02 Jul Communicating about Drugs and Alcohol
PRESCRIPTIONS FOR PREVENTION, VOL. 1:
Communicating about Drugs and Alcohol
Welcome to Cold Creek’s new series, Prescriptions for Prevention. Once a week a new post will be added, giving you lots of ideas to help you in your efforts toward preventing your family from using drugs and alcohol.
This week’s post is a general overview on communicating with your family about drugs and alcohol.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember, no matter the family member’s ages, is that communication is the key, and talking with your family about drugs and alcohol is imperative. Here are a few tips to help you do this:
1. Make sure it is a good time. If you are feeling pressed for time, are hungry, angry, lonely or tired (the HALT formula), or feeling irritable, it will most likely be an unproductive—even detrimental—conversation. It could easily end in frustration, and possibly resentment.
2. Don’t go in without a plan. It is so tempting to just jump into a conversation because we do it all the time anyway. However, where safety and wellness are concerned, doing your homework beforehand is a small price to pay for success. Learn basic facts about drugs and alcohol so you will be ready to answer any questions that might come up.
3. Remember to keep it age-specific and age-appropriate. Maybe your family is very young, unable to grasp certain concepts yet. Maybe you have a child in grade school, perhaps you have a teenager or maybe your children are adults. Whatever the case may be, learn to speak on their level of understanding. This will greatly increase their ability to listen, and to retain what you talk about.
4. Listen quietly. These types of conversations should never be one-sided. Your family is far more likely to listen to you when they feel that you are also listening to them. Ask questions often, and when they speak, listen fully, then repeat back to them what you heard them saying. Start sentences with phrases such as, “What I think I’m hearing you say is…” and “So what you’re asking me is…” This method is a surefire way to avoid as much miscommunication as possible.
5. Keep It Simple Sweetie (KISS.) This age-old advice from our grade school English teachers still applies in many areas of our lives. When opening up the lines of communication, keeping things simple is extremely important. Going overboard with details, rambling without pausing for questions, or dragging out the length of the conversation will only give them cause to tune you out. Again, this is where having a well made plan will really pay off.
6. Be a parent, not a judge or best friend. When engaging in a discussion about drugs and alcohol, it is most important to let your family know that they can talk to you about anything. Make that statement true. Refrain from harsh judgment or criticism. Do they feel safe telling you their thoughts? Do they know you won’t jump to conclusions or be hard on them? On the flip side, remember that it is also harmful when parents try to be their family’s best buddy. Your family needs clear and appropriate boundaries with their parents. Never underestimate your role as a parent.
7. Be honest and open about the facts. Tell them the truth: drugs usually feel good at first, but they hurt our bodies and minds, and that doesn’t end up feeling good at all. Help them understand that addiction can happen to anyone, at any time; the person can become addicted with as little as little as one drink or one drug use. Paint the picture for them, teaching them how addiction most often leads to the loss of jobs, possessions, friends and loved ones, health, freedom, and even life.
By reading our weekly Prescription for Prevention, you have taken a positive step toward building open, healthy communication with your family.
Keep coming back for more tools and information on helping your family stay away from drugs and alcohol.
If you need further assistance or information, help is only a phone call away. Cold Creek is available 24 hours a day, at 1-877-593-6777.