Preventing use of Marijuana and other Drugs


The use of marijuana and other illegal drugs is on the decline in Martin County.  However, these drugs are still available to local youth. All of us need to work harder to reduce the use of illegal substances among children and teens.


What can we do as role models?


Talk about the Risks of Drugs

In conversations with teens, steer the subject to drugs and why they're harmful.


If you can ingrain this information in your children well before they are faced with making difficult choices, experts say they'll be more likely to avoid rather than use.


You don't need to fear that by introducing the topic of drugs.  You are letting them know about potential dangers in their environment so that when they're confronted with them, they'll know what to do.


If you hear something you don't like (perhaps a friend smokes marijuana or your teen confesses to trying pills at a party), it is important not to react in any way that cuts off further discussion.


Discuss whether the risks are worth what people may get out of using them and whether it would be worth it to take the risks. Even without addiction, experimentation is too great a gamble. One bad experience, such as being high and misjudging how long it takes to cross a busy street, can change or end a life forever. If something interrupts your conversation, pick it up the next chance you get.



Use Teachable Moments

Any moment can be a teachable moment. When you decide to use a moment to teach your teen something about drugs, it doesn’t have to be a long, serious talk — just a few words can do. And it’s not a talk you have to have only once. You can regularly discuss the issue. Teachable moments can include conversations about books, movies, or news reports. 



Learn to Listen

Just talking to your child is only half the job. You can keep the lines of communication open by knowing how to listen and when to talk. Your teen will tell you about the sights and sounds that influence him or her every day. They are the experts about fashion, music, TV, and movies that people their age follow.


Ask your teen what music groups are popular and what their songs are about, what his friends like to do after school, what’s cool and what’s not and why. Encourage your teen with phrases such as: “That’s interesting” or “I didn’t know that” and by asking follow-up questions.


Driving your child’s carpool is another great opportunity to listen.  In this situation, children and teens frequently let their guard down as they gossip with their peers.  If you listen carefully, you will pick up on things that you can discuss privately with your teen at a later time.



Conversations for Critical Times

 The situation becomes more critical if you suspect that your teen is already using alcohol or drugs. What do you say to them? The conversation is the same: parents need to tell their kids that drug and alcohol use by teens is not allowed in your family. The issue won't go away until you do something. You will simply have to acknowledge that your teen has a problem — your teen is using drugs and that won't get any better until you take action on your teen's behalf. It is OK to ask for help. In fact, getting help may make it easier for you to have the conversation.


Practice the conversation ahead of time. You may have to have a couple of “practice runs.” These conversations are not easy but they are worthwhile. Talking it over with your spouse/partner beforehand will help you keep a level head and speak to the issue.


Anger and hostility won't get you anywhere in this conversation. Stay as calm as possible. Remember, you are the parent and you are in charge. Be kind, simple, and direct in your statements to your teen. Above all, remember to tell your teen that you love him or her! The conversation will not be perfect — no conversation ever is. Know that you are doing the right thing for your teen. That's what matters most!


Additional Resources:


National Institute on Drug Abuse


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration


Parents: The Anti-Drug