Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.
This deadly attraction to tobacco, alcohol and drugs can be beaten.
Parenting a teenager can be tricky. The adolescent years are often filled with phases of self-exploration and experimentation. Your teen may pick up vices such as smoking, drinking and drugs just because his friends asked him to. Addiction to these substances can be dangerous and even deadly. So how do you protect your teen from this triple threat?
A good place to start is put yourself in your teen’s mind and try to understand why these substances may appeal to him.
Related: Have a Minute? Talk to Your Kids about Smoking
If your teen’s friends are interested in smoking, drinking and drugs, they may pressure him to experiment with those substances. The need for acceptance and fear of being outcast can make it extremely hard to say “no”, causing your teen to go along with what his friends suggest.
Some teens turn to substances to cope with stress and boredom, and their influence among each other can be strong. If you keep hearing your teen saying he’s bored or stressed, take heed. It may be a sign he is ready for anything that excites, including harmful substances. The emotional high that comes from doing something thrilling and forbidden, especially in a group, can be just as addictive as the physiological high that these substances produce.
The National Council Against Drug Abuse’s Perception Survey reveals that Singapore youths display more liberal attitudes towards drugs, and many do not fully understand the danger of drugs such as cannabis. Therefore, do not assume your teen knows the dangers and health hazards that these substances pose. Out of curiosity, they may feel that trying it once or twice just to have fun is no big deal, until they become addicted.
Some teenagers want to look and feel grown up and may see drinking and smoking as marks of adulthood. Perhaps your teen is modelling his behaviour after his favourite movie stars and think they can be as cool. Or they may simply be copying what dad or mum does, if they frequently see you drink or smoke.
Sometimes kids know how to push your buttons, whether it’s to get back at you or to get your attention. Picking up vices such as smoking, drinking and doing drugs is a surefire way to upset parents and force you to take notice.
Related: Help Your Child Cope with Puberty and Self-esteem
Your child’s teenage years are when he is forging his own identity. However, teens still look towards parents and other adult influencers, such as teachers for guidance. Here’s what you can do to steer your teen away from harmful substances.
Do you know the dangers of tobacco, the effects of alcohol and how drugs can be deadly? Stay updated with the latest knowledge so that you can identify tell-tale signs should your child dabble in substances. It’s wise to engage your teen early, before they start experimenting with this triple threat. If you are not sure how to bring up the topic, check out useful tips on how to talk to your child about smoking and drinking, and tap on the preventive drug education resources from the Central Narcotics Bureau for more ideas.
Know what your children are up to such as what they’re reading or buying online. Pay attention to their emotions and the kind of influence their peers may have on them. Should the opportunity arise, talk to your children about choosing friends and emphasise that substance abuse is not the right way to fit in. Encourage them to join healthy group activities to widen their circle and boost their self-esteem.
Conversations about substance abuse need not be heavy-duty talks. Find teachable moments such as when you come across relevant news reports or walk past people smoking at the kopitiam. Use these to find out what your child knows about substance abuse and thinks about it. Listen with an open mind and guide him to his own conclusions about the negative consequences.
Your kids will more likely follow your behaviour than merely do what you say. Parents who use alcohol and tobacco to relieve stress can send the wrong message to children and lead them to think that substance use is not harmful. Evaluate how you would like your child to cope with the challenges in life and do the same yourself.
If you discover your teenager already into these vices, stay calm! Find an opportunity to speak to him about it to understand his motivations. If your teen feels that his views and needs are valued and heard, he is more likely to take your advice to quit. Help him come up with a quit plan and motivate him to stick to it.
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This article was last reviewed on
Friday, April 27, 2018
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Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.