Here we provide parents with information that could help them talk to their kids about drugging.
The overall aim of substance use prevention is to ensure the healthy and safe development of children and youth so that they can realize their talents and potential and become contributing members of their community and society. Effective prevention contributes significantly to the positive engagement of children, youth and adults with their families and in their schools, workplaces and communities.
All parents worry about their children as you have already decided to read this information. Estonia seems to be a safe country in comparison with a lot of others, and partly that is true. Your child might have a happy childhood with a minimum amount of mental traumas, but talking about drugging is as important as teaching kids how to stay safe with fire or electricity.
Drugging might happen even at private parties without alcohol being there and involving people that your child might trust.
How to educate your kids about drugging?
As parents, you might be shocked how early kids may face drugging problems. There are parties for teenagers starting from the age of 14 years old, where some of them start to try to find new friends. So you should start the education process of drugging when they are entering the early teenage years, as they are anyway gonna start collecting pieces of information from films and older kids.
Here are a few guidelines that might help you to prepare to talk to teens about drugging:
Stay on their side
You, as parents, should not stop them completely from going to parties as they will do it being educated or not, maybe earlier, maybe later, but they will do it one day.
As only a few teenages fully trust and respect parent’s opinion enough to follow their advice, you won’t be able to fully protect them by just forbidding them to go to parties and clubs. It is not because they are “bad” kids, but the teenage years are when they are trying to find themselves, so they want to explore everything by themselves. They will find a way to avoid your restrictions.
Show that you also were in that phase. Try to reminisce about how you went to a party for the first time. You can start by telling them your fun stories and bad experiences, so they will feel that you know what they are getting into.
Show that you will support them in case something will happen – good or bad. They should feel safe to share it with you. Tell them that even if you might get angry about some small things such as a messy room, you will always stay by their side if something serious happens.
You should not talk about drugging as something “bad”
You might face two reactions: desire to go against the rules or they will be too scared to socialize – drugging should not stop your child from exploring, but it is important to stay mindful about it.
Keep in mind which words you use.
And if sadly your kid will become a victim of drugging they should not blame themselves, even though we all hope that it will not happen.
Describe the problem briefly
Don’t talk about cases that you see in the news: teens have a habit to think that bad things happen only in movies or with others.
Don’t repeat this conversation every time they talk about parties: hearing you lecture them too often might get them annoyed with this topic. Even if you try to add some important points, they might think that they have already heard everything that they need, so they will just ignore new info.
Stay relaxed and trust
After giving your kids advice on how to stay safe – let them try their best. You will not be able to protect them all their lives. They are growing up and need to make their own experiences and mistakes to learn from.
Do not show signs of paranoia. Do not describe only the worst situations that can happen – they won’t believe in such scenarios.
Do not react aggressively even if they have not shown any interest after a conversation, they may be just handling their own issues and teenage complexes, but they probably have heard you if you were honestly showing your trust and concern.
Now knowing how to talk about drugging, this is what your kid should know about drink spiking:
❌ Never leave drinks unattended
✋ Don’t accept drinks from strangers
✏️ Mark the cup with their drink and keep it nearby
🔋 Have a fully charged phone
👭 Go to the party with a friend they can trust
🍹 Don’t take drinks from jars or punch bowls
👀 Look if your friends look too tired and drunker than they should be, if yes they might have gotten drugged.
🚨 Ask them to check the emergency guide so in case something happens – they already will know the action plan.
What to do if your kid had a drugging experience?
If your child comes home with symptoms like muscle laxity, too big pupils, or other strange symptoms we would advise to make next steps:
1️⃣ Do not blame them for this.
2️⃣ Ask them to take a drug test and check if they were harmed in any way. Keep in mind that some drugs have the effect of wiping out memories, they might not even remember what happened.
3️⃣ Report about it to the police
4️⃣ Give them mental support, maybe they would need professional help, but do not force them to get it. Your kid is supposed to have similar principles with their therapist.
5️⃣ Do not punish them – they have already gone through enough.
- International Standards on Drug Use Prevention, Second updated edition. Vienna: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Health Organization, 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
- Talk It Out. “Drink Spiking: Keep Your Kids Safe from Tampered Drinks: Talk It out NC.” Talk It Out, August 16, 2021. https://www.talkitoutnc.org/blogs/drink-spiking/.