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Just the other day my son asked me, “Mom, have you ever thrown up?”

My answer: “Yes.”

My son: “Because you were sick?”

My answer: “Yes.”

My son: “Is it true that people throw up because they’re drunk?”

My answer: *blank stare and silence*

My son will be 7 in just a few days. How and when do you tell your children that yes, mommy has made some poor life choices that you’ll probably make too. I won’t condone them but I’ll understand them and try not to punish you too harshly. I’ll know when you’ve had a few beers, so don’t lie to me.

I didn’t answer my son’s question. Instead, I enlisted every mom’s greatest weapon - the diversion.

But it did get me thinking about the right ways to discuss alcohol and drug abuse with my son.

My husband and I drink socially. I enjoy a glass of wine and he’s a Tito’s and tonic kind of guy. My son knows that some of our drinks contain alcohol. He asks a lot of question, which I always encourage.

“Can I smell it?” Yes.

“Can I taste it?” No.

“How does it make you feel?” Sleepy.

I know there are some parents that allow their teens to take a swig of their beer or even have a drink of their own in the safety of their home. In high school we used to party at a girl’s house where her parents were present and so was alcohol.

Her mom put a basket by the door where anyone with a car had to drop their keys. We slept on couches, floors and reclining chairs. Was it the ideal situation? Probably not. But did it prevent people from drinking and driving? Yes.

Some people are of the mind that they don’t condone under age drinking but they’d rather have their children drink in a safe environment. Given the fact that people between the ages of 12 and 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the US, if a kid wants to drink alcohol, they’ll find a way.

I’m not sure which side of this camp I’m on but hopefully by the time my son reaches his teen years I’ll know how to handle it.

Drug use is an entirely different animal.

Because my husband is an officer, the topic of drugs and overdosing has likely been discussed in our household more than most.

My son knows that drugs like heroin, meth, and cocaine are extremely dangerous and can do severe damage to your mind and body. Yes, he knows that you can die from using these narcotics. I don’t tell him this to scare him, but he needs to know how serious drug abuse is. And that trying it just one time is one time too many, considering over 64,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2016.

I’d be lying if I said I’d never tried marijuana but it’s not something I’m proud of, or would probably ever do again. When I was a teen in the 90’s, marijuana wasn’t really talked about. Your friends might show up at a party with a joint and you’d take a hit like it was no big deal.

Now, the use of medical marijuana and cannabis are all too common. Medical marijuana is legalized in 29 states, plus DC. It’s no longer viewed as the gateway drug it once was.

But I’ve also seen the dark side of marijuana use. Not everyone reacts to narcotics the same way - even when it comes to anesthesia or painkillers. Many people feel the benefits of marijuana like relaxation and euphoria. But marijuana psychosis is a real thing. You might be one of those people that react with paranoia and delusions.

I know I can’t shield my son from all things bad in this world. All I can do is educate him, answer his questions, and keep the lines of communication open.

By doing this, I hope he will make the right decisions. And more importantly, I hope he will come to me for help when he makes the wrong ones.

There is always high risk when discussing drug use and it’s a risk I hope my son never takes.

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