Tell your children that you love them and you want them to be happy and healthy. Say that you do not find alcohol and other illegal drug use acceptable. Many parents fail to state this simple fact. Explain that drug use hurts people. It can cause AIDS, impaired coordination, slowed growth, and emotional harm such as feelings of isolation or paranoia. It is also important to discuss the legal issues associated with drug and alcohol use because a conviction for a drug offense can lead to prison, loss of a job or college loan. Talk about positive, drug-free alternatives and explore them together. Some possibilities may include sports, reading, movies, bike rides, hikes, camping and games.
Approach your children calmly and openly and do not exaggerate. Talk face to face. Try to understand each other's point of view. Be an active listener and let your child talk about fears and concerns while not interrupting or preaching. Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time speech. It is also important that you set an example and avoid contradictions between your words and actions. To help your child deal with peer pressure, act out various situations in which one tries to convince the other to take drugs and come up with at least two ways to handle each situation.
As parents, be alert to changes in your child's mood. Drug use may cause your child to become more irritable, secretive, withdrawn, overly sensitive, or inappropriately angry. In addition, your child may become less responsible by not going to school or coming home late. Watch for changes in friends or lifestyles. Physically, drugs may cause your child to concentrate less, lose coordination, weight and create an unhealthy appearance.