Drug prevention is much easier than treating drug addiction. Waiting until your child is 13 or 14 years old to educate them about drugs, heroin and addiction is too late. Many addicted teens started using alcohol at age 9 or 10 and then move on to more potent drugs.Children should be taught to fear illicit drug use as early as 5 or 6 years old. Keep it simple for young kids, but be serious. Bend down and look into their eyes when you mean business. You might say, “Never ever take a pill or any medicine from anyone, not even a friend, no matter what they tell you. You can become addicted! You could die!” Does the child know what that means? Probably not yet, but they know the tone of your voice and the energy of your words. As they get older, you can discuss the topic more extensively with them.
1. Be Supportive
Being supportive is important before a child has a problem. Try to support everything positive in your child’s life—good grades, being great at a sport or hobby, helping out a friend or relative—make sure they know you notice the positives. This reinforces the concept of positive behaviors leading to positive reinforcement. Don’t rely on teachers, friends or others to support your child’s good behavior. If your child becomes addicted to drugs, be supportive of addiction treatment and drug rehab; they’ll work hard at it. Make sure your child knows you will be there rewarding sobriety. No enabling! Learn more about enabling vs. loving an addict. Save rewards like cell phones, clothes, etc., until they’re actually earned.
2. Teach your child that negative actions have consequences.
It’s the parents that help build a sense of right and wrong in a child’s brain because they are the most important authority figures for children. Parents ask all the time what we would do if our child acted out. Our reply is—what would your parents do? It resonates when they realize that they are less strict than their parents were. Keep in mind that being strict is not the same as being “mean.”
3. Randomly drug test your children.
Drug tests are an important tool in drug prevention, not just to be used after there is a problem. Begin giving drug tests to any child eleven years old or above. The first time your child is offered a pain pill or a hit off of a joint of marijuana they will be much more likely to say no if their parents have already been drug testing them. You simply explain to your child that children make bad choices sometimes and you want to have as much insurance as possible that they won’t make this bad choice.
Your child will find out it is a great tool for them as well. If they find themselves being pressured to take a drug they don’t want, as soon as they explain their parents administer drug tests, that’s that. The other kids will back off.
As long as you follow this tip you are ensured to find out very quickly if your child is using drugs
4. Educate yourself about the signs of drug addiction.
Make sure any unusual behavior in your child has an explanation. You are the best observers of unusual behavior, not the school, not your doctor and not other authority figures. If you aren’t sure whether something is a sign of drug addiction, do a drug test. ( If you are following these tips and strategies you should be drug testing already).
5. Be involved in your child’s life.
Become involved in their sports, their hobbies, their interests and at school. Reward the good behavior, and teach that there are consequences for bad behavior. Trust us, it’s much more fun to be involved in sports and hobbies than to be involved in lawyer visits, court dates, and counseling for drug use and addiction – not to mention going broke, losing people we love, damaging relationships and risking death on a regular basis – the penalties that go along with a life of heroin and/or drug addiction.
6. Don’t assume it couldn’t happen to your family.
Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It cuts across all social and economic levels, races and religions and it can happen to any family. Since the underlying problem is in most cases biochemical, it can happen to anyone. Believing it can’t possibly happen in your family could be your biggest mistake.
7. Monitor your child’s technology at all times.
These days none of us can live without our technology. As much as you love your laptop and iPhone your child loves it twice as much. It holds all their secrets. This includes conversations with friends, their location ( because of GPS ) and by looking at what they are doing with their phone you can learn a lot about your children that they might not feel comfortable sharing with you otherwise.
My Mobile Watchdog is the service that was recommended by the FBI in one of their documentaries on the heroin epidemic in our country. With this service, you can see your child’s location, read their text messages in real-time, be alerted if a number unknown to you is calling or texting, restrict numbers and ever turn their phone off if you want to make sure they aren’t on it all night. Not to mention it’s a whole lot easier to take a cell phone away for bad behavior if all you have to do is punch a few numbers on your computer that will make the phone only capable of calling 911.
Children don’t have privacy. The phone they use is a privilege, even if they purchased it with their own money or got it as a gift. You are the parent and your job is to protect them. That is what you are doing. They can complain about it in 20 years while successful and drug free. This tip is a must do. There are lots of different services to monitor their tech, My Mobile Watchdog is just one.
8. Keep your eyes open for signs of abuse by friends or relatives.
Abused children have a higher risk of addiction. If your child acts strange around a relative or friend or seems to not want to be around them, this could be a danger sign. Abusers usually threaten if silence is broken, so kids won’t tell you. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to how children react around certain people. Abuse doesn’t discriminate either and happens in our society at all levels.
9. Build self-esteem in your child
Self-esteem issues are universal in drug addicted teenagers and need to be treated with counseling. Again, be involved in their lives and reward good behaviors. Not everybody is born good-looking, smart or with perfect bodies. Some individuals have emotional issues and lack social skills. It is up to you as parents to find the good in your children and build on it. Everyone has positive qualities, and it is up to us to bring out their best.
10. NEVER take drugs with your child.
Your child shouldn’t be your friend in the same way you are friends with other adults. It’s true that sometimes a child can be a friend, but a teenager may find this confusing. They might believe they should be able to do whatever you do, but your respect is on the line! If they become addicted, they’ll likely have issues of anger and guilt and could blame you for a part of their addiction. You, on the other hand, will definitely have issues of guilt and will blame yourself for part of their addiction.
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Written by Recovery Advocate for Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™, Heroin News, and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)
We are a community for recovering heroin addicts providing support and recommending the best treatments and clinics to people interested in conquering their addiction.
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