The conversation: When, how to talk with kids about heroin, other drugs
For parents, it’s never too early to begin talking with children about heroin and other drugs. Explore when and how to have these conversations in this video Q&A with Shane Watson, a recovering addict and communications director for notMYkid, and Leslie Bloom, CEO of DrugFreeAZKids.org.
Warning signs of drug use
Change in physical appearance and poor hygiene
Smelling of smoke, alcohol or other substances
Becoming moody or emotionally unstable
Changes in sleeping habits
Changes in eating habits
Changes in behavior or rebelling to an unusual degree
Changes in peer group
A drop in grades or not doing schoolwork
Physical symptoms such as an unusual degree of fatigue or dilated or constricted pupils
A reluctance to spend time with family
Q: How should parents talk with kids about drugs?
It may be a nerve-racking conversation, but Shane Watson of NotMYkid says it’s important to communicate with children and to be honest with them from the start. He says that some parents resist having the conversation because they don’t think drug addiction can happen to their children.
What’s the next step?
Q: At what age should parents begin talking with kids about drugs?
Shane Watson of notMYkid and Leslie Bloom of DrugFreeAZKids.org encourage parents to start talking with children as early as preschool. Both say children can understand basic concepts from a young age. As children get older the conversations can be more specific and detailed.
Q: What else should parents know before talking with kids about drugs?
Shane Watson of notMYkid encourages parents to listen to their children before accusing them of doing drugs. He says that when parents listen they earn trust, which can create more open and honest conversations. Parents also should assess their own use of alcohol and drugs.
Q. What are good ways to begin conversations about drugs?
Shane Watson of notMYkid and Leslie Bloom of DrugFreeAZKids.org encourage parents to relate conversations about drugs to things going on in the news and with celebrities. They say kids will be more receptive to that and will engage more.
Q. What should I do if I suspect my child is using drugs?
Shane Watson of notMYkid and Leslie Bloom of DrugFreeAZKids.org encourage parents to calmly confront kids about drugs, especially if a child comes home smelling of marijuana, alcohol or other substances. Bloom says that if parents suspect their child is using, he or she probably is. However, she says, it’s never too late to help.
Q. Where can parents go for help?
DrugFreeAZKids.org and notMYkid direct families struggling with drug addiction to groups and resources offering help. notMYkid provides a prevention packet along with free drug tests.