“Just say No!”

During the Reagan years the so called war on drugs gained a lot of press when Nancy Reagan came out with the strategy of “Just Say No.” The Reagan administration appointed a drug Czar that would strategize and implement programs to reduce the abuse of drugs in our country. But what we saw on the tv routinely was Nancy Reagan discussing this issue and summarizing the strategy with “Just Say No.” So when my child started a life with drugs was I being naïve by saying “Just Say No?” When I would discuss this very private issue about my child with close friends they would say tell your child to “Just Say No”. Twenty years later I look back retrospectively and say to myself you got to kidding! “Just Say No” to teenagers when discussing substance abuse is like trying to kill an elephant with a sling shot.

I am a firm believer in open discussions with your children about the issue of drug abuse. Education is important and knowledge is power. And in some way we might be prudent and parenting appropriately when discussing drug usage with our children, but this process has limited ability to stop teenagers and their friends from experimenting drugs. Taking prudent parenting to the next level of adolescent drug usage prevention the following areas I feel are a necessity. Knowing where your child is at all times and with whom is a given. Discussing in an open fashion substance abuse is also prudent. But key is to educate yourself as to the tell tale signs and behaviors of teenagers when you are suspicious that something might be happening with your child experimenting with drugs. Following thru on with your parental instincts.
And I feel the most important rule of parenting is we do not have to be our child’s best friend, but rather parents first. Making the tough decisions that we know in our hearts is what is in their best interest. Parents first, best friends second.

“Just Say No” might have been a catchy phrase and sounds good, but as a strategy to prevent substance abuse with our adolescents, give me a break. When suspicious behavior raises your concern about substance abuse, be aggressive and proactive in finding out what is going on with your child as well as implementing swift and serious treatment. This might not sound catchy, but I believe is a much more appropriate way of dealing with your child when they are at risk for serious issues and consequences as a result of substance abuse.

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