Drug addiction, especially among youth is one of the topmost concerns of any society. Every now and then we hear or read unfortunate incidents of teen deaths due to overdose of drugs. According to the data released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), around 20 million people in the US alone are abusing substances including drugs, alcohol, marijuana, etc.
In view of this, a survey was conducted by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) on students from 360 public and private schools. As per the results, 71.0% of high school seniors do not view regular marijuana smoking as being harmful. Furthermore, the abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs in the US is exacting more than $740 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare.
Addiction, however, is an epidemic based on biochemical abnormalities, and it should be treated as a disease, not a crime. Before that, educating children about the consequences of substance abuse is of paramount importance for parents, teachers and educators because prevention is much easier than treating the addiction.
So here are 5 ways with which you can prevent drug addiction in your child:
- Communicate with your child regularly
- Be part of your child’s life
- Encourage them to follow their interests and hobbies
- Build self-esteem in your child
- Discuss harmful effects of drugs/alcohol with them
A regular communication with your kids is very essential since it is the key to know what is going on in their lives. Let them know how you feel about them and how important is their value in your life. Try to appreciate everything positive that your child does such as good grades, better at a sport, helping out a friend or being talented in a particular area. The idea is to make sure they should know that your notice their positives. This encourages the positive behavior in them, leading to positive reinforcements. If in case you child becomes addicted, be supportive of treatment and motivate them to work hard at it. Many adolescents sadly come in contact with heroin and other opiates, whose recovery is long and excruciating. In such situation, you need to clearly communicate treatment steps to recover from heroin addiction. Make sure your child knows you will be there to reward sobriety.
As and when children get older, parents generally feel it harder to stay involved in their lives. Thus as a parent, it is important for you to be there physically as well as emotionally. Make sure to attend events that involve your child such as sports, play or recital. Always be available to lend your emotional support by asking about your child’s daily routine (achievements and difficulties) and let him or her know that you are there to support no matter what. Your blissful presence in your child’s life will make him feel more comfortable in discussing problems and asking questions.
You need to tell your child or any other kid for that matter that young age is all about dreaming big, enjoying life and putting a strong foundation for bright future. A pep talk with them about career choices, hobbies and interests will make them more optimistic towards life. Some children are good at studies; some are excellent at sports; while some like other extra-curricular activities. Igniting such innate and natural interests will prevent them from going towards intoxication, plus pursuing hobbies can serve an excellent career option for kids. Moreover, knowing what they need to do in their life at a very young age, children are more likely to stay away from drugs during their lifetime.
When low self-esteem combines with biochemical proclivity for addiction, it becomes extremely hard for children to resist substance abuse. It has been seen that the lack of self-esteem is pervasive among teenagers and adolescents who are mired with addiction. With an effort to preempt this, you need to act towards building self-esteem in your child. Talk to them if they are having difficulties of any sort, and tell them the virtue of being positive in life. Some children have emotional issues and lack social skills, which is pretty much normal because every child is different. It is the job of parents to find good in their children and build on it.
In addition to setting a good example for yourself, it is imperative to address the topic of drugs and alcohol with your child early on. Discuss at length the harmful impacts of substance abuse on mind, body and spirit; as well as lethal consequences associated with them. You need to educate them about the most addictive substances and how these can ruin your child’s life. However, when you are talking to your child or teenager about substance abuse, try not to choose words that reflect anger or judgment. Kids may be young, but they are highly attuned to the way their parents speak to them. So, the hint of condescension and being judgmental can destroy the connection that you are trying to build with them.
The life of your child is precious. You cannot and should not afford to lose him or her to addiction. Hence it must be your topmost priority to prevent your child from going towards substance abuse even remotely, and provide positive reinforcements that will help them in a long term basis.