As parents, we all worry about when the time will come to start educating kids about drugs. No one wants to think about that but what will happen if we don’t do it? We can’t just avoid the topic, educating kids about drugs is one of the most important things for preventing them from experimenting with substances and possibly worse.  So here are some tips for educating kids about drugs.

1. Talk to them about drugs.

Having an open dialogue with your children about drugs is the most important way for them to learn about drugs and the harm they cause.

2. Start educating kids about drugs at an early age.

With younger children your opinion on what’s “bad” and what’s “good” is very important. Teach them what things can help them and what things can harm them.

3. Research the facts about drugs.

Know the truth yourself so you can be prepared to answer questions

4. Keep an open line of communication.

Let your kids know you are a safe person for them to come to for help. Let them know it is okay for them to tell you what is happening in their lives, good or bad. Please also make sure they have this seared in their brain: A drug dealer or a “friend” selling drugs will tell the kid ANY and EVERY lie in the book to get that kid to buy or take the drugs. If ANY person that even “looks odd or weird” & wants to sell OR GIVE a kid “candy” or anything, the kid should just walk away and find AND TELL their parents.

5. Define addiction for your children.

Tell them that drinking alcohol and using drugs can become a habit that is very difficult to control or quit.

6. Define what a drug is for your children.

Drugs are basically poisons. All drugs are. And they can do all sorts of things to the body. Too much of any drug will kill brain cells, kill the liver, or kill the body. All you have to do is look up the side-effects of any drug and you will see the effects it can have on a body.

7. Be strong in your own viewpoint about drugs.

Let your kids know that drugs and alcohol can lead to harming others, not just oneself. Tell them that taking drugs and drinking alcohol can cause fatal accidents. Explain to your kids that anything taken in excess can be dangerous, including pharmaceutical drugs. Tell them the dangers of taking any psychotropic drug (any drug that affects/alters perceptions in the mind) and explain that even cough medicine or pain reliever in excess can be poisonous to the body.

8. Know your children’s friends.

You can’t protect your child from everything in life as they get older and branch out and discover their independence, but you can make your home a safe place for your kids friends and help your child to make decisions regarding who they interact with.

9. Discuss with your kids what TV and movies really are.

Let your kids know that even though the media glamorizes smoking, drinking and doing drugs, that is not reality. There are serious consequences to all of these activities: regret, remorse, personal pain, prison, murder, theft, sickness, illness, death.

10. Give them a free drug education kit they can review themselves.

You can order The Truth About Drugs Education Package, a great tool for parents to educate their kids on the harmful effects of drugs. In this package you get pamphlets discussing different types of drugs and their effects as well as a very thorough, very impactful documentary containing real life experiences of former drug addicted people and the nightmare they survived.

11. Praise your kids for what they do right!

Part of educating your kids on what is harmful is letting them know what they are doing that is positive! Praise your children for what they do right.

12. If you are abusing drugs yourself, get help.

Abusing drugs or being addicted to drugs yourself can make it very hard to keep your kids away from drugs.

This post has been edited for length, see the original article in it’s entirety HERE. Thank you to the Suncoast Rehabilitation Center for such a thoughtful article on educating kids about drugs!