Desire: Your Secret Weapon Against DrugsBy
In a recent guest post published on Vanessa VanPetten’s, RadicalParenting.com, I discussed what is undoubtedly the single most important factor in the prevention of teen substance abuse. Ironically, it is factor commonly overlooked by parents, until of course it’s too late.
The desire to be sober, is a virtual inoculation against drug and alcohol abuse. If sobriety has been incorporated into a child’s belief system, the otherwise powerful allures of advertising, curiosity and social pressure become irrelevant.
If you think that your child holds these views already, it’s time to look again. Today, only half of 10th graders, and less than 60% of 8th graders, believe that weekly binge drinking is risky behavior. What’s more, 80% of these kids say that alcohol is easy to get. That means that one out of every two teenagers today, walks around with the means and mentality to have more than 5 drinks per sitting, once or twice every weekend. (1)
“Knowing is not the same as believing. This simple proverb may hold the key to your child’s future.” – Author’s Note
It’s no wonder parents lament over the seeming impotence of traditional preventative techniques. We set clear expectations, we enforce rules, we educate, and we minimize opportunity. But once our kids immerse themselves in the energetic and versatile teen social realm, we all but throw our hands up in desperation. Our influence weakens. External social pressure strengthens. Much of their time is unsupervised and many of their friends are already making mistakes. Faced with an impossible challenge, some parents openly accept substance abuse, and hope instead that their kids will just be “careful” with it.
But no parent should have to fear this loss of control. Imagine if things were simpler. Imagine if these external influences didn’t matter. Imagine if you didn’t have to worry about loosing control, because your child had clearly taken control. It’s true that some kids adamantly believe in sobriety. Some kids hold strongly negative views regarding substance abuse, and make the firm and conscious choice to stay clean. These kids are impervious to the temptation and pressure that others succumb to.
I was one of these kids, and since my tween years I have interviewed and associated with hundreds of others who held similar dispositions. None of these people are prohibitionists, social misfits, or boring doo-gooders. They obeyed the law. They believed the warnings. And they chose responsibility. There are many ways for you to help your child grow into this disposition, but you can’t wait for them to be a teen. It’s just too late. The adds, the commercials, the reality TV shows, and the people at your parties, are creating your child’s belief system. Your job is to counteract all of that influence.
As the barrage of external stimuli forces its way into your child’s consciousness, it must be tempered by the character of your positive imagery. Never assure yourself by saying, “My child knows what is wrong”. Of course they do! But knowing is not believing. Your kids have surely proven this proverb often enough already. Now that we acknowledge it again, take this impetus to foster their belief. Build their character from the inside out, and insulate your awesome kid against the horrors of substance abuse.
There is a never-ending supply of human tragedy, suffering and regret associated with underage drinking and substance abuse. If you need facts, visit our Underage Drinking page. If you need today’s relevant news stories, visit our Talking Points page.
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