With the legalisation of drugs in some countries around the world and the rampant portrayal of drug use in popular media, from Hollywood movies to internet memes, it is hard to avoid exposing your teen to the unwanted influences of drugs.
It could happen while your child is on a holiday abroad, at a nightclub or at a late house party you are unaware about. Whatever the situation, you will want your teen to be empowered and armed to make the right decision when the choice arises.
Here are some possible ways to prevent drug abuse among teenagers.
How to Prevent Teenage Drug Abuse
Tip #1: Know the Law
Singapore has some of the strictest laws in the world against drugs, so inform your teen about the serious legal consequences that he or she can face. As long as you are a Singaporean or Permanent Resident, if you are found to have consumed illegal substances even outside of Singapore, you can face a heavy penalty of imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine not exceeding $20,000, or both. This means that your teen can be prosecuted for drugs consumed even while overseas on holiday.
Tip #2: Establish Communication
As a parent, education, and not censorship, should be the solution. Raise the topic of drug use first in an open conversation and invite your teen to share his or her views. Creating a congenial and trusting atmosphere will encourage your teen to be more relaxed, honest, candid and open to understanding your point of view. Keep the conversation going throughout his or her teen years.
Tip #3: Set Boundaries
It is important that your teen knows your expectations of his or her behaviour on a regular basis. Not having clear and firm boundaries will make it easier for your teen to overstep them. Check in with him or her often and monitor his or her behaviour so that you are more likely to catch any changes in lifestyle or habits, such as a decline in academic performance or a loss of interest in hobbies.
Tip #4: Be a Part of Their Lives
Teens are more susceptible to drug use when they experience difficulties at home or at school. Drugs then become a means of escape or hope of finding a way out. Be a part of your teen’s life and make an effort to know his or her friends, usual hangouts and routines. Show concern and be actively involved so that he or she always has you as a trusted confidante.
Tip #5: Build Their Self-esteem
A teen with a strong sense of self-worth and independence is less likely to succumb to the peer pressure of drug use. Encourage your teen to develop and articulate his or her own sensible opinion on a variety of issues including drugs. Teach your teen how to be firm yet polite in saying "no" and how to walk away from uncomfortable situations with dignity.
Tip #6: Remind Them About the Consequences
Let your child know about the other real and irreversible consequences of drug use and addiction, which include:
• Physical health problems, including unforeseeable death
• Mental health issues and irreversible brain damage
• Strained relationships with family and friends
• Financial difficulties
• Decline in academic performance
What you can do
If you notice your teen is behaving strangely and the signs match those of drug addiction, immediate help must be rendered. You may contact the following helplines:
Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA)
Tel: 6732 1122 (Monday–Friday, 8.30am–6pm)
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)
Tel: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours daily)
Teen Challenge (Singapore)
Tel: 6793 7933 (Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm)
National Addictions Management Services (NAMS)
Tel: 6732 6837 (Monday–Friday, 8.30am–10pm)
If you wish to report any information, please call the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) hotline at 1800 325 6666.