“Scare the crap out of them” to keep teens away from drugs
The photo at right gives me the chills. I can only imagine the pain and helplessness of being the parent of a teen who abuses drugs & liquor.
Rule 1. Make family dinner non-negotiable. Everyone must show up and make pleasant conversation at family dinner most nights of the week. Research done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse at Columbia University proves that teens who have family dinner five time a week or more are less likely to use marijuana and tobacco, drink alcohol and get drunk.
Tweens and teens will complain and resist. Too bad. Use the double E’s — encouragement and expectation. “I know you can arrange your schedule to be home for dinner. I expect you to be there.”
Rule 2. Educate them and yourself by “scaring the crap out of you.” When I asked my fourth “child,” (now 22) “Why didn’t you do drugs in high school?” She said “The movie, Requiem for a Dream scared the crap out of me.” I rented the movie and it scared the crap out of me, too. It brilliantly portrays a mother addicted to diet pills and young people and dealers hooked on heroin. The movie Trainspotting will also scare the crap out of you. Good! Fear and desire motivate us.
When I stumbled upon the book, “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey, the nearly-true story of his drug addiction and recovery, the whole family (then ages 15-22) read the book within a few week. It’s a good story because the reader never knows what’s going to happen next. Whether the story is true or exaggerated, it “scared the crap out of me” about drug use and addiction.
Rule 3. Do not condone drug/alcohol abuse either directly or with subtle hints, like “Boys will be boys,” or “Stay out of trouble tonight, honey, wink-wink.” These double messages confuse teens. Avoid sarcasm when talking about substance abuse. Ask and confirm their whereabouts through spot checks, “Where are you going? Will there be adult supervision? Who is driving? When will you be home?”
Always give them these escapes: “If you ever find yourself in a difficult or dangerous situation, use me as the fall guy. Say, ‘I have to get home right now or my mom will kill me.’ Know that you can call me anytime from anywhere and I’ll come and get you, no questions asked, no punishment.”
And live up to the promise.
External resource for drug addiction help: http://www.withdrawal.net/learn/withdrawal-treatment/
Next: Part 3 on how to encourage good decision-making to keep them off drugs: the college yearsdrugs and alcohol, family dinner, Make good decisions, prepare, teenagers, tweens