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The Importance of Talking to Kids About Drugs



When I was a kid, the word “drugs” conjured up images of sad people in dark rooms. Now that I have kids of my own, it’s become clear that drugs aren’t just for sad people: they’re everywhere. 

And because my kids are going to be exposed to drugs sooner or later (if not already), they need to know what these substances are and what they do

—so that when and if they decide to use them, they will be as informed as possible about both their potential benefits and consequences.


Table of Contents

1. Be Honest and Age Appropriate

The first thing you should do is talk to your children about drugs, but there are some guidelines on how to do this. 

The conversation can’t be too serious or too juvenile; if it’s overly mature for their age, they might become scared or confused. 

On the other hand, if they’re too young and the conversation doesn’t involve any real-world examples of drug use (such as what happens when someone smokes marijuana), then they may not understand why this topic is so important at all.

For example: If your eight-year-old sees a friend using drugs at school and asks you why they do it, don’t say “because he has no self-control over his body”. 

That won’t help him understand that drugs are dangerous; instead try something like “when people take drugs into their bodies without knowing what’s in them, bad things happen.”


2. Discuss the Risks of Drugs and Alcohol

It’s important to discuss the risks of drugs and alcohol with your child. These include:

  • Health problems. Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can cause serious health problems. This includes addiction, which is a disease that affects the brain. An addict needs more and more of the drug to feel good or normal—even if it’s making them sick or hurting their relationships with people they care about.
  • Danger. Drugs are dangerous when used in high doses or by people who haven’t built up a resistance to them (like kids). They can also cause overdose deaths when combined with other substances such as alcohol; prescription painkillers; heroin; cocaine; methamphetamines; ecstasy/MDMA or PCP (“angel dust”). Some illegal street drugs have been found laced with poisons such as rat poison—which can kill you even if you take just one dose!


3. Listen to Your Kids

As your child grows, you’ll have more opportunities to listen to them. Try not to let them be in charge of the conversation, but do allow them to talk about whatever is on their mind. 

This can be difficult for parents who have been socialized into believing that their job as a parent is to give advice and solve problems. 

But if you want your kids to open up and feel comfortable talking with you about drugs, it’s important not only that they feel safe talking with you but also that they know they can trust what they say will remain confidential between the two of you. 

The more an adolescent trusts his or her parents, the more likely he or she will be able to share information with them

—even if it’s potentially embarrassing or difficult for him/her at first!

Try using these questions as starters:

  • What are some things I don’t know about what’s going on at school?
  • What’s something new I could try in my free time?
  • What do I need help understanding?


4. Learn About What Drugs Are Available

As a parent, you want to be prepared for the day your child comes home and tells you they’ve tried drugs or are experimenting with them. 

You must know what drugs are available so that when this happens, you can do more than just react in shock or horror.

Knowing what drugs are popular among your kids is also essential because it allows you to understand why they might be taking them. 

If they’re going out of their way to try something new because all their friends are doing it—even if only one friend—it’s time for an intervention!


5. Discuss the Consequences of Drug Abuse

- Explain how drugs affect the brain.

The brain is a complex and delicate organ, and drug abuse can have serious consequences for it. 

Drugs like alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine all cause changes in the way certain chemicals in the brain are released and received. 

These changes can lead to problems with thinking, memory, or behavior—including addiction.


- Talk about what happens to your body when you use drugs

Drugs alter chemical levels in your body and disrupt the normal functions of organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys

—and they do this over time if they’re taken regularly. 

For example, smoking marijuana regularly causes chronic bronchitis (an inflammation of the airways) because it irritates them; 

if someone gets addicted to cocaine their heart may beat faster than usual; heavy alcohol use can damage the liver or pancreas; 

heroin leads to constipation because it slows down digestion; methamphetamines cause users’ bodies to lose water weight quickly due to sweating and dehydration but also contribute greatly towards tooth decay due to dry mouth syndrome which causes a lack of saliva production causing cracked lips leading back into another reason why people might turn into addicts is that they become depressed when they’re sober after being high on methamphetamines.


6. Encourage Open Communication

Encourage open communication with your kids and let them know that they can come to you with questions, even if they’re uncomfortable. 

If you don’t know the answer, don’t pretend that you do. Let them know that it’s okay for them not to have all of the answers immediately

—and encourage them to seek out other sources for answers. 

Encouraging open communication between parents and children is one of the most important things parents can do when it comes to the topic of drugs because it helps keep lines of communication open throughout their lives.

When we encourage our kids to ask questions, we are showing them that we value their opinion and want their input on important topics such as drugs and alcohol use. 

When our children see us taking an interest in what they think about certain situations or experiences, they will be more likely to talk openly with us when they encounter challenging situations later in life (like drug use).


7. Set a Good Example for Your Kids

It’s important to remember that your children are watching you, and they’re learning from everything you do. 

If you’re not a drug user yourself, it’s even more crucial for them to see that you don’t approve of drugs or the people who use them. 

You should be open to discussing the topic of drugs with your kids rather than avoiding it entirely.

If one of your friends has recently started using drugs, don’t avoid bringing up their behavior around your children. 

The best way to teach them about drugs is by being honest about your own experiences and mistakes with them in a nonjudgmental way

—and if others have made mistakes as well (or even done something illegal), explain how this happened without judging them too harshly; this will help make sure they feel safe approaching you when they need help with anything relating to drugs in future years.


8. Know the Signs of Drug Abuse

  • If you’re worried that your child is using drugs, pay attention to their behavior.
  • Notice if they have a change in mood or attitude, especially if it’s sudden. They may become angry and depressed, or anxious and withdrawn. It’s important to keep in mind that your child’s emotions are not necessarily related to drug use; however, if you notice several changes in behavior over a short period—especially contrasting ones—it might be worth investigating further.
  • Be aware of changes in physical appearance (pigmentation around the nose, dark circles under the eyes). These could indicate that he/she has been taking something like cocaine or heroin (which are both injected into the bloodstream). Also, watch out for red eyes from smoking marijuana; this can sometimes make it hard for kids to stay awake at school when they’ve had only a few hours of sleep!


Recap: Having open and honest conversations with your kids about drugs can prevent teenagers from making bad decisions

Talking with your kids about drugs is important because it can help them avoid making bad decisions in the future. 

Kids need to know what types of drugs are available and what the consequences of drug abuse are—both short-term and long-term. 

You should also talk about how offering or providing drugs to someone else could affect their lives, as well as yours. 

Lastly, make sure you tell your children that even if they think they’re invincible or that nothing bad will ever happen to them when they use drugs, it’s not true!



Talking to your kids about drugs is an important step in preventing them from using illegal substances. 

If you’re worried about drug abuse, keep the lines of communication open and be honest about your own experiences with drugs and alcohol. 

Learn what drugs are available in your community so that you can discuss with your children how they might come across these substances or be affected by them. 

Finally, teach them the signs of drug abuse so they know when they need help! Hope the content of this article was helpful enough to help guide your children on the dangers of drug use. 


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