\u201cTeach your children well,\u201d a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song famously advises. Children are impressionable, like tofu that absorbs the flavor of whatever it\u2019s immersed in. But sadly, many children are immersed in unsavory environments. It's time to learn how to teach your children about substance use. Influence of Parental Attitudes Some parents say they\u2019d rather have their teens drink at home than elsewhere, where they\u2019re in danger of driving impaired. Many parents minimize or dismiss the dangers, rationalizing that because they survived their youth, particularly if they grew up in the more freewheeling 1960s and \u201870s, their children will survive as well. But this attitude has the opposite effect of the intended one. \u201cParental attitudes favoring alcohol and other drug use tend to be linked with a greater likelihood of substance use by adolescents,\u201d said a study published in May 2011 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Conversations about drug and alcohol use between parent and child are highly influential, despite the erroneous assumption that teens aren\u2019t listening to their parents. \u201cParents need to initiate age-appropriate conversations about these issues with their children at all stages of their development in order to help ensure that their children make the right decisions,\u201d said Pamela S. Hyde of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in a 2013 news release. How to Have the Talk Should you decide to initiate dialogue about drug and alcohol use, teachable moments abound. For example, if there\u2019s a news report on television about a performer\u2019s death as a result of drug or alcohol use if there\u2019s a video going around on social media about a designer drug that your child might be tempted to try, believing it\u2019s cool to do so if they hear their friends talking about a peer who uses, those would be ideal circumstances to leap on board. It\u2019s never too early to begin the conversation, but it might eventually be too late. Even preschool children are savvy enough about what\u2019s going on around them to understand more than a parent might imagine. Share your thoughts about what substances do to the body and mind. If there\u2019s a family history addiction, let your child know the impact of hereditary susceptibility. Talk about the reasons people use, such as peer influence, boredom, self-medication, easy accessibility, the coolness factor or the seemingly low cost for some drugs. How Can You Open the Door to Teach Your Child About Substance Abuse? Opening the door by asking their thoughts is an easier way into an often-challenging topic for parents to broach. The single mother of an 11-year-old son, who she perceived might be easily influenced by peers, asked him what he\u2019d say if offered drugs or alcohol. He replied, \u201cI ain\u2019t doing it. That ain\u2019t cool.\u201d Grammar aside, her son's response pleased her. Even as an adult, he\u2019s refrained from drugs and drinks responsibly. The same young man was aware of the impact of smoking on those in his life. Both paternal grandparents died of smoking-related illnesses, so he chose not to smoke cigarettes. He did, however, have a \u201ccome-clean conversation\u201d at age 16 in which he called his mother and told her that while visiting a friend, they\u2019d smoked a cigar. She asked what he thought of it. He said, \u201cI hated it.\u201d She told him, \u201cGood, don\u2019t do it again.\u201d An environment of trust is essential. If children know they can openly speak with their parents about their curiosity and even experimentation, they\u2019re less likely to hide their use. If parental response is calm, rather than angrily and punitively reactive, the child is more likely to curtail use and enter treatment if the need arises. Parental Example Many parents engage in addictive behaviors while expecting their children to abstain. Clearly, parental influence extends to their example. Children watch their parents for cues to determine behavior. Ask yourself whether you\u2019re putting your desires before the wellbeing of your child or children by continuing to use. It doesn\u2019t matter if the user isn\u2019t in their presence. Children sense when something is amiss. Clients in treatment have shared stories of parents who would party with them, wanting to play the role of a cool friend rather than an authority figure. Initially, they\u2019ve relished that form of relationship, but later they recognized its detrimental impact on their lives. The good news is that, at times, parents and their children have engaged in treatment simultaneously, even going to 12-step meetings together. An obvious downside to parental smoking, in addition to exposing children to cigarettes, which contain multiple toxins, is that their children are more likely to pick up the habit as well. And the longer children are around a parent who smokes, the stronger the likelihood they\u2019ll smoke \u2014 and smoke heavily \u2014 according to a May 2014 study from Georgetown University's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Though trying to protect your children from substance abuse might seem intimidating, remember they\u2019re watching and listening. And as Crosby, Stills and Nash remind us, \u201cKnow they love you.\u201d Talk to Promises Today It can be hard to teach your children about substance use, especially if you struggle with addiction. If you struggle with addiction, we want to help you. To this end, we offer several addiction treatment programs, including: \tAlcohol addiction \tHeroin addiction \tCocaine addiction \tMeth addiction \tOpioid addiction To learn more about how to teach your children about substance use, or to get addiction treatment, call today.