DRUGS ? NOT MY KID !
Many parents are worried that their child may begin to use drugs. There are stories in the media which swing from shock, horror, addiction and death to so-called debates about the legalisation of cannabis – which is said by some to be harmless.
What are parents to believe ?
They are right to be concerned – drug use should be taken very seriously. This leaﬂet sets out to give some factual information for parents – about the signs and symptoms of use and also about prevention of drug use.
Remember . . . . .
PREVENTION WORKS !
The one question that all parents ask is:
How can I tell if my child is using drugs ?
This is a difficult question to answer quite often the kinds of behaviour associated with drug use can be difficult to separate from the rebellion and mood swings found in many adolescents. However if you find yourself noticing the following things parents should be concerned:
Is your child changing, becoming more secretive, irritable. uncooperative, less affectionate, more withdrawn, less chatty ?
Is school or college work suffering , are grades dropping from A/ B to C/ D, is there talk of leaving school or dropping out if college, is homework not completed, does the school contact to query unexplained absences ?
Have friendship groups altered, has your child stopped seeing certain friends and begun meeting new friends – often older – who they refuse to bring home to meet you ?
When asked about hobbies or clubs which used to be important to them do they say things like “Oh I don’t like tennis, (or football, or youth club or swimming) – it’s boring . Do they instead want to go to pop and rock concerts or to pubs and clubs ..?
Do they come home very late or stay out all night ‘? Are they always at ‘parties’ .
Is your child less responsible, comes home from school late, forgets family occasions, ignores requests to help with chores, uses bad language, becomes argumentative and tells parents “don’t hassle me”…..?
Clothes, music, hair styles – do they now wear totally different clothes and hairstyles …listen to different music, become less interested in academic work and demand permission to stay out later and to have more ‘privacy’ ?
Is communication more difficult… does your child refuse to talk about new friends, go ‘out’ without saying where they are going; tend to defend the ‘recreational’ use or legalisation of drugs when the topic is discussed on TV or radio; declares teachers are unfair; defends the ‘rights’ of children and talk about the ‘bad habits’ of adults who use alcohol or smoke cigarettes ?
Physical changes has your child lost weight, changed sleep patterns – cannot sleep till early hours of morning, cannot wake up in the morning, increased appetite for sweet snacks, very thirsty, becomes very forgetful and seems to have lost all motivation for exams, or future careers ?
Choose your moment carefully before confronting your child with behaviour which you believe may indicate drug use. Do not be surprised if the child lies to you, They may say they have ‘tried’ drugs once but will not do so again. They may say that any drugs found in their room do not belong to them but to ‘a friend’. Parents must be resolute and ﬁrm.
Other tell-tale signs
Sometimes parents will notice things which on their own mean nothing – but the following things have all been recognised by parents whose child has subsequently been found to be using drugs.
Teenagers and the telephone usually mean long phone calls – does your child hang around the phone sometimes and pick it up as soon as it rings replies very brieﬂy and then leaves the house – returning after a short time. This can often be a dealer friend phoning to say that they are nearby with some drugs.
Do you often ﬁnd the windows open even on cold days ? Lots of air freshener being used ?
This can be to disguise the smell of cannabis being smoked in the room.
Does your child never seem to have money nowadays ? Do you notice that valuable things seem to be missing – cameras, jewellery etc. Drug users often sell items to buy drugs – at ﬁrst their own but later they may steal from the family.
Users do not speak of “using drugs” – they will say someone “does drugs” – watch for words like gear, deals, straight, clean, munchies, clucking, – and slang terms for drugs.
PREVENTION DOES WORK !
If you are worried that your child may be involved with drugs it is important not to ignore matters. Of course it is better to try to prevent use – and research has shown the following:
Parents who are too strict or too easy-going are more likely to have children who use drugs. Firm, fair and age-appropriate discipline is best.
Families should eat together and have regular family meetings’ where things like holidays, pocket- money, chores, curfew times are discussed. Each family member should be allowed to contribute and should be listened to.
Any infringement of agreed rules (such as home by ll.00 p.m.) should be dealt with in a consequential way. Punishments should be made to ﬁt the incident. From babyhood parents should agree together on standards of behaviour – if you say ‘no’ you must mean it !
Celebrate and praise ! Parents should have a simple rule of thumb – for each time you need to criticise you should subsequently praise at least twice for behaviour which you want repeated. Celebrate any small improvements and see the child blossom.
Always get to know the parents of your child s friends. Agree with them curfew times, who will take and collect from parties etc. Be sure to ask exactly where, when and with whom your children are going to be with and have phone numbers ‘in case of emergencies’.
Teach your children that they need to earn your trust be being trustworthy – they should do what they say they will do and what they need to do. Express disappointment for any actions that are unacceptable to your family.
Talk with, not at, your children. Listen to them and share with them. Tell them of your own childhood and adolescent years, express your hopes and fears for them. Hug them often and tell them you love them. Encourage your children to bring their friends home – make your home the one where they all want to congregate ! Have a ready supply of refreshments, videos and don’t forget good old fashioned games that the whole family can join in.
KNOW AT LEAST AS MUCH AS YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT DRUGS – DON’T BE AFRAID TO CONFRONT THEM IF YOU BELIEVE THEY ARE USING.