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Out of all of the scary parenting issues we face, this is amongst the most scary because it can end a life very prematurely. Adolescents can feel immortal during their teen years. I certainly did. They don't really realize the consequences of putting these substances in their bodies. So, I asked myself “why” this is. I mean, they are told over and over again that drugs are bad, they can get addicted, and even that they can die. Yet, more kids are doing drugs nowadays than ever before. Why?

I realized that the problem may very well be that they are told how awful drugs are by adults (parents, teachers, DARE, the police force). But, like most teens, they want to experiment anyway. So, they do. And................nothing happens! In fact, most likely, they have a great time. So we, as parents, lose credibility as a result. We told them that they are bad and they found out differently, in the short run anyway.

So, I thought to myself that I had to change my tactic. I was up front with my kids because they asked, “If they are bad for you, why do people do them?” A great question. My response was that the euphoric feeling is the bait. It is meant to hook you in so you keep using it. People never know when something negative is going to happen from using substances. But, if they are used often enough, it will happen. The idea is to be aware that if they use drugs, it will feel great at first. Thus, it is likely they will try it again. But, they will have to be aware, careful, and safe going forward. This is where we come in.

I have argued that parents start talking about drugs with their kids as early as age 6. These discussions don't have to get graphic, but it can start a dialogue with them WHILE THEY ARE STILL LISTENING! If you wait until they are age 14 or later, they already know more than you do. You can simply ask what they do and don't know about different drugs and if they know anyone using them. Assure them that they will not get in trouble and you will keep anything they say to yourself. This is important in an effort to get as much information as possible so let them do the talking!

I hope that this article is helpful to you. Please feel free to offer feedback as I find it important to keep sharing ideas even if they disagree with mine. Thank you.

Michael J Pollak, PCC, LICDC

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The Behavioral Wellness Group is a counseling center providing therapy and behavioral health services and assessment including chemical dependency/drug addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and other therapies. We also provide mental health or psychological assessments, and psychological,educational and bariatric testing. Providing services to the following communities in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake County: Cleveland, Ashtabula, Beachwood, Chardon, Concord, Eastlake, Euclid, Fairport, Geneva, Grand River, Highland Heights, Kirtland, Leroy, Lyndhurst, Madison, Mayfield, Mayfield Heights, Painesville, Pepper Pike, Perry, Russell, Solon, South Euclid, Thompson, Wickliffe, Willoughby, Willoughby Hills, and Willowick, from our offices in Mentor, Ohio.