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It’s a question that many a parent with a less than squeaky clean past dreads hearing – “Come on, you did drugs when you were younger, right? Why can you do it and not me?” Even if it’s something as relatively innocuous as smoking pot a few times, you might not be sure about the best way to answer. Do you admit to it and use it as a teachable moment? Do you lie for the sake of being a good example? The short answer is that lying isn’t a great idea, because if your kid finds out about it later, they’re going to feel betrayed that you lied to them. On the other hand, if you do talk about your drug use, you have to be careful not to glorify it and make your child even more eager to try.

First, let’s assume that you really have never tried any kind of drug. You can honestly say that you haven’t, and then you should share the reasons why. Did all of those anti-drug campaigns actually work on you? Was one of your own parents an addict and made your childhood miserable? Have you watched someone else close to you throw all of their opportunities in life away or overdose? Just don’t make yourself out to be some paragon of virtue, or your child might feel like you’re being judgmental and decide to try drugs just to spite you.

What if you did use drugs in your past but you just don’t want to talk about it? You have the right to keep parts of your life private, certainly, but consider your motivation here. Do you not want to talk about it because you’re embarrassed or don’t want to look bad? If that’s the case, remember that you’re trying to keep your child on the right path here, and it might be worth a little discomfort to convey a positive message. You don’t even have to go into all the details. “Yes, I did use drugs, and I ended up doing some things I’m pretty embarrassed to even talk about,” will work just fine.

If you did use and you do want to talk about your experience, make sure you don’t end up veering off into stories about the fun old days. Remember the negatives that came from your drug use, whether it was poor performance in school, missing out on activities, or losing friends. If things got to the point where you had to seek treatment, or if you had an experience with overdosing, you can share these things, but try not to turn it into a horror story. For one thing, studies have shown that kids don’t react well to scare tactics, but you also need to make sure the conversation is mostly focused on your child and their own experiences and choices.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.