Substance Abuse Resources
Department of Health and Human Services, Keeping Youth Drug Free by Donna Shalala
National Drug Control Policy/Partnership for a Drug Free America (call: 1-800-788-2800), Anti-drug parenting brochure, teaching kit and parenting skills information
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information -NCADI (1-800-729-6686), Alternately: PO Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20852, FAX 301-468-6433
US Department of Education (1-800-624-0100), Growing up Drug Free: A Parent's Guide - an excellent source of information, Alternately: Dept. of Education, Growing up Drug Free, Pueblo, CO 81009
Ideas and resources about substance abuse presented by Youth.gov
Girl Power (a program of the Department of Health and Human Services)
KidsHealth - Information for parents
Anti-Smoking Resources - aimed at 4-10 year olds
National Institute for Drug Abuse - risk and prevention factors for child and adolescent drug use
Kaiser Foundation - communication tips for parents and list of parenting resources
Office of National Drug Control Policy - tips for talking with your child about drugs and alcohol
Talk with kids about the differences between food, poisons, medicines and illicit drugs
Clearly state for your child what the family rules are. You can explain the need for rules by talking about traffic safety rules and school rules, with which kids are already familiar. Talk in advance about the consequences for breaking the rules.
Communicate to your kids your values and beliefs. Kids want and need moral guidance, not just the facts
Use TV programs, commercials and the newspaper as ways to start a conversation about drugs and alcohol in an unforced way. Discuss the consequences of that person’s choice and who in that person’s life is affected. Has a parent been sent to jail? Who will take care of her children?
When watching TV, do some programs make drug use look acceptable, or do they show the consequences? Discuss this with your child.
Use everyday opportunities to talk with your child. Kids will be less likely to perceive it as a “lecture”, and probably more open to the discussion.
Keep talking with your kids about substance abuse. One discussion is unlikely to impact your child the way many conversations will.
Encourage choice, allowing kids many opportunities to become confident decision makers.
If your child mentions something upsetting, such as his/her knowledge of peer substance use, don’t react in a way that will cut off discussion. Try to move into a calm discussion about why someone might choose to use. Get your child’s opinion on this.
Work on creating an environment in which you can discuss difficult subjects with your kids. They are more apt to come to you for answers if they feel like you will be open to their questions.
Ask your neighbors to let you know if they see unusual/perhaps worrisome activity around the house.
Make sure you know where your kids are, and if there is going to be adult supervision. Speak with the parents of your child’s friends.
Make sure the kids know they can call you at any time to come get them, no questions asked.
Let your kids know your household limits on substance abuse. Remind them that using alcohol is illegal for people under the age of 21, and that drug use is illegal for anyone unless it is medicine prescribed by a Dr. Give them examples so they understand the difference between an antibiotic for an ear infection vs. an illegal/illicit drug.
Talk with your kids about the consequences of alcohol and illegal drug use to the family, society and the user.
Encourage your kids to participate in different activities such as organized sports, scouts, drama, church activities.
Be a good listener. Paraphrase what your child says to you, ask questions often and ask for your child’s input on family decisions. When your child asks a question, ask him/her what they think the answer is. This will give you an understanding of their level of information and where to start with your answer.
Provide age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate information. The answer to the question “What is cocaine?” will not be the same for a seven year old as it is for an eleven year old.
Discuss what makes a good friend, and the difference between being a friend and peer pressure.
Answer questions honestly. If you don’t know the answer, say so and offer to get the information.
Use “I” statements with your kids. For instance, start out with “I am very concerned about....” or “I understand that it is sometimes difficult..............”, rather than “You should/shouldn’t”......., “You better......” or “If I were you........”. You are more likely to be heard by your child and to receive a response.
Be aware of your child’s face and body language. Is he/she uncomfortable - frowning and looking at the clock or smiling, making eye contact? Paying attention to this will help you know how your child is feeling.
If you want to get some information to your child and are having difficulty raising the topic, set up a Dr appointment for a checkup. Speak with the Doctor in advance and have him or her raise the topic.
Build on the theme of nutrition, i.e. what you choose to put into your body and how you choose to use it.
Build on the theme of control, i.e. giving control of your life to someone who wants to profit from you by selling drugs.
Build on the theme of health, i.e. staying healthy means brushing your teeth, eating nutritious foods, getting enough rest, washing hands, etc.
Build self esteem, which can be done in many easy including the following: offer praise for a job well done, criticize the action, not the person, assign doable chores, spend one on one time with your child (at least 15 minutes) once a day, plan a special activity with your child once a week, say "I love you" consistently.
Talk with your child about how you as the parent can be supportive, i.e. giving kids rides home, using code words in front of their friends.
Don’t offer advice in response to every statement your child makes. it is better to listen carefully to what is being said and try to understand the feelings behind it.
If your child tells you something you don’t want to hear, don’t ignore the statement.
Practice ways to say no with your child. Talk with him/her about situations that may feel uncomfortable, like being invited to ride a bike where he/she has been told not to, or being offered an unfamiliar substance. Give your child some responses to use in these situations, such as “I’ll get in big trouble”, “My parents will find out no matter what I say”, “My parents will kill me!”, “I tried it once and I hate the taste”, “My parents trust me not to use drugs, talk with friends about creating a network together to monitor drug use, behaviors, safety.
Help kids make an ongoing commitment to staying drug free.
Get materials and read together.
Model for your kids; Do you need a drink at the end of the day to relax? Model for and talk with your kids about more healthy ways to deal with stress. Talk about compound mistakes: Mistake 1 - Drinking Mistake 2 - Drinking and driving, or driving with someone who has been drinking Mistake 3 - Staying in the car with a drunk driver
Encouraging Words for Kids - download (pdf) a list
Answering the Question: “Did you ever use drugs”
For some parents, “Did you ever use drugs?” may be a tough question to answer. It is quite possible for this opportunity to be a “teachable moment”. If a parent chooses to lie about their own past drug use, they run the risk of losing credibility with their child in the future. It is recommended that parents give an honest answer, although details are not necessary. Ask your child questions about why s/he is asking, and limit your response to the information s/he gives you.
Some things to keep in mind as you respond: Listen carefully, Slow down the dialogue, Elicit feedback frequently, Establish your agenda / goal of the discussion, and communicate it so that your child will not shut you out. Make sure you speak to the danger of drugs, Talk about why you want your kids to avoid making the same mistakes that you did, You may want to speak about what attracted you to drugs (for older kids)
Here are some possible responses:
“What have you learned so far about drugs? It’s true that many adults have tried things like marijuana and cigarettes, and back then we did not know as much as we do now about the harmful effects. I can tell you what I know about those times - would you like to know? Think about your answer”. (This gives your child a choice about information s/he gets about you - they may not want to know)
If they say yes, your response can be something like “I tried it a couple of times but stopped because I decided it wasn’t a good thing to do. So, what do you think?”
The child will probably say something like “I don’t know”.
You can ask “Are you wondering if I would give you permission or think it’s OK because I tried it?”
The child may say something like “If you did it, what’s the big deal?”
You then say something like “Whether I used or not is not the main issue. The main issue is you. I definitely do not want you to use drugs and alcohol. They won’t help you in any way - they won’t make you more popular, solve your problems, or help you grow up. It’s more important for you to continue playing soccer, and studying different subjects in school.”
“I took drugs because some of my friends used them, and I thought I needed to in order to fit in. In those days, people didn’t know about all the bad things that can happen when you take drugs”.
“Everyone makes mistakes and trying drugs was one of my biggest mistakes ever. I want to help you avoid making the same mistakes”.
“I started drinking when I was young, and as you can see, it has been a battle ever since. Because of my drinking, I missed a big part of growing up, and every day I have to fight so I don’t miss out on even more, like my relationships with my family”.
The conversation can go a number of ways. The important thing is to be clear about no drug/alcohol use, and that the conversations continue.
Developmental Research & Programs. Preparing for the Drug-Free Years. Seattle, WA: CHEF. 1998.
Harrity, Anne Swany and Christensen, Ann Bray. Kids, Drugs & Alcohol; A Parents Guide to Prevention & Intervention. White Hall, VA: Betray Publications, Inc. 1987.
Hawkins, David J. Preparing for the Drug-Free Years: A Family Activity Book. 1988 To Order, write t Developmental Research and Programs Box 85746 Seattle, WA 98145 $10.95
Scott, Sharon. Peer Pressure Reversal. MA: Human Resources Developmental Press, 1985, reprinted 1988. To order, write t Human Resources Developmental Press 22 Amherst Road Amherst MA 01002 $9.95
Tobias, Joyce. Kids and Drugs: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals. VA: PANDAA Press, 1987. To Order, write t PANDAA Press 4111 Watkins Trail Annandale, VA 22003 $ 6.95
The following are all from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI), are free and can be requested from the following address: NCADI PO Box 2345 Rockville MD 20852
Ten Steps to Help Your Child Say “No”: A Parents Guide. 1986
The Fact Is.......You Can Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Problems Among Elementary School Children. 1988
Young Children and Drugs: What Parents Can Do. 1987
Resources on Parenting and Communication with Children
Caron, Ann F. Strong Mothers Strong Sons: Raising Adolescent Boys in the 90s. N.Y.: Henry Holt and Co., Inc., 1994.
Coleman, Paul. How To Say It To Your Kids. The Right Words to Solve Problems, Sooth Feelings & Teach Values. N.J.: Prentice Hall Press, 2000.
Developmental Research & Programs. Preparing for the Drug-Free Years. Seattle, WA: CHEF. 1998.
Dinkmeyer, Don and McKay, Gary. The Parent’s Handbook. Circle Pines, Minn: American Guidance Service.
Duke, Marshall P. and Duke, Sara B. What Works With Children. Wisdom and Reflections From People Who Have Devoted Their Career to Kids. GA: Peachtree Publisher LTD, 2000.
Edelman, Marian Wright. The Measure of Our Success. NY: Harper Collins, 1991.
Elium, Don & Jeanne. Raising A Daughter. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1994.
Elium, Don & Jeanne. Raising A Son. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1994.
Elkind, David. The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Soon. NY: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1981.
Ellison, Sheila and Barrett, Barbara Ann. 365 Ways to Raise Great Kids. Illinois, Source Books Inc., 1996.
Glenn, H. Stephen and Nelson, Jane. Raising Self - Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World. CA: Prime Publishers, 2000 (Revised Edition)
Harrity, Anne Swany and Christensen, Ann Bray. Kids, Drugs & Alcohol; A Parents Guide to Prevention & Intervention. White Hall, VA: Betterway Publications, Inc. 1987.
Haynes, Cyndi. 2002 Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2000.
Joslin, Karen Renshaw. Positive Parenting from A to Z. NY: Ballentine, 1994.
MacKenzie, Robert, J. Setting Limits. Rocklin CA: Prince Publishing, 1993.
Nelson, Jane. Positive Discipline. NY: Ballentine Books, 1981.
Popkin, Micheal. Active Parenting. San Francisc Harper & Row Publishing, 1987.
Shapiro, Lawrence E. A Parents’ Guide to Emotional Intelligence. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.