Should you tell your kids about your own past substance use?

I have wondered others opinions on this for a while.

I have seen it work out so many different ways. Some parents end out drinking and partying with their kids. And some kids are fine, others go down a bad road.

Does it have anything to do with parental input or is it just life happening?

My gut tells me to really encourage staying away from it all. I don't know how to do that without feeling like a liar. Or even what to encourage that would keep them away.


Active Member
Interesting question. I struggled with this when my son was in the throes of his pot smoking days. I smoked weed fairly often in high school but did not abuse it and chose not to tell him. He was argumentative and manipulative and my feeling was he didn't need any information that he could twist and try to use to argue his choice to smoke. I am certain the information would have backfired. As adults, we did not drink or party around our children. Yet he still went wild and found a way to blame us for it all. I read the book, "Beautiful Boy" years ago and I remember the author struggled with the thought that maybe he caused his son to go down the wrong path because they once smoked together. By the way, it was a heartbreaking book, that is now made into a movie. I don't recommend it and know I won't see the movie. Way way too close to home.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Starting Fresh

I completely agree with your theory on this. We did however drink around our kids and entertained a lot when our kids were growing up. Things were pretty low key though. No drugs ever. We also held very good jobs, maintained a beautiful home, etc. so I doubt that was the cause of our son going off the rails.

We never really discussed smoking marijuana with our kids because we felt it was none of their business. I smoked a lot when young, husband didn't much. When our son started to experiment with it, at first I wasn't too alarmed but I saw quickly that this was much different than what I did and boy, I was right.


Well-Known Member
I didn't tell my girls about my very minimal use of weed. But I have told them, that yes, lots of people do it, but it is not legal in our state. Some people can be an occasional smoker, and still keep educational goals or jobs a priority. But others are not able to do that, and get very side tracked. And often experiment with stronger drugs and get addicted.

I try not to demonize I know it can have medical benefits.

We rarely drank any alcohol in our home or in front of them. We just aren't big drinkers. If friends brought over a bottle of wine for dinner, we would serve it. If we went to a Mexican restaurant, I might order a margarita...once or twice a year.

But we have explained many times that they have a family history of addiction... And that social drinking could trigger problem drinking.

None of it seemed to help...they both have abused alcohol and other drugs. I wish I knew what would have made a difference. I now attend AlAnon meetings to try to make me healthier... Ksm
I remember being plagued by this myself. I abused alcohol from about 19 til I got pregnant with my daughter at 28. In the younger days it was mostly partying with friends but then turned into just my husband and I drunk together every night - I more drunk than him. Then I got sober...then started drinking "only wine" when she was about a year. I decided it wasn't worth it and I stopped - went to AA for a while but pretty much just figured I am one of the unlucky ones who becomes addicted to pretty much anything that feels good. I was an angry, blackout drunk. I go through bouts of depression and I was always very shy and reserved and alcohol lifted those burdons for me - so I know now I was self medicating.

But anyway, last summer my 18 yo daughter got belligerent one night and I called the police hoping they would take her in for a mental health evaluation...they did'nt. If I had told them she slapped my face in the car, they would have taken her to jail. I probably should have told them. They told her to go to bed. Well, one of her friends picked her up (one who acutally has a car) and I was so upset when she texted me "I love you mom, I hope you are okay" after her ABUSE, I unleashed in a text to her all about my prior alcoholism including a huge DUI where I spent two weekends in jail, had fines, had to go to driver school etc....probably wasn't the right way to tell her. I didn't tell her about the many times I drove drunk, or the time I woke up at 4 AM on the highschool campus in the rain under a tree, or the psychotic anger I threw on my husband at times. She knew I didn't drink at all anymore, but I never told her the extent of the darkness it caused me. But she knew about the other family members (everyone on my husband's immediate side is an alcoholic, drug addict or dead from biological father was a raging drunk from what I understood - I was adopted). They also smoked weed. I had smoked several times and actually got psychotic from it a few times which was awful. For anyone to say it is HARMLESS is an idiot! It might be harmless for some, but NOT everyone! My husband smoked weed regularly in high school and early college but quit on his own after just feeling like it wasn't benefiting him. During his smoking days, he also WORKED, went to COLLEGE and got decent grades, and got on with his life.
When he found a bong in her room about 3 years ago he went on about how he used to smoke and he ended up not liking it so he quit. Did that give her the go ahead? We told her no pot in the house but it falls on deaf ears. She is living at home again now that her boyfriend is on probation. That's another story.

Regardless of what we tell our kids about our own past lives, relatives, or anyone else, what they CHOOSE to do what they do is their CHOICE. Telling them or not telling them is not going to change whether they become an addict or not. I feel like honesty is the best but only if it doesn't hurt them. Maybe I am wrong and I was probably wrong to unleash on her in a text but it is what it is. How much more can I bash myself more thing I did wrong lol.