When Should You Talk to Kids About Drugs?

when to talk to kids about drugs

To protect your kids from the dangers of life, you must have some tough conversations. It’s important to build trust with kids so they feel comfortable coming to you with questions. One key topic to address with your children is drugs. 

Drug use in teens is more common than many parents think, so the conversation about drugs should be one that starts early. The Better Health Channel suggests you should start the conversation about drugs when kids are around 8 or younger. As children grow up, the information you discuss will evolve, but it’s critical to start an open line of communication about drugs early. 

Talking to Kids About Drugs at Different Ages

When we think about talking with our children about drugs, we often think about the teenage years. However, the conversation should start much earlier. When talking to young kids about drugs, you may start by discussing medication use and simple information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. At this age, you should also take a two-pronged approach and talk about some things that are good for your body. 

When children are around 8 to 12 years old, you may ask them what they know about drugs. Correct any false information and offer a listening ear for any concerns or questions they raise. 

After laying the groundwork for a conversation about drugs, it will be easier to talk about drugs with teenage children. By the time your child is 13 to 17 years old, they may know people who use alcohol or other drugs and they may have their own thoughts and feelings about drugs. Discuss the risks of drug use, including the legal, physical, and psychological consequences. Make sure to give accurate information. 

Signs of Drug Use in Kids

Drug use in children is very concerning, and not something to take lightly. The signs of alcohol and drug use in children include:

  • Dramatic changes in appearance, friends, or physical health. 
  • Poor academic performance. 
  • Behavioral problems. 
  • Emotional disruption including isolation, fatigue, and depression. 
  • Lying or secretiveness about free-time activities. 
  • Dilated pupils in bright light or pinpoint pupils in dim light. 
  • Change in cooperation. 

If you do notice signs of drug use in teens, it’s important to intervene early. Early treatment leads to better outcomes. A family counselor is often a good place to start if you suspect drug use in your child.


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