Tell the Kids the Truth

Moms and dads who grew up in the 60s, 70s and 80s have long struggled with a fundamental question of parenting: what do say when your children ask you about your own drug use? In the past, parents have often been advised to dodge the subject, and to provide answers such as Just Say No or Do-As-I-Say (not-as-I-did—no details about the not-so-spotless past!)

Talbot Partnership for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse reports that the latest research from the Hazelden Foundation, however, comes down firmly on the side of truthfulness when it comes to discussing drugs with kids. “With 54 percent of students admitting to using drugs by the time they leave high school and 50 percent using alcohol by eighth grade, it’s vital that all generations break through the stigma and speak openly about addiction and the benefits of treatment and recovery,” says Hazelden CEO Mark Mishek.

Hazelden’s survey finds that about 50 percent of parents admit that they got drunk or high as teens, and 25 percent of teens say they have seen their parents get drunk or high. Nonetheless, more than 90 percent of both parents and teens see parents as role models on drug-use issues, whether or not the adolescents were aware of their parents own drug use. Moreover, 63 percent of teens believe that hearing the stories about their parents’ past use of alcohol and other drugs would help make them more responsible, in turn. In fact, half of the teens surveyed said that they would be less likely to use drugs if parents shared their past drug experiences.