that truth to gain and maintain his trust. You can only help him if he is honest with you.
Most important, let him know you are having this talk because you love him and no matter what he has done, or is thinking about doing, he is safe talking with you. Tell him nothing can change your love for him.
Once you have opened the lines of communication, go on to ask, “Do you know that alcohol, cigarettes and over-the-counter medicines can be as dangerous as illegal drugs?” Watch his face and body for acknowledgement, disagreement, or confusion. Follow up with, ”Even sniffing markers changes the brain. Are you aware that years after they stopped using drugs, some people experience a recurrence of symptoms?”
Ask your child, “Have you ever been in a car with someone who is high on drugs or alcohol? Were they driving?” Regardless of his response ask, “What did you do, or what would you do, in that situation?”
Knowledge is always the best way to live a happy, healthy and successful life. Facts are key. If he has unanswered questions, where can he go for accurate information? The streets, his friends, and the media may not be the best place to find what he seeks on the subject of drugs.
Since drug use is often connected to sex, throw in, “Do you know that alcohol, rather than improving sexual performance, impairs it? And drinking often leads to careless sex and teen pregnancy?” Be sure he knows the consequences of the actions he may or may not take.
Drug abuse happens in all kinds of families and all kinds of neighborhoods. If your child wants drugs, he will find them. Know the signs to look for and – please – do pay attention!
When peer pressure kicks in, a wise and educated youngster who has previously given thought to and made decisions about his actions, has a better chance of living the life he chooses than someone who has not prepared himself for the inevitable emotions and situations that will come up in life.
Actions and results, desirable and undesirable, reflect one’s level of self esteem. To change behaviors, treat the cause not just the symptom.
In some people, addiction and bad reactions, even death, can happen with the very first use. Do you want your kid to take that chance?
Ali Bierman, parent, psychotherapist and author of the popular ebook Parents, You Gotta Ask Questions: How To Build Adolescent Self Esteem, poses 189 questions for you and your teen covering nine areas of life.
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