In this lesson we are going to explore teenage drug use. In it you will learn:
If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers. This will really help you get the most from this lesson otherwise some of the concepts outlined may not make sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. After this the program will cost $997.
Think back to when you were a teenager. How did your parents broach this subject? Did they use fear? Did they avoid it? Were they open and fair about it? Were you satisfied with their approach or did it leave you feeling lost and confused? What do you want to teach your child about drugs and how will this empower them so that they are well equipped to handle this topic?
In this part of the lesson I’ve sectioned off drugs because I want to ensure that parents have a solid understanding of what’s going on and the very important differences between each type of drug. As an ex-rave promoter, I can safely say that I’m very well versed on this subject matter. If I didn’t try the drug myself, I was around it enough to know how it impacts people. But more importantly, I know why kids are doing them.
While no parent wants their teen to do any type of drug, it’s important that parents at least understand that there are severe differences between the many types of drugs your kid could be experimenting with. More importantly, each one requires a different approach because each one represents a different scenario as to “why” your teenager has chosen to try it or is already doing it.
When parents freak out about their teenager doing drugs, they tend to get concerned for the wrong reason. They start to blame the actual drug itself rather than what it actually means. What I mean by this is that if anyone decides they want to take a drug, the reason “why” should be the focus, not the actual drug.
Why Do Kids Take Drugs?
Here are the top six reasons that kids take drugs. I’ve also listed them in order from least concerning to most concerning.
“My Kids Won’t Listen To Me”
Parents are always complaining that their kids won’t listen to them. And it’s because of “how” parents are approaching sensitive issues such as drugs. Teenagers are listening more to your tone of voice and body language than anything else. As soon as you approach them from a place of fear and anxiety, it will set them off and they’ll shut down regardless of the “words” you use.
You need to accept the fact that your child is going to come across drugs and that the best thing you can do is neutralize the situation so that you take the charge out of it. Remember, teenagers use drugs as a way to rebel (in some situations) because they know it will piss off their parents. By being open, fair, honest, and neutral about the subject matter, you take that “play card” away because you’re not making it a big deal.
The first thing you need to do is not panic, freak out, or react in any way toward your kid. All it will do is push them away and close the door on your opportunity to discuss the issue with them. Remember as a Neutral Parent you welcome these topics and with your calm and assertive energy, provide the space for you and your teenager to explore these things.
Second, the best thing you can do is educate yourself about the subject so that “if” they’re going to try drugs or are already doing it, you can talk to them about it from an educated and intelligent perspective. And just to be clear on education, I don’t mean the propaganda that our government and school system puts out. The people who’ve developed these pieces come from a fear-based mentality, have never done drugs themselves, and have an agenda. You want to read up on fair, balanced, and neutral (meaning no agenda) information on drugs. I do go into each one of them, but depending on your situation you may need to go into more depth.
Telling your kid that they’re grounded and forbidden to do anything will only ensure your disconnection from them and you’ll lose the ability to have any positive impact on their decision making process (remember the “probability factor”)
I want to repeat this last sentence because it summarizes the whole point of this subject:
Telling your kid that they’re grounded and forbidden to do anything will ONLY ensure your disconnection from them and you’ll lose the ability to have any positive impact on their decision making process.
By respecting the fact that they are their own person and can do these things with or without your consent, you allow yourself the opportunity to help keep them safe and remain a welcome person in their life.
Personally speaking, not only have I done drugs over the course of twenty years, but was also involved with the “rave” and club scene, which were filled with every drug imaginable. Once again I want to emphasize that I’m in no way condoning drugs or saying that you should allow your kids to do them. What I’m saying is that they can do them whether you like it or not and your best bet is to stay connected with them during this process so that you have a better chance of keeping them safe.
I cannot begin to tell you how many “mommy and daddy’s good lil boys and girls” I saw at my parties who were pissed off at their parents and doing everything imaginable to “show them”. On the flipside, I also saw a lot of levelheaded individuals who may have partaken every so often with drugs but never let it affect them negatively. And (believe it or not), I saw a good handful of kids who were 100% sober. In fact, my partner and I were sober for most of our events.
When I did partake, I enjoyed many of the drugs I did and have no regrets doing them. They included marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, mushrooms, and cocaine (I never got into any hard stuff like meth, heroin, or crack). As I mentioned, each type of drug represents a different “frame of mind” and your child is choosing them for different reasons. Some are just for having fun, others are mind expansive and others are escapes from deeper emotional issues. To understand the specifics of each drug and what it means for your child, I’ve written lessons for each one separately.
Remember, once your child hit the age 14, they can pretty much do whatever they want. Just because you say they can’t does not mean they can’t go behind your back and do it anyway. You need to come to terms with the fact that from this point on, they’re there own person making their own choices. The best you can do is lay down the foundation for a solid relationship and line of communication with them so that they will take your words into consideration. And the best way for you to do this is by remaining neutral and making it clear that…
“I do not condone or want you to do these things, but if you do please know that…”
Do you see that starting off the conversation this way makes it clear what your preference is and at the same time acknowledges the fact that you know they can make their own choices?
Late Night Calls
Every parent dreads the late night call when his or her child is out. However, I can say from experience that the most damage that befalls teenagers is when they feel like they can’t turn to their parents, especially in the middle of the night when there is a crisis. You need to set aside your fear and make sure you have a relationship with your teenager so that they can call you. Would you rather them call you before something really bad happens? Or would you rather pretend your child is a “good little boy or girl” and then get the call from the police? It’s your choice.
You can either wake up to the truth of what’s happening or continue to shelter yourself and then deal with the consequences. I hope you choose to accept the truth of what all kids will be faced with at some point in their life and not wake up to a dreadful call.
State Of Being
The most important factor when addressing drugs is your teenager’s state of being.
Just like sugar, it’s all about “how” your teenager approached the drug. If they’re using it to escape or suppress emotional issues, then it’s a problem. What most parents fail to realize is that 80% of teenagers who try drugs are just exploring and experimenting. While of course it can still cause some harm, that state of being is much safer than someone who is pissed off at their parents or frustrated at life (or even worse, just bored).
Adding Fuel To The Fire
When a teenager tries drugs or alcohol out of curiosity and parents react and go into anger mode, this can set their child off toward a downward spiral. A lot of the damage that is caused in this scenario is that guilt and shame is projected onto the teenager. Parents start to “see” their child as being bad. When the child sees this, their little voice says, “Well, they keep seeing me as bad so I might as well be bad”. I saw many first hand accounts of friends who were good kids, did a little experimenting, their parents freaked out, and they went down the wrong path because their parents didn’t provide them a neutral space to explore life without judgment.
Most parents tend to do either the following when it comes to drugs:
Neither approach works. Number one says that you’re not in control and have no power. Number two sends a signal to your child that you don’t care and have “given up”. Learning to be neutral about the subject matter is where your power really is.
It sends a signal to your child that:
I promise that if you sincerely come from a neutral state of being, your child will see you in a completely different light and they will respect you which means they will take into account what you have to say.
Proactive vs. Reactive
If you have not already, I would highly recommend you take a proactive role in this subject matter and begin to establish the line of communication with your teenager about drugs. By doing so, you empower yourself and your teenager so that you don’t wait until something bad happens. Also, when you bring up the subject and do it from a neutral and open perspective, it actually removes the “taboo” feeling that makes many kids so curious about them.
Many kids like to take drugs as a form of rebellion. If you make it “not a big deal” and just an equal and valid choice, it actually removes the stigma from it and you have taken away the “charge”. And, just because you make it a valid choice does not mean you’re condoning it. You can clearly state to your child that you would prefer they not take drugs because of the health and psychological implications. However, what you also need to embrace is the fact that they may end up doing them anyway so you want to ensure that your teenager is as informed as possible so they can be prepared for any situation.
Your job as a parent is to educate yourself about drugs so that you can have an informed and intelligent conversation with your teenager about them. Kids can see right away that when you say, “Because I say so”, or, “Because they’re bad” that it’s just a cop out and a lame excuse. It does not (in their eyes) really help them make their own informed decision and it devalues your opinion when you just respond with fear. Having an intelligent conversation means that you have to explore the pros and cons without judgment.
Whether you like it or not, some drugs are fun just like drinking alcohol. If you have never tried them, how would you know that they are “bad”? Many parents just say, “drugs are bad” but they’ve never taken them. I’m not saying you need to go out and try some. However, being open-minded will get you very far with your kids. If your child is interested in drugs they value getting information from someone who can speak intelligently and fair about them. I speak with teenagers all the time about drugs and I can see their reactions are much different than what they are when schools and parents are telling them. I help them put it into perspective so they can understand the pros and cons. That is what they want; an unbiased and fair approach so they can make their own decisions.
When you respond to your child in a way that is not neutral and bias, it makes your argument null and void because they don’t see you as adding any real value to the conversation. How can they if you’re not even educated on the subject matter.
If you feel like you’re not well educated on the subject and need someone to speak to your child about this, please do feel free to contact me personally. I never tell kids it’s ok to do drugs. I just share the pros and cons with them “if” they do them. I also make it very clear that there are some serious risks: physically, mentally, spiritually, and legally.
Curiosity vs. Emotional
If you find out that your teenager is taking drugs, before you engage them about this, you first must be clear on whether they are just curious and “exploring” life or if they are upset with something and using it to cope with their emotions.
If your teenager is just curious, then you must remain open. This does not mean you condone it. It’s about you embracing the fact that they’re their own person and can (inevitably) do what they want with or without you. Many teenagers will experiment with drugs to some extent because they’re just testing boundaries and want to see what all the fuss is.
Some parents don’t even realize that they can actually help push kids into doing drugs because they:
If your teenager is just curious, as a Neutral Parent stay calm and centered and just talk to them about it in the same way you would with cigarettes and alcohol: You don’t condone it but at the same time you know it’s there.
If your teenager is doing drugs to suppress emotions, focus on the emotions and NOT the drugs. In fact, never bring up the drugs in the first place. You only need to be talking about the challenge they’re facing which is why they’re taking them. Many teens get in trouble with drugs because they’re having a hard time with life. You need to focus on THAT and not the drugs. The drug is just a symptom, not the root cause.
One of the biggest fears for any parent is to hear that their child is now addicted to drugs. Addictions run rampant in our society and are not exclusive to teenagers. Addictions stem from the person’s state of being and “how” they approach the substance, not the actual substance itself. Addictive personalities tend to be individuals who don’t have a strong sense of self and don’t know how to balance things in their life.
If you don’t want your child to run the risk of becoming addicted to drugs, then you need to help them find balance in all aspects of their life. This will then easily translate over to the issue of drugs. More importantly, when people are filled with passion about life and are excited about what they’re doing, they won’t be bored and take drugs to fill their time. Most addictions stem from boredom.
Drugs Are Everywhere
The way I see it, drugs are everywhere. To me, a drug is anything we use to stimulate our “natural” selves. This includes sugar, caffeine, cigarettes, over the counter drugs, alcohol, and so on. The only difference between those and the other illicit drugs is that one is socially acceptable and the other is not.
Look at a teenager who is overweight and depressed: They sit in front of the TV all day eating cookies and chips. I grew up this way and know for a fact that it’s a drug. I was self-medicating myself with sugar, salt and TV to suppress my emotions because I was so depressed. For us to try and separate marijuana from sugar is absurd. I know many people who become very agitated and “not themselves” when they don’t get their coffee or sugar fix.
The Big Picture
Drugs have had such a ridiculous stigma in our society due to propaganda. Parents have fretted the subject since the fifties and to this day have still not figured out how to talk to their kids about them. It’s simple! Talk to them about it as if you are talking to them about anything else that is a challenging choice they will inevitably face. Be open, honest, and fair. You would be quite amazed at how much your kids will start listening to you if you are neutral and fair instead of having a fear based agenda.
As you embark on this stage in your relationship with your teenager, remember THE most important goal is to maintain your relationship so that they’re not pushed away and go to extremes to rebel against you. It’s very important that you remember that your teenager will have to face these choices at some point and by sheltering them does a disservice. Also, never assume the worst in your child. You would be quite surprised how many (not all) are actually not doing much of anything.
Assuming The Worst
Growing up, I had my group of five male friends and we would always get together to cause trouble. We would smoke pot, drink alcohol, and do other “stuff” most parents would freak out about. We had one friend in our group who would hang out with us but never smoked pot or drank. He loved surfing so he valued his lungs.
His parents always assumed the worst in him because he would hang out with us. He would always tell them not to worry and that he was fine. Yet they still did not believe him. Up until a certain point, our friend literally did not ever do any of the “bad” stuff we were doing. In every sense of the word, he was a “good boy”.
One day our friend ran away from home because he was tired of all the drama with his parents. He got fed up with the way they were speaking to him and that they never believed him. He never gave them any reason to be concerned other than that he was hanging out with us. When he finally got fed up, he decided to be the bad boy they made him out to be.
Fast forward fifteen years and my friend went from being a “good boy” who loved to surf to being a drug dealer incarcerated, all because his parents consistently assumed the worst of him. Of course, these were his choices and not his parent’s fault. But had they established a line of communication with him and trusted him, things could have been a lot different.
By not speaking to your child intelligently about drugs, you face a whole set of consequences that you may not even realize. As an ex-rave promoter, I used to have to deal with the drug issue on a daily basis. Some kids were dying, while others were getting very sick because of the lack of information.
In fact, there was a group in our community that I worked very closely with whose only purpose was to educate teenagers about drugs because their parents and society didn’t (And once again, telling kids “Drugs are bad” is not educating them). This was a non-profit group that did not condone drug use, but they understood that it was happening and that the best thing to do was to inform these kids so that if something happened, they at least knew what to do.
As your child’s guide, you need to empower them with intelligent information so that they can make informed decisions.
How To Talk To Your Teen About Drugs
1. Stay Neutral
Adding judgment or any negative reaction only adds fuel to the fire. It also gives the impression that you have an agenda and this makes them not want to listen to you. By creating a neutral space in which to explore this topic, you help to set up a healthy foundation where the lines of communication are open.
2. Educate Yourself
Become well informed on the subject so that you can actually speak intelligently about it. Regurgitating the propaganda the government tells us will not be helpful. Your teenager values honesty and truth not fear. If you don’t have the capability to speak intelligently about it, find someone who can. And just to be clear here, kids know that the information coming from schools and the government is BS.
3. Set Realistic Boundaries
It’s ok to tell your teenager to not bring drugs home and to let them know that you do not condone them. However, if you judge them it will create distance. Learn to set fair boundaries without pushing them away.
4. Find Out Why
Be “genuinely” curious and find out why your teenager wants to try them. See what’s in it for them. Is it just because they want to fit in or is there more to it? Also, the “why” is more important then the drug itself because it’s the “why” that creates the environment for it to happen, not the drug. Remember that the drug is just a symbol of a deeper emotional issue so focus on that.
5. Two types of drugs
In assessing your situation, remember there are recreational drugs and hard drugs. While no parent condones recreational drugs, it’s also important to know that you don’t need to be as concerned. However, if they’re taking hard drugs, this is a sign they are self-medicating and suppressing emotions. At this point you do need to be concerned while still remaining calm and centered.
Types Of Drugs
I go into each of these in more detail in the following lessons:
1. Recreational Drugs
To read our lesson on Marijuana go here.
To read our lesson on Ecstasy go here.
2. Recreational Psychedelic Drugs
To read our lesson on Psychedelics go here.
3. Hard Drugs
To read our lesson on Hard Drugs go here.
4. Prescription Drugs
To read our lesson on Prescription Drugs go here.
Is There A Solution?
Of course no parent wants to see their kids doing drugs, even if it is purely for recreational use. So is there a way to ensure your kids will never try them? Besides being open, intelligent, and fair with your kids about drugs (so that you do not entice them by making them more curious), there is only one other solution I can think of that may keep them away from drugs:
Being passionate about something.
Most people in general (not just kids) do any type of drug (especially sugar) because they’re not doing something they love in life. Look at anyone who is completely enamored with life. Rarely do they ever have any drug issues. Personally speaking once I found my passion in life it literally changed me. I’ve also seen this on countless occasions with people of all ages in that once they find something they’re really in to, it consumes them. This “consumption” creates an environment where the choice of drugs has almost vanished. In other words, the probability factor goes way down.
How vs. What
I hope you’re seeing the trend. It’s the “how” not the “what”. In the following chapters I’ll go into each substance specifically so you can get a better sense of what each are and what they mean if your child is doing them.
In each substance outline you will notice the “concern level”. I have rated these on a scale from 1 – 10, with 10 being the most concerning. I think you might be surprised as to what you might be most concerned with.
Watch the TV show South Park season 6 episode 16. You can watch it here for free. This is a great example (in a very playful way) of how parents distort the truth about drugs and the effects it has on our youth. It then shows a simple talk a parent can have with their child.
I am on a mission to help heal this planet because I truly believe that so much of the trauma and drama our society endures stems from the fact that as youth we did not learn how to address our emotions, solve our problems, and discover our authentic selves. If you find any of this material beneficial, please support this school and our message by taking the following actions below.
– Sergio Diazgranados