We need to radically change the way we talk to kids about drugs


By Lucy Nichol, Trustee

As children reach adolescence, there are a number of difficult conversations to be had. Having the “drugs talk” – even for the most open-minded and liberal parent – can be fraught, as we navigate a thin line between being honest and understanding, while also encouraging healthy choices.

The NHS advice on talking to children about drugs is broadly sensible. It tells parents not to panic, to do their homework and not use scare tactics. But it also advises us to steer our children’s social life away from friends who may be involved in drugs and to let them know that we don’t want drugs in the house.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, it assumes that the biggest threat comes from outside of the law and outside the family home. It also implies that we should tell our children that taking any form of illegal drug is wrong, and must be avoided at all costs. But this issue is far bigger and much more complex.

In among a talk about cocaine or cannabis, there is often no mention of the prescription painkillers which may be readily available. Nor does the guidance offered remind us that the drinks cabinet is the source of one of the most dangerous drugs on the planet.

Lucy’s comment piece was originally published by the Independent. Read the full article here.