How Much Should I Tell My Child About My Substance Use When I Was Young?

    It’s understandable you might struggle with this decision. Experts don’t even agree on the best approach to take. Here are a few points to consider.

    You know your child better than anyone – even the experts. Trust your instincts as to whether or not to bring up the subject, or how candid to be if they ask you. Try to avoid giving your child more information than they have asked for. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible your child already knows the answer before asking the question. It is important to give an honest answer.

    Research suggests that parents should focus on talking to their kids about the negative consequences of substance use, your expectations for them to avoid substance use, strategies to turn down offers, and examples of others who have gotten into trouble due to substance use.

    Perhaps you have regrets or stories that demonstrate the chaos and havoc that entered into your life with substance use. What have you learned? What would you like to have your child avoid learning the way you did — the hard way? Explain why you wouldn’t use substances now. Tell them that we now know more about the bad effects of substance use, and that today’s drugs are far more potent that those you may have used. Say that you want your kids to avoid making the same mistakes you made. Be open to reactions that your kids may have to your past substance use. To the extent possible, anticipate what they may ask you, and prepare a response.

    Remember, it is also okay to avoid this conversation with your child if you believe it would have negative consequences. You know your child best. Trust your instincts.

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    How to talk to your kids about drugs if you did drugs

    The fact that you have experience could be useful. Learn how to talk about it.

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    November 2017

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