Like moths to a flame, teenagers are easily drawn in to the next cool thing. Whatever is trending, you can bet your kid knows a bit about it, probably more than you want him/her to.
Almost every single day I learn something new from my teenager. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. But there are important things I can teach him and NEED to make sure he understands, especially when it comes to drugs. One of those things is not; I repeat NOT, to assume that celebrity scandals and tragic stories dramatized on television or in the movies will teach your kid not to take that first hit.
I’m not going to quote statistics, share any personal experiences about my teenage years or tell you horror stories about my time working with teenagers who used drugs. Nope. I am going to tell you one thing that is super important and the one thing that you should know about how teenagers actually get into drugs in the first place.
The first one’s almost always free. The first hit, rock, line, bag, smoke, pill, shroom, etc.…. FREE.
The second, third, fourth and fifth might also be freebies, one never knows. It really depends on who is providing the drug and what their motive is behind sharing their stash.
But that first one, oh that one’s usually provided free of charge. On the house, kiddo.
Maybe the giver just wants a buddy to get high with?
Maybe the giver wants to add to their customer base?
Maybe your kid finds him/herself in the wrong place at just the right time, amidst a circle of friends or fellow partygoers?
No matter the circumstances, all you really need to know is that not only is that first feel good is almost always free of charge, it's also an easier high to get a hold of than a pack of cigarettes or a case of cheap beer. That first hit, the first high? Oh honey, that one’s free.
Parenting 101 dictates that we feed our kids a healthy breakfast and make sure they get enough sleep so they can start the new school year on the right foot. A new year brings so much promise! As parents, we all want our kids to remain healthy and happy, to grow taller and wiser, to be in a safe and comfortable learning environment where they can thrive.
For the most part, this is what happens. Sure, there are always going to be a few bumps along the way. Kids get sick and frustrated. They experience heartbreak and humiliation. When the hurt happens or problems arise, we talk about what’s going on, work through the challenges and hopefully the result is a child that truly does thrive.
However, when things don’t work out, because drugs have already become a problem, the idea of thriving takes a back seat to the desperate struggle to survive, and your story becomes something that could easily be shared as a cautionary tale. To someone else, it might just be a story, but the cost to you can’t be calculated. That is why I suggest you take advantage of your own opportunity for a freebie, a parental high – connecting with your teenager, even for a few moments, to talk to them about drugs.
Teenagers are famous for their brooding ways, their forced isolation, spending hours in their rooms, engrossed in whatever has their attention and focus. If you want to talk with them, you have a very small window of opportunity and interest before you lose them. Tweens and teens are all about the moment – the novelty, the to next cool trend.
Much like the first hit of a drug, the first hit you get with regard to talking to your kids about drugs can be absolutely free. It just might be the only freebie you get too! Sitting down together, having a dialogue about how the first one may be seem free, but eventually they will find the cost to be overwhelming, both physically, mentally and spiritually. But you’ll have to keep it short. After all, talking with your parents about drugs is not, and will never be a trending topic on Twitter. It’s not considered cool at all.
So use that freebie! Use it before the talk has already come with a cost – therapy, bail money, broken relationships, broken bodies, and broken spirits. Not having this talk could cost you the life of your child. There are no promises, of course. You can give a kid all the information and support in the world and they might not be able to resist that freebie. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of your freebie.
As a professional therapist, I can tell you that you won’t regret it, no matter what the future brings. A short, supportive, dialogue with your kid costs you nothing, yet buys you so much. I’m going to assume that the last place you want to be with your kid this year is in the office of a therapist, talking about the agony of addiction and the brokenness that accompanies it.
Consider this post a freebie. This high you get from knowing that you can increase the chances that your kid’s potential to thrive increases with every conversation and connection you make with him/her? Feels good, doesn’t it? There really isn’t anything in the world like it. You can trust me, I'm a professional.
And this one’s on me.