While parents may not like to hear the cold, hard truth about drugs and alcohol and their kids, the truth remains that they nonetheless try alcohol in high school and during college, even years before their 21st birthdays. According to research on the subject, about 80 percent of kids have already attempted to try alcohol while still in high school. The danger with experimentation is that it is neither legal nor safe for kids to attempt it, despite the fact that many still give in to temptation and bad judgment and try alcohol. The way to try to curb these worrying statistics and trends is by discussing alcohol and drug abuse with kids at quite an early age and continue talking to them about it as they grow up.
The best way to dissuade a group of people from doing anything is by informing them of the bad consequences of their actions and decisions. With regards to trying alcohol and drugs, elementary and middle school kids who try either are in great danger of having their perception of reality drastically altered to the point where making bad decisions is a guarantee. Having a distorted sense of reality is even more problematic for kids in elementary and middle school because, unlike adults, they have less life experience and so have less decision-making and problem-solving experience. The effects of trying and then abusing alcohol and drugs fall into two categories: short-term effects and also long-term effects. Short-term effects of alcohol and drug abuse include hangovers, smelly and unpleasant breath, impaired coordination and hearing, distorted emotions and feelings, and awful judgment that leads to worse problems like drug use, teen pregnancies, early sex, unsafe sex, drowning and motor vehicle accidents. Long-term effects of alcohol and drugs include cancer of the liver, cirrhosis, poor appetite, stomach afflictions, vitamin deficiencies, damage to the central nervous system and heart, loss of memory, an increased risk for sexual impotence, and a greater risk for overdosing.
Having a dialogue with elementary and middle school kids is an effective way for parents to preempt them from accepting alcohol or drugs when it is offered to them for the first time. Parents must encourage kids to ask them questions about alcohol and drugs because it is only natural for kids to be curious as they are growing up, and parents should not be afraid to field even the more uncomfortable questions. Parents should already begin having a dialogue with their kids about alcohol and drugs even if their kids are only 11 or so, which would put them in sixth grade. The reason is that kids in this age group are innately curious, so telling them about the horrible facts of alcohol and drug use and abuse will resound with them. When kids begin to enter the middle school age range, it is an ideal time for parents to reinforce what they have been telling them for years about the dangers of alcohol and drug use and abuse.
Just Saying “No”
While sometimes derided as too simple, the act of just saying, “No,” is one of the most effective ways to keep away from the bad effects of alcohol and drug use and abuse. Everyone has the freewill to exercise their right to reject something, and so it is with alcohol and drugs. Parents should teach their kids a variety of ways that they can exercise their freewill to just say, “No,” to alcohol and drugs. A variety of ways shows consideration to various social situations that kids will find themselves in.
The most direct reply of “No, thanks,” is always an effective response because it sets boundaries against the person offering the alcohol or the drug. Another way of saying, “No,” can even be nonverbal. For instance, if a situation gets too uncomfortable—a party is going on, and alcohol is being abused too excessively—elementary and middle school kids can just leave the location. They should have a smartphone with them or some change so they can get home by themselves, though. Other times, asking questions and the right questions can prove to be a big help in empowering kids to figure out if a situation is risky for them or not. For example, if they are offered a drink of any kind, they should immediately ask what it is and how the person giving them the drink got it.
Alcohol and drugs are a big problem for kids. The stats say that up to 80 percent of kids will have tried alcohol by the time they are in high school. Parents must be aggressive and proactive in discouraging their kids from trying alcohol and drugs. One of the best ways to do so is to start talking with kids at a young age about the perils of alcohol and drug use and abuse.
To learn more about kids and alcohol and drugs, see these links.