Parents advised to have frank discussions about substance usage with their children

Published Jun 27, 2024


The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has highlighted the significance of having frank discussions about alcohol and drugs with parents, adults, teachers, and children having marked World Drug Day 2024 on June 26.

The substance abuse co-ordinator for SADAG, Tebogo Ramadiro, highlighted the value of early and continuous dialogue in minimising children’s exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Ramadiro said the focus of this year’s campaign is “Talk Early, Talk Often: Preventing Substance Abuse in Youth”.

“Early and ongoing conversations about the dangers of substance use can significantly reduce the likelihood of children experimenting with alcohol and drugs. These discussions not only educate but also empower children to make informed choices and resist peer pressure.

“We receive many calls daily from teenagers and young people who are dealing with alcohol or drug abuse and how it has seriously negatively impacted their lives. This Substance Abuse Awareness Day, let’s commit to creating a safe, informed, and supportive environment for our children. By talking early and talking often, we can make a real difference in preventing substance abuse and fostering healthier futures for our youth,” Ramadiro said.

To support parents, adults, and carers in this crucial dialogue, SADAG offers 7 practical tips on how to talk about drugs and alcohol with your child:

1. Start early: Begin conversations about the dangers of alcohol and drugs early, using age-appropriate language.

2. Be honest and open: Share facts and dispel myths. Honesty builds trust and encourages your child to come to you with questions.

3. Set clear expectations: Make your values and rules about substance use clear. Explain the consequences of breaking these rules.

4. Listen actively: Encourage your child to talk about their views and experiences. Listening without judgement shows that you respect their opinions.

5. Use real-life examples: Discuss the real-world consequences of substance use, whether from news stories or experiences within your community.

6. Stay informed: Educate yourself about the substances your child may encounter and the pressures they face.

7. Encourage healthy activities: Promote involvement in sports, the arts, and other positive activities that build self-esteem and a sense of belonging.

As the world commemorates International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Department of Social Development has also expressed concerns about alcohol as the first drug of choice for young people.

The department explains that the day underscores the necessity of international co-operation as drug trafficking is a transnational challenge that requires a co-ordinated response from governments, organisations, and individuals.

The theme for World Drug Day 2024 is “The evidence is clear: invest in prevention”.

The theme emphasised the need for effective drug policies based on science, research, compassion, and human rights, while also addressing the social, economic, and health consequences of drug use.

World Drug Day emphasises ending stigma, strengthening prevention efforts, uniting globally, prioritising compassion and education, and achieving a drug-free world through global unity.

The Star

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