Talking with Your Kids About Cocaine & Crack
Having meaningful, ongoing conversations about the use of substances, including cocaine & crack, is an essential part of helping to keep your child healthy and safe. Here are a few tips on how to foster mutual understanding and break through communication barriers so that you and your child can feel more connected to one another.
Get ready to talk to your child with these suggestions
Find out what your children know (or think they know) about cocaine & crack. Ask questions like:
- What have you heard about cocaine/crack?
- What do you know about it and how addictive it is compared to other substances?
- Where did you get this information?
- Does anyone in your school take or sell cocaine or crack? Do any of your friends?
- Have you ever been offered cocaine or crack? If so, what did you say? If not, what would you say?
- What are the signs of a cocaine overdose? What would you do if you witnessed someone overdosing?
Use open-ended questions like: “What do you think motivates kids to take cocaine/crack?” or “What do you think causes people to overdose?
Use active listening. Be curious as to what your teen or young adult thinks about the use of substances like cocaine and crack.
Reflect back what you’ve heard your child say to let them know you’ve been listening. That doesn’t mean that you agree, but that you understand what your child was trying to convey.
Choose a good time and place. Look for opportunities to talk when both you and your child are most receptive. While it may be tempting to start a conversation when your child is rushing off to school or work, it is not ideal. Some parents find taking a walk, going for a drive, or working on chores together are good times for conversations.
Talk about the short – and long-term effects that stimulants like cocaine and crack can have on his or her mental and physical health, safety, and ability to make good decisions.
Clearly communicate that it is extremely hazardous to use illegal street drugs of any kind in today’s world. Explain how street drugs are more dangerous now because illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are tainting a variety of drugs found on the street, including cocaine and crack, heroin and methamphetamine and fake prescription opioids. Anyone who uses illegal drugs purchased on the street, even for the first time, is at real risk of harm and accidental overdose.
Talk about their future. Ask your child what might happen if they make a choice to experiment with cocaine or crack. This gets your child to think about the future, and what their personal boundaries are around substance use.
Offer empathy & support. Let your child know you understand the teen years can be tough. Acknowledge that everyone struggles sometimes, but substances are not a useful way to cope with life’s problems, no matter how normalized they may seem. Remind them that it’s important to you that they are healthy and making smart and safe choices for their own lives and that you are always there for support and guidance.