Talking with Your Kids About Heroin
Having meaningful, ongoing conversations about the use of substances, including heroin, is an essential part of helping to keep your son or daughter healthy and safe. Here are a few tips on how to foster mutual understanding and break through communication barriers so that you and your child can feel more connected to one another.
Get ready to talk to your child with these suggestions
Find out what your children know (or think they know) about heroin. Ask questions such as:
- What have you heard about heroin?
- What do you know about it and how addictive it is compared to other substances?
- Where did you get this information?
- Does anyone in your school take or sell heroin? Do any of your friends?
- Have you ever been offered heroin? If so, what did you say? If not, what would you say?
- What are the signs of an overdose? What would you do if you witnessed someone overdosing?
Use open-ended questions like: “What do you think motivates kids to take heroin recreationally?” or “What do you think causes people to overdose?
Use active listening. Be curious as to what your teen or young adult thinks about substance use.
Establish eye contact. Reflect back what you hear to let your child know you heard what was said. Reflections do not mean that you necessarily agree, but that you understand what your child was trying to convey.
Choose a good time and place. Look for opportunities to talk when both you and your child are most receptive. While it may be tempting to start a conversation when your child is rushing off to school or work, it is not ideal. Some parents find taking a walk, going for a drive or working on chores together are good times for conversations
Talk about the short – and long-term effects drugs can have on his or her mental and physical health, safety and ability to make good decisions.
Talk about their future plans. Ask your child what might happen if they make a choice to experiment with heroin. This gets your child to think about the future, and what their personal boundaries are around substance use.
Offer empathy & support. Let your child know you understand the teen years can be tough. Acknowledge that everyone struggles sometimes, but substances are not a useful or healthy way to cope with problems, no matter how normalized they may seem. Remind them that you are always there for support and guidance and that it’s important to you that they are healthy, happy and making smart and safe choices.
Understand your influence as a parent. Teens say that when it comes to making choices about whether to use alcohol and other drugs, their parents are the most important influencers. Clearly communicate that you do not want them to use illegal drugs of any kind, or anyone else’s medications. Talk about how this can be dangerous because they were prescribed to an individual for a specific purpose, and they could be harmful if taken incorrectly.