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When Should I Talk to My Child About Drugs?

It’s best to talk to children about drugs when they’re young, perhaps much younger than you would expect. The tendency is to want to cross that bridge when you come to it, but by that time, it may be too late. Kids sometimes start experimenting with drugs as early as middle school. If you wait until there is a problem, you will have a much harder time getting through.

You can start talking to you kids about drugs when they are as young as four or five, using “teachable moments.” If you give your child children’s Tylenol for a cold, for example, you can make a point of telling them they should only take medicine you give them or medicine prescribed for them by a doctor. You can also use depictions of drugs in TV and movies as a basis for discussion. It’s important to help them understand the difference between fiction and reality in general, but especially when it comes to depictions of drugs and alcohol in the media.

Don’t just give your kids a spiel about drugs and cross it off your list. Keep this line of communication open with regular discussions. Let your kids know how you feel about drugs and alcohol and what the risks are and ask them what they think. Focus on immediate consequences. Don’t tell them smoking might give them cancer in 40 years because they have no concept of that. Tell them instead that smoking gives them bad breath and makes it hard to breathe, or that drinking will make them act foolishly and possibly get sick. Answer questions honestly and stick to the facts. Scare tactics tend to backfire when they inevitably realize you were exaggerating the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Openness and credibility are essential.

What you say to your kids and when you say it are important, but they aren’t the only ways to protect them against drug abuse and addiction. One big way you can help is by setting a good example. If you don’t want them drinking or smoking, then don’t drink or smoke yourself. They get their ideas about what’s normal by looking at you.

Kids who are neglected, isolated, abused, or don’t feel close to their families are at much higher risk of developing addiction. Most parents who care about whether their kids abuse drugs generally want to be caring and supportive, but it pays to make sure your kids are getting enough positive attention and that they’re making friends.

There’s no sure way to prevent addiction, but raising your kids in a supportive environment and teaching them about drugs from a young age can go a long way. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.