What do you wish you had said to your child about drugs?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by pigless in VA, Feb 15, 2016.

  1. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    As of this moment, neither of my children has a drug issue.

    However, since both my late husband and his brother were drug addicts, I have always known that this could be a serious issue for my kids. My husband's family has many people who struggle with addiction issues.

    My kids know that their grandmother is an alcoholic. They know a few of the cousins are alcoholics. They don't know about all the other chemical experimentation that went on in the family.

    I am slowly telling them stories about the people that I've known who struggled with drug issues. I feel like the best way for me to help them is to educate them.

    So if you could go back in time and say something to your child when he or she was younger about drug addiction, what would you say?
  2. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Well-Known Member

    I honestly don't think there is anything that I didn't say. None of it made any difference at all...I always thought there was one thing I could say that would make a difference with her, but there wasn't...
  3. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    That's pretty much what I thought, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

    Both my husband and my brother in law were into serious drug and alcohol issues by the time they were young teenagers. I feel fortunate that Ferb has made better choices than they did. But he does not understand that the gaming addiction is just as serious.
  4. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    My Difficult Child knew all about drugs and we had all the talks. In fact when he was young I smoked cigarettes and only a few a day. I tried to hide it from him and he always smelled it. He would cry and carry on and I finally quit - for HIM mainly because he would get SO upset.

    Little did I know that he would make me cry a million tears for all the poor choices he has made. I do remind him of that little boy that didn't want his momma to smoke but it doesn't seem to register with him. All I can hope is with maturity he'll eventually realize that the little boy in him was right all along.
  5. UpandDown

    UpandDown Active Member

    Interesting question for sure. My difficult child uses marijuana to medicate. I wonder all the time if I could have said something different when he was younger. Yet, he was very anti-drug and anti smoking up until he himself started. I do wish I had not overreacted when I found out. That I can say with certainty. I was so upset and shocked when I found out and I punished him and tried to scare the daylights out of him. Now I know that didn't help at all. I now know that he was struggling desperately and that weed made him feel good. I wish I would have used that opportunity to listen and try and understand what was going on.
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  6. detachingmother

    detachingmother serenity

    With oldest son, I was very very strict--on the authoritarian and dictatorial plane. It didn't work. That was failure without a doubt. He had been kicked out for bringing marijuana in the house after being forewarned many times over. I had two younger ones at the time. I don;t know the whole approach may have something to do with what went wrong.

    Middle child, I never had to say much to her. She just doesn't get into any drugs. She didn't even seem curious about it. She tried drinking Vodka once, threw up and that was the end of it.

    Youngest son, almost 18 now and a senior in high school. I thought since being very authoritative and almost dictatorial with oldest didn't work at all, I thought I would try a different approach. Almost a Person Centered, Gentle Teaching Approach.

    With youngest I knew he was going to be faced with lots of drugs around his peers. I took more of an educator role and a softer approach I always told him if he tried anything like marijuana, to be very careful with the fact that even things he thinks are not that bad, could hurt him very badly. Taught him all about how people could "lace" it with more harmful substances, etc.

    I taught him all about all the drugs and what it could lead to as far as ruining his future/messing the whole family's lives up/etc. Told him I am always here if he has any questions.

    Most of all, told him I know the chances of his peers pressuring him into trying these things were high...I know he may even feel like he has to try these things to "fit in", and that if he ever needed an "out", to call and have me come pick him up with a "made up" excuse (before he drove). Also asked him to call me, I would not be upset if he needed a ride for "drinking" or something. He always knows I am a phone call away.

    Equally important was to teach him that if he does try marijuana, to do it in "moderation", drinking too. Everything in "moderation". Of course I don't mean hard drugs. I don't like marijuana either personally, but kids try it...they undoubtedly will experiment, most of them. I know I did. I also openly talked to him about "acid", hallucinogenics, etc. Told him stories of people I knew when I was younger who had ODd and/or lost their minds forever.

    I just always had an open dialogue with him about all of it. Without judging would and still will listen to whatever he wants to talk about.

    I read a book awhile back on communicating with teens and I learned this way in that book...wish I could remember the book.

    The softer approach seems to have worked with him. Then again, he also saw the different approach with older Son, I don't know.

    Hard to say, but one other thing I did right by him, is that whatever other extra curricular activities he was interested in, I was on board with, no matter how much I wanted him to play soccer, so I could be a soccer mom, I just let him choose what he was interested in (acting, higher achievement learning classes, gymnastics, mensa, theater), I let him do it. I learned that as long as he was doing things he loves, he didn't have time to do the "bad" stuff.

    With older son, I almost didn't listen well enough. I know this. I wasn't the mom to him I am to the younger ones. Sad, but I was just so busy, he almost went unheard often. We did karate together and I had to quit. He wanted to be at Boy Scouts, but I could not let him often, because I had to work so much...

    I think it's not so much about what we talk to them about about drugs, it's how we listen to them and push them into things they like or are interested in....
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Yes. Even if it means they are switching interests every other year. Some kids do this as a way of finding themselves. Any positive outlet is a good thing. I got lucky - my kid's major activity happens to be the "one" activity that I can whole-heartedly say I enjoy supporting... and it means long hours every single week and a lot more for competition. But... being involved at that level gave my kid an "out" - can't smoke, I'm preparing for competition, can't do drugs, we get drug tested, yada yada... the pressure goes down, because you simply have different interests.

    However... some teams and other pursuits, have a built in problem with drugs and/or alcohol. So it depends on the kid, and the activity.
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  8. detachingmother

    detachingmother serenity

    Yep. Hindsight kills me. I wish I knew then what I know now. Not that I am beating myself up over it anymore, as I feel I had no choice when oldest was younger. I, like many moms, was on my own, zero support, had to work sometimes two three jobs, with one job just to cover daycare. I was also only 20 myself when I gave birth to him and had no clue what I was doing...just trying to survive. In many ways, oldest Son did get the short end of the stick, when he really needed me there at home with him ALL the time. I've more than "made up for it," it many other ways I feel. When he's sober he acknowledges this and tells me this, but I know he still has resentment.

    Hindsight, I would have made every effort, every sacrifice just to get him to the things he was interested in....Makes a major difference in kids lives.

    So for those mom's who are wondering how important these things are...the answer is VERY IMPORTANT. anyway....

    The "outs" for kids are so important.

    Youngest does nothing to hurt his chances of succeeding. He does it on his own, because he learned self discipline by doing these things he loves. He does not watch TV, he doesn't have facebook, he took the big screen TV and PS4 his big "bad boy" brother gave him and put it in another room, so he won't even be tempted. He could even appear "addicted", but it's to the things that matter to him and are healthy for him, and these things keep him out of trouble. :)

    Oh yes, I am worried somewhat that where youngest is going after high school will give him many other challenges...there's tons of drug addicted young people in the city he is planning on going to, and the pressure and competition is incredible .... an infestation as a matter of fact. :-( but, he will be going with the tools he needs to succeed. Will be up to him then...only I feel like he will be fine.

    Oh and I should have added but it should go without saying that we have to lead by example...I could talk all day until I'm blue in the face, but if I did was I was talking against...ugh...that would obviously be bad.
  9. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    I've got that one covered now, at least, DM.

    I have the same kinds of conversations with Ferb that you have had with your youngest. Both kids know that their father's marijuana use knocked his mind out of the ballpark. I plan to have more conversations about his other drug use. These are the conversations that my husband was supposed to be having with them, and it makes me super angry that I'm the one left taking charge of it. Sadly, he and his brother are probably the best at being the ultimate bad examples for the kids. Two serious addicts, two suicides.

    I've had that conversation about the drinking, but I didn't think to say it about other drug use. Excellent idea.

    I told Ferb about the time I went to a frat party sober. That was a huge learning experience for me.

    Insane, I wish Ferb had an interest. He lackadaisically plays guitar. His whole being is wrapped up in gaming which is just as addicting as any drug. At present, he is not gaming and the X-box is unavailable. He is working with a counselor, but Ferb wants that game system back. School and work are his life right now.

    That's where I've made my biggest mistake. I allowed Ferb to begin gaming at too young an age. I allowed him to spend the majority of his time on gaming. If I had pushed him to compete in a sport, maybe he would have another, healthier interest. I didn't have time to worry about what was happening to my son when my husband went crazy. All my focus was on getting my husband help.
  10. UpandDown

    UpandDown Active Member

    From that I have learned through some of the parent therapy we have attended in our son's treatment is that gaming is one way that kids/teens escape. When I think back to when my son's life really began to unravel it was with xbox. It was a full blown addiction. He played online with his peers and because he was an excellent gamer, he got all kinds of positive social rewards. We would set up limits and he found a way around them. He would get up in the night and play when we were asleep. We would up the ante and he was right there ready to outsmart us. He changed the passwords, you name it. It was a game of cat and mouse. Eventually we just took it away. Got it completely out of the house and impossible to get back. It makes me feel sick to think about it. Because the biggest mistake we made was underestimating just how much he used that to cope. Albeit not a healthy coping, it was an escape. So in a matter of seconds we left him with nothing to deal with all that he had swirling in his head. And then he moved on to much worse ways of dealing with his pain. If only we knew.
  11. detachingmother

    detachingmother serenity

    Pigless---Maybe try pushing the guitar. I used to take youngest to soccer field, and tried relentlessly to get him to play. I couldn't even get him out of the car. So stubborn. He literally screamed and cried at age 6 or 7 in the parking lot, and it sounded like I was beating him or something.

    Then, he on his own started playing guitar. I encouraged that then. I gave up him playing soccer and me being "soccer" mom. lol. Oddly, he liked gymnastics when too when I wanted him to play soccer. He flat out refused.

    He self-taught himself guitar, got him a few cheap guitars, and he played and played and played. At first he thought he was awesome, but he really wasn't that good, but I kept telling him how good he was and to keep practicing. I offered lessons, but he at the time was more introverted. He too used to love gaming, but now won't even find the time for it...older naughty son gave him PS4 and he won't touch it now, quit around 16 ish.

    Turns out, he is very very prolific now in other "art" forms. Some kids like sports, some don't. But guitar playing has a lot of good things that can happen. Like expressing ones self that way. These types are just on the "artsy" side of life. So maybe other things that way will interest him...not just guitar, but maybe any thing artsy...acting, writing, dance, other instruments....

    So wish I would have been so receptive to oldest Sons likes and dislikes. I think when he was younger, I was mentally stunted myself.
  12. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    There isn't anything I could have said or done. My kids saw some of their dads family members ravaged by drugs.
    I had the talks, but ultimately it was up to the kids to figure out who they wished to hang around with in high school, what their life goals were.
    Not blaming others, but friends and peers do have a lot of influence on these kids. Pot now is scary. I do believe there is other stuff mixed in, or it is stronger..... It is definitely a gateway drug.
    My two traveled, played sports, had some great life experiences as young kids. Wrong turn here and there, boom.

    Sequestering might have worked...haha...but we can't keep our kids away from the world, eventually they will be faced with those choices.

    My youngest is 14 and loves to skateboard. I let him go hang out with his friends. There is always this fear.....but I do talk with him a lot about making good choices and staying away from drugs. He is in the high school band and plays sports. I had an aversion to video games from the get go, probably from my days when it was " go outside and play."
    He does like to watch tv, which I need to curb.

    I guess what I want to say is, my two in their using state will blame anything and anybody (mainly me) for this choice. It keeps them obliviously doing what they do, eyes on everyone else, they don't judge themselves, or see a need to change because it is "not their fault"....

    Would I change certain things that happened along the way of raising them? Sure would. It is this parenting thing in difficult circumstances, times, the question is, what makes one child thrive and one not?
    It really has to do with them as much as us.......

    I think communication is important, and being alert to personality changes and watching who they are hanging out with. Okay I am going beyond the question.

    Maybe it is as simple as "Stay away from drugs and people who use them."
    Say it and say it a lot. They hear it in school....

    Pigless, stop being mean to yourself about the gaming thing. We can only do so much. The key is you are working at remedies for it now. Good job.

    I think Detaching is on to something with the guitar playing. I am self taught, haven't played in a while....too darn busy. But, there are tons of easy music books, beginner guitars are pretty affordable.....If Ferb would be interested....

    I think it really would have worked out well if we were stranded on our own island like
    "Swiss Family Robinson"

    Okay, so not realistic, but one can dream and imagine, they had a cool treehouse, who would need to use drugs with an awesome treehouse like that?......Hey Pigless, your farm will sort of be like that.

    Ferb is 17, so he has probably seen a lot in high school already. I ask Son about it. He says there are lots of kids using in school. He stays away from them.
    YAY :choir:

    (for now).

    Fingers, toes everything crossable crossed and lots and lots of prayers for these kids. Life is hard out there. Son is noticing all of the "popular" kids, and talking about the social structure he sees in school. The kids are faced with so much in this stage of their lives. I think it is important to keep those lines of communication open and be able to discuss stuff without being overbearing and rigid.
    In my case for Son, having two older sisters go off the rails has been a constant reminder of what the ramifications of drug use and addiction hold for ones future.
    Although I wish it wasn't the case, this is a blaring in our face reality and lesson.........hopefully it will prevent him from ever dabbling, but only time will tell.

  13. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Ferb's X-box has been out of the house since the summer. I will probably allow him to earn it back as long as his therapist agrees this is reasonable. He won't get it back until he has repaid his debt to me though. Plus, there will be limits on the gaming. I would never agree to this if Ferb were not currently working and being very responsible about it.

    Leafy, I agree with you that it is mostly up to the kids and the choices that they make. I don't think it's realistic to ask them to stay away from people who do drugs.

    I understand that my teen years were unusual in that my mother allowed drug use in our own house. In some ways that was a good education for me. I saw firsthand how sad and cyclical the users lives were. I felt different. I wanted more for myself.

    I didn't try any drugs in high school or in college. At college, there were different types of people using drugs. Many, many times friends tried to get me to try various things, and I refused. I didn't cave until well after college. Several life situations conspired simultaneously to push me to a point low enough to go that route. I didn't care any longer what happened to me. Life had beaten me down. I allowed my previously good judgement to go out the window.

    It was during this time that I started a relationship with my first husband. He talked me into trying all manner of things I had never tried before. It wasn't until after I had therapy, realized that he was abusive, decided to leave, and became determined to rebuild my life that I changed my mind. I climbed out of my own personal abyss which included some drug experimentation. For me, there was something about facing my ex who was truly dangerous, that made me want to find a way to live. I still celebrate the day that I left him as my own personal emancipation day.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    We did talk about alcohol and drugs. We dont smoke, drink or do drugs. Yet one of our kids did in her desire to be accepted.
    I dont believe there is any surefire way. I know adults who were homescooled with church cirriculums their entire lives who turned to drugs.
    All we can do is our best. Life aside from us does intrude. Our kids decide who they want to be. Nobody else can do it.
    I do think kids with a passion ( be it dancing, sports, math, public speaking, anything) may be less at risk. But there are no guaranties. Drugs are everywhere, sadly.
    in my opinion only two things do help. I dont know if im right or not. Those two things are loving two parent families and the other one I believe helps is a young adult who is highly driven to succeed in life and refuses to be derailed by anything as petty (to them) as drug use.
    I have several young adults, including two of my own, in my family. Bart, who has a college level job without having gone to college, and jumper, very ambitious, wont even tolerate pot.
    It is partly personality in my opinion.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  15. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Pigless, I have to honestly say I don't think there is anything I would have said different. We did all the things that one would think should be done to keep your kid off drugs/alcohol. We got her involved in every conceivable activity, softball, swimming, guitar lessons, clarinet, band, color guard, girl scouts, gymnastics, chess club, I'm sure there are more. We talked about alcohol and drug use and her inherited background any my own inherited background. She had the Dare program in school, went to a private elementary school, went to church every Sunday, dad coached her softball team for years, was a stay at home mom, supervised her activities. Nothing could stop the inevitable. Her genetics would trump anything we could say or do. I saw it in my own family.

    In the end she followed the same footsteps as her birth mother. Nothing we did could prevent that from happening. I think it would have been worse had we not been in her life, but in the end it was almost as if it was predetermined. Our best hope is that the end result will be different, that our intervention will allow a better outcome.
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  16. compassion

    compassion Member

    I totally concur with Nancy. Relate to this post so much. What comes to my mind is I wish I had said/done LESS as I was/am totally powerless over her MI/SA. She was also adopted from birth and followed in shoes of birth mom. I home schooled and she was involved in every activity, lots of travel,etc.
  17. DoneDad

    DoneDad Active Member

    I don't think there are any magic words I could have said - we said and did plenty, like Nancy and compassion. No matter how hard you try, you're not raising your kid in a vacuum. I'm not saying parents shouldn't try - they definitely should. But there are no magic bullets and no guarantees.
  18. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member


    I don't think there is anything that would have prevented your son from developing schizophrenia. Not a different type of parenting, not more activities, not an older, more experienced mother, not more guitar lessons. It is a terrible illness, but in no way did you cause it, and no way could you have prevented it.

    For the kids that are avid gamers: would they be interested in computer programming? You could try Code Academy or Khan Academy and see if they would be interested in learning to code. Both are free. My daughter has been doing the Khan Academy one and really loves it.
  19. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I have some regrets, things I wish I had done differently but there aren't any words I wish I had said, or any words that I think would have made any difference. And to be honest when I go down the regret path and really think about it I am not sure any of the things I wish I would have done differently would really have made any difference...... And I find I have to stay off that regret path as much as possible because it doesn't do me any good at all and now is now and that is all that really counts at this point.