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Cindy Van Arnam

Owner/Operator, Focus On Great

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How do you prevent your teenager from being corrupted by substance abuse and addiction?

What things have you taught your children in avoiding substance abuse? How do you speak to your youth about the dangers of addiction? Are you honest with them, do you shelter them, or do you show them point blank what could happen if they fell into the trap?

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    Sep 26 2011: all i can say is do not let your children learn what drugs do from there friends.

    EROWID.ORG is a one stop source for such information
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    Sep 26 2011: One thing that is difficult to wrap your head around as a parent is the medium in which children get exposed to things. Often the medium peers use to expose others to things is live-action, so your presentation of why not shouldn't be anything less than live-action. Take some time to volunteer in a rehab center or expose your child to the realities in some way, you have to combat effective marketing with something more effective.
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    Sep 26 2011: i don't think you can "prevent", as erecting barriers. becoming addict is, i think, a form of escape. and if you have a life that is not something you want to escape, then there is no danger.

    so the question actually boils down to "how to give our kids a life that they want to live". at this point, i'd yield my time, because i don't know the answer.
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      Sep 26 2011: I have to agree. There are many substances both legal and illegal that are inherently dangerous and you should do your best to educate your children why not to do this. That said there are many more substances that can be dangerous if used improperly and it up to you to make sure your child is in a healthy so they can avoid developing an addictive personality and avoid substances that are inherently destructive.
  • Sep 26 2011: I would say first show by example (unless you are an addict or alcoholic). I think the lines of communication between parents and children need to be developed as the child develops so when the issues are difficult (substance abuse, child abuse, mental illness, criminal behaviors) the child will know he/she can get good guidance from the parents. This involves things like long-term mutual respect, trust, responsibility, consideration, love, and all things associated with good parenting. Prolonged sheltering leads to a traumatic transition when total freedom is first experienced (first year college antics for example). We taught them the dangers of various things, but what the do when they are with their friends is beyond our control at some point. However, if they have learned to make responsible decisions while at home, there is a good chance they will make them while away from home. If they have been consistently given responsibility and held accountable for actions at a level commensurate with their age, the transition to adult should just be an extension of childhood. So far this plan has worked.
  • Sep 28 2011: I think parents need to have honest, continous and fact based communication with their child since early age (adjusted relatively to the age). Parents should be ready and willing to discuss any topic with open mind.

    I also think that early on kids should be exposed to sports (esp. team based), arts, hobbies and other activities. It will keep them busy, but most importanly they will find new friends with good common interests, they will build their self-confidence and they will have healthy lifestyle/outlook. They will not need to prove themselves to their classmates or groups at school.

    Kids also greatly benefit from experiencing nature (hiking, snowshoeing, camping etc) to contrast it with the city life and to become more relaxed and see the beautty. Doing it together with family and friends create long lasting relationships and again builds confidence and positive outlook on life.

    Finally I would limit television as I see if full of shallow and atypical examples of human life esp. in "reality" shows? =)
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      Sep 28 2011: I completely agree with your concept that communication is most important... I think that sheltering only hurts teenagers and when they get dumped into reality they don't know what to do. Open communication and honesty up front makes all the different in the world. I know that if I had personally seen what hard drugs could do to a person I would have lived a different life.. I've lived the life I have for a reason - hopefully to teach others not to make the mistakes that I've made
      • Sep 28 2011: Thank you for sharing your experience and skills with others in order to help young kids and their parents to deal with addiction. This effort will not only help local families but also families in Mexico that have to deal with growing violence related to drug trade. cheers
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    Sep 27 2011: I have worked as a counselor for teenagers with drug addictions. Some came from the streets and others raised in a very healthy, loving enviroment. Im my experience I don't know of a clear cut way to prevent substance abuse altogether.I am no parent so I really don't know what I would do or how I would react if my child was abusing drugs. Although in most cases involving moderate to severe drug abuse there have been some major "root" issues wich I think ultimate lead up too using as an escape mechanism. Most commonly it was things such as abuse(physical/mental) or neglect,poor self image-self hatred things like that. I think my best shot for safegaurding my child as a parent will be to have a very loving, secure,open, honest relatonship .Really thats all I can do. 9 times out of 10 the heavy users wich come from a stable home enviroment had been overly sheltered and nutured wich eventually lead to what was at first a typical teenage rebellion thing and just spiraled out of control from there because the families really felt "out of control" and had never really established a clear and cohesive method of dialogue with their child. So the natural thing was to just turn a blind eye ,well, at least untill the signs were too obvious. I think the most important idea that I would like to instill in my child is that they are a "complete" being worthy of love and respect and a unique individual. And also things like creatiive expression and open communication-I will just try to keep hammering that in. Hopefully this will in some way be effective. I dont know though, I guess I'll have to see. :)
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      Sep 28 2011: I too do not have children... but I was one of those children who rebelled... I've seen what my Mom has gone through, and after being clean for 8 years - and the discussions that we've had... I feel that I understand more than anything; both the addicts point of view and the person in the background that cares' point of view. I learned the hard way - and I try to teach others that it doesn't have to be that hard (because it doesn't have to be); and I totally think it has everything to do with mindset. I can't help someone who doesn't want to quit drugs - but as soon as someone says 'I want to quit' or 'I want to make my life better' - that's where I step in and am capable of showing people how to move forward. Teenagers are the last ones to step forward - I know, I was there... But when they do - things change forever...
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        Sep 28 2011: @ Cindy- I was one of those children as well. It is very eye opening and humbling to me now when I talk to a 16yr and he reminds me of myself. I look back at my life and all the major ,stupid decisions I have made and a part of me wouldn't change it if I could. I think its awesome that your in a position to be truly empathetic with the people you work with. I think that so called "human suffering" as terrible as it is -eventually works towards the good of the collective in the end. I am thankful for that. And for people like you who take time to care. Thanks. :)
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      Sep 28 2011: Next to your good thoughts don't forget the schoolsystem.
      I have two out of four children that abused drugs. Both had problems with learning and fitting in with the general behavior among kids. Produced a lot of hardship and insecurity. For that reason we as parents sought out schools with special care for this kind of problems. Yet if they get older and are set free in a 'normal' school they can't cope.
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        Sep 28 2011: O man- I wrote the most winded repy to this ,ran out of characters and then to top it of my computer blinked out. I lost the whole thing.:) But to sum it up I really aagree with you and I think that the current reponse of the school system is pathetic. Instead of putting a timeline on education like some sort of conveyor belt, another alternative for education should be introduced. Hopefully, one that puts a heavy empahsis on cultivating creativity in each individual. I have found that some of the most "isolated" teenagers in whatever way-are also the most brilliantly creative. It is the relational quality of the school systems that suffer the worst. Kids get thrown to the wolves and then treated like little robots for the next 16 yrs. :) More time needs to be spent (imo) addressing the more pressing and important problems in the current school system.
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          Sep 28 2011: Pity. Yet the few times it happened to me I started all over with an even better result.

          I know all about the shadow side of schools.

          Maybe a new conversation on how we want our school system to be?
          Something is going on as "How to reform the school system?", but I think it best to know beforehand how we want it to be.