At this age it is very likely that your kids have already been offered some sort of drugs whether it is cigarettes, alcohol, pot, or even something harder. Your teenager may or may not be willing to discuss drugs with you but if you’ve already laid the groundwork you are more likely to have an open line of conversation with them.
One of the keys to conversing with your teen about a delicate issue like drugs is keep it short and sweet. Anything that lasts longer than five minutes is likely to be considered a lecture! Little at a time, talk about the real ramifications of drugs and how it can affect their life not only in the future but NOW! At this age kids are more focused on the now than anything else so that may be what makes them think the most.
You may want to think about putting together a teen/parent contract at this point. Make it absolutely clear what you expect of them, what the consequences are if they break the contract, and what your role is. Outline specific situations and make it clear to them that if they follow the guidelines of the contract you’ll be there for them, even if it means picking them up from a party in the middle of the night if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.
By discussing the possibilities with your teens from the start you will have a much better chance at keeping them safe.
Some topics you’ll want to bring up (if they don’t do it first):
- Legal issues – jail/youth center time and fines. Also talk about the limits that it will put on their life should they have to spend time in a youth center or are charged.
- Driving – make it clear that they will not be allowed to drive if you suspect that drugs have become a part of their life
- Appearance – kids are very concerned with appearance so stress the smell and how they look as well as other consequences of doing drugs (track lines, sores, etc)
- Death – make it clear that death is not some rare consequence. Give them articles from the newspaper; send them links to news online. Make them see that kids are dying as a result of drugs.
Above all, don’t wait for it to become an issue. Talk to them and open up the lines of communication before you suspect that drugs may have become part of their lives!