Parenting teens: Other drugs

Parenting teens: Other drugs

Look for opportunities to talk about drugs with your teenager. Talk with your teens about ways they can so no to alcohol or other drugs, without them losing face with their friends. Be informed about drugs.

Key points to remember

  • look for opportunities to talk about drugs
  • a useful time to talk about drugs with older kids is when they begin to ask questions or make comments about them - TV, movies, magazines, newspapers – these all provide a starting point for discussion 
  • talk with your teens about ways they can so no to alcohol or other drugs, without them losing face with their friends
  • be informed about drugs

Strategy: Look for opportunities to talk about drugs

From an early age, we are given medicine (drugs) to ease the pains of colds, the flu and other childhood illnesses. We usually trust what we are given and believe that it will make us feel better. Using a drug to solve a problem becomes second nature. However, all drugs have a degree of risk connected with their use, and we need to make that very clear to our kids.

Younger children should never take any medicine without an adult knowing. They should understand that they might get hurt or become even sicker if they have too much. If we can help younger children to understand the risks from drugs – such as aspirin or antibiotics – then we are in a better position to discuss issues about alcohol and other types of drugs in their teenage years. Try to use opportunities like these to talk with your kids about the drugs you are giving them and why they should always be careful no matter what type of drug they are taking.

A useful time to talk about drugs with older kids is when they begin to ask questions or make comments about them. TV, movies, magazines, newspapers – these all provide a starting point for discussion. So is the time when they have to be given medications for illness. Whether the drugs are medicinal, legal or illegal, our children should be aware of the risks associated with their use. Get them to read the labels and read out the side effects if listed. From this – you can discuss the fact that some drugs can cause different reactions and that is why it is important to take care even when taking medicines. Make sure they understand that as with many things, a little might be good but more is not always better – and in fact could be dangerous!

Ways to help your teens with peer pressure over alcohol or other drugs

Photo of mother and teenage daughter talking. Written words across photo: "We told our daughter that she wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol or use drugs in our home with her friends. The only time she is allowed to drink at home is during a family meal or a celebration and then we as her parents decide how much is safe for her to have. Then we talked about the ways she could respond to her friends if they brought drugs or alcohol in to our house"Talk with your teens about ways they can so no to alcohol or other drugs, without them losing face with their friends.

Suggest some ways for them to say no like: -

  • "no ... I’m in training for my team"
  • "no ... I have a big exam tomorrow"
  • "no ... it makes me feel sick"
  • "no ... I’m allergic to it"
  • "no ... I’m happy enough without it"
  • "no ... I have to be up early in the morning"
  • "no ... not my scene"
  • "no thanks"

Also discuss strategies for when their friends want to bring alcohol or other drugs in to your home. Make clear rules about this and explain your reasoning.

"We told our daughter that she wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol or use drugs in our home with her friends. The only time she is allowed to drink at home is during a family meal or a celebration and then we as her parents decide how much is safe for her to have. Then we talked about the ways she could respond to her friends if they brought drugs or alcohol in to our house".

Strategy: Be informed about drugs

Encourage your kids to talk with you if someone is pressuring them to take drugs or alcohol. Be pleased that they want to talk with you and avoid getting angry or growling at them.

For some families, knowledge of drugs is second nature. Young people have seen their parents smoking drugs or taking pills – and sometimes this has happened for generations. But for many families, newer drugs such as “party pills” and “herbal highs” are something that they don’t know a lot about.

The internet can be a good source of information about drugs with many websites providing accurate information about the effects of various substances. The New Zealand Drug Foundation has a good home page where you might start to find out more …..

www.drugfoundation.org.nz

You can also phone the free Alcohol Drug Helpline Ph 0800-787-797 for advice.

Take the opportunity to talk with other parents and share what each of you knows. Being aware of what other families are facing can be supportive when dealing with drug and alcohol issues.

Remember to keep your own prescription medicines in safe places where young people can’t get them. Abuse of prescription drugs by young people has become common overseas. If you no longer need the drugs – return them to your local pharmacy – or dispose of them safely (like flush them down the toilet).

The content above is based on pages 36-46 below (PDF, 1.06MB) from the Whānau pack: Tools for families and parents with teenagers.

Image of pages from "Whanau pack" booklet

References

See the full list of references for 'Whānau pack: Tools for families and parents with teenagers'

Acknowledgement and copyright notice

The Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation are very grateful to Northland District Health Board (NDHB) for permission to reproduce this content from the Whānau pack: Tools for families and parents with teenagers (PDF, 4.16MB). NDHB own the copyright in this material and it must not be copied or reproduced except as expressly permitted by NDHB. 

Image of the cover of "Whanau pack" booklet

This page last reviewed 27 February 2015.
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