According to the Partnership at DrugFree.org, 90 percent of drug and alcohol addictions begin in the teenage years. These experts agree, however, that parents can help prevent teen addictions by talking to children about the dangers of drugs and being directly involved in their lives. Engage the whole family in anti-drug activities to educate kids about the importance of drug avoidance while spending entertaining, quality time together.
Learning About Drugs
Engaging kids in activities that encourage them to say no to drugs isn’t very useful if children don’t understand why drugs are bad in the first place. Talk with your kids about the harmful effects and risks associated with drug use. Consult a school guidance counselor, doctor, police officer or local drug-free organization for tips and guidelines on how to discuss the subject with children. Then, engage kids in an activity designed to help them identify both the temptations and the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use. Give kids a pen and a notepad and watch an age-appropriate television show that portrays drug and alcohol use together. Encourage kids to jot down observations about how drug and alcohol use is portrayed, how characters behave under the influence or what the outcome of drug use is. Discuss everyone’s findings together. This activity also works with books, magazine advertisements and music.
Activities to Help Kids Say No
It’s important to teach kids how to say no to drugs, since chances are, they will be tempted by others at one point or another during their school years. Establish a family anti-drug declaration together, write it down or type it out, decorate it and frame and hang it in the family room or other gathering area. Conduct role-playing activities as a family to give kids practice saying no. Act out a variety of skits involving different situations in which a child or teen might be approached with drugs or alcohol, as well as skits that give kids the opportunity to demonstrate how people might act toward them while under the influence.
Reaffirming a Drug-Free Lifestyle
Keep children mindful of their decision to say no to drugs with activities that reinforce their stance against drugs. Break out the art supplies and create posters, complete with creative slogans, that condemn drug use or highlight its negative consequences. Get permission to hang the posters at the library, school, playground or other local places that children frequent. Another idea is to sit down together and write a poem about drug use or staying drug-free. Family members can either write and share individual poems or take turns adding lines to a single group-authored poem.
Other Anti-Drug Activities
The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign website points out that it is important to teach children to say no to drugs and yes to a healthy lifestyle. This includes choosing “anti-drug” activities that excite and invigorate kids instead of choosing drugs. Engage in plenty of healthy activities with kids, such as fishing, bike riding, going to the movies and doing other pleasurable things together, to remind kids that they don’t need drugs to feel good. Create a family list of “anti-drugs” comprised of enjoyable activities, or make pledge cards that identify each person in the family as a member of the drug-free community. Include each family member’s favorite “anti-drug” on the card.