A Mother’s Tips for Talking to Kids About Drugs

Author Christine Naman, whose teenage daughter struggled with addiction, discusses actions parents can take to decrease the likelihood that their children will get involved with alcohol and drugs and to help them get sober if they do.


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– Hi, Guideposts. My name is Christine Naman, the author of “About Natalie: A Daughter’s Addiction, A Mother’s Love, Finding Their Way Back to Each Other.”

There’s a lot of things parents can do to decrease the chances that their children will use drugs and alcohol. Talking to them about it. Letting them know that you understand that they live in a world where those temptations and challenges are out there.

When you think that nine out of 10 people who struggle with substances say that they started in their early teens, we’re talking 12, 13, 14, so it’s important for parents to start when the kids are very young talking to them in small doses as they can understand things.

You have to remember, you’re still your child’s biggest influencer and I think it’s important for them to know that you’re aware of the challenges that they might be going through and I think when you allow them equal time to talk and listen, I think it makes it seem as if you’re on the same team and I think it’s very important that if you allow them to know that they can come to you, they have a soft place to land when they are having those challenges.

And don’t be afraid to share your stories of how you turned away from those, from drugs and alcohol too. I was in denial with my daughter Natalie. Like I said, she didn’t look like a drug addict to me. She looked like my little girl.

She was caught with heroin and there’s no denying that. I mean, even though we sort of tried to deny that too—Oh, she was holding it for someone else, it was the first time, it’s a big mistake—but eventually, you sit yourself down and you break the news to yourself, as painful as it is, and that’s when the real recovery and healing can happen.

Addiction’s a monster. I mean, you can’t treat it like a kitten. You have to go after it big and bold or you’re not going to get through it. There’s many places that parents can turn for help. It’s not one size fits all. Try and try again. I mean, that’s what we did. Natalie was through so many treatments: inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, counselors, therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists. We went to all of them and it wasn’t one quick fix.

I think she benefited a little bit from all of the help that she got and those pieces maybe formed together to make her recovery puzzle. There’s so much addiction and there’s so much alcoholism out there but where there’s many, there’s also a lot of help. So you just have to get out there and you have to try and try again, and not give up on your loved one but don’t give up on yourself either. It’s just as important to practice self-care and get the help and support that you need too.

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