Should parents tell kids about their past drug use?

Should parents tell kids about their past drug use?

The passing thought of revealing your drug addiction past to your children may be terrifying. With such high numbers of drug abusers and teens being among them, parents fear that the kids will imitate what they did. But, is revealing all about their own past is a good idea? Maybe not.

Playing a perfect parent

Parents often feel the pressure to be the ultimate role model – a superhuman who makes no mistakes, thus showing his/her children that they should be perfect too. But hiding their flaws and past mistakes isn’t going to save the kids from going down the wrong path. Although some studies have found that teens reported that they would be less likely to use drugs if their parents were open with them about their own past drug use, it is good to have an honest relationship without full disclosure.

Due to easy access and exposure to drugs of various kinds, children today have a higher likelihood to become an abuser if they don’t get the proper wisdom and knowledge. The keyword is to share the good and the bad experiences, but it is advisable to give an edited version. Too much information too soon might not be a good idea.

How much is too much?

If someone has been a substance abuser in the past, it might be difficult for the person to discuss it with his/her kids. And refusing to share everything about your past life is not lying. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), if at all a parent decides to tell his/her kids, it’s best to stick to the following guidelines:

  • “Don’t give a lot of details about your past drug abuse.
  • “Point out the problems your drug abuse might have caused. For instance, are there things you don’t remember because you were on drugs? Did you fight with friends or family because of drugs? Did drug abuse keep you from saving money, getting better grades, or a better job?
  • “Explain why you wouldn’t abuse drugs now.
  • “Say that you want your kids to avoid making the same mistakes you made.
  • “Be open to responses that your kids may have to your past drug abuse.”

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that kids whose parents had shared stories of past substance abuse with them were less likely to think drugs were bad. On the other hand, the study also showed that kids whose parents delivered an anti-drug message without revealing their own drug use were more likely to avoid them. The research, published in the journal Human Communication Research, surveyed 561 middle school students on the conversations they have had with their parents about alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana.

People of all ages suffer the harmful consequences of drug abuse and addiction. Abuse of and addiction to illicit and prescription drugs and alcohol contribute to the death of more than 90,000 Americans every year. If you believe that you or a loved one could benefit from visiting a detox center, please do not hesitate to contact the California Detox Helpline today. Call 855-780-2495 for more information.