I’m a big believer in telling my kids the truth. Most of the time. I mean, I still lied about Santa and the Easter Bunny, but those were fun lies. And I don’t make big announcements about what’s going on in my bedroom at night. There are things that we need to lie about, want to lie about or traditionally lie about. But when it comes to life and preparing for the real world, I’m pretty much a realist.
My oldest started asking questions about drugs when she was just hitting double digits. I decided to tell her the truth. Drugs are really fun. Seriously. If drugs weren’t fun, people wouldn’t do them. I told her that, too. I don’t think that’s usually covered in drug campaigns. BUT, I told her, they will kill you. They can kill you the very first time or the 100th time, but they will kill you. You just don’t know how or when.
I began pointing out actors and musicians who had died from drug or alcohol abuse. As she grew older and more celebrities passed tragically from these addictions, I continued to point them out. I personally knew people in my life that had died from substance abuse and I told her those stories as well. I explained to her the risk of getting arrested and the damage it would cause her ability to create options for her future.
Yes, drugs are fun. But are they worth it?
A recent study came out that indicates that adolescents are particularly susceptible to taking risks and continuing risky behavior when that behavior results in a better-than-anticipated-outcome.
I find this especially interesting. If we don’t tell our kids the whole truth about drugs-that they are indeed quite fun-then they may be more likely to try them and continue using them than if we withhold that vital information. Because if all they hear is that drugs are bad (which isn’t entirely true) and then they try something and experience it as incredibly fun, that will stimulate a part of the brain they are especially susceptible to and can cause them to repeat the behavior.
So go ahead and tell them. The WHOLE truth. Of course getting high feels good. Seriously. Who would risk their life, safety, freedom and health for something that wasn’t super fun? Getting high is FUN! But it’s incredibly dangerous also, carrying with it the threat of arrest, jail, loss of future employment options and even loss of life. Given all the choices of fun we have in life, it’s not THAT fun. That’s what we should be teaching them. Choose some other type of fun instead.
And then hope that they believe THAT.