While it’s true that making your anti-drug stance clear to your teenage son is a positive step that can help him to make good choices, it’s also true that sharing your personal drug use and abuse stories may not have the effect that you want, according to a new study published in the journal Human Communication Research. According to the study, kids were less likely to take a positive stance on the use of drugs and alcohol if their parents kept their own use of illicit substances to themselves.
About 250 Hispanic children and 300 Caucasian children enrolled in grades 6 through 8 took part in the study and shared the discussions they had had with their parents about the use of different substances of abuse. The participants reported that their parents’ stories of regretted drug abuse did little to stop them from trying drugs and alcohol.
Researchers believe that though these stories are intended as a warning, many kids may take the fact that their parents are doing well now despite early drug use to mean that they can get away with using drugs or alcohol with little risk. Researchers suggest that parents avoid the topic altogether based on the study’s results.
Talking to Your Son About Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Talking to your kids about avoiding drugs and alcohol is highly recommended. The study suggested that parents avoid personal use experiences when talking to kids about drug abuse and instead focus on:
- The dangers associated with drug and alcohol abuse (e.g., health problems, accidents)
- Stories of others who have been harmed by use of drugs and alcohol
- Their disapproval of drug and alcohol use
- A respect for laws and responsible drinking (e.g., one or two drinks only) after the age of 21
- Family rules about drug and alcohol abuse
Jennifer Kam is a co-author of the study. In a journal news release, she said, “Parents may want to reconsider whether they should talk to their kids about times when they used substances in the past and not volunteer such information.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers a number of helpful hints on how best to help children avoid teen drug and alcohol abuse.
Treatment Is Always an Option
If your son is struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, parents can turn to teen treatment programs for assistance. At Muir Wood, we offer an intensive, experiential rehabilitation experience for teen boys. Call now for more information.