As if parents don’t have enough to worry about, Fentanyl is gaining popularity, leaving tragedy in its wake. Over 200 people have died from Fentanyl in BC this year. Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich wrote a letter to parents and this what what he had to say:

What is Fentanyl? 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate narcotic; a prescription drug primarily used to help cancer patients deal with extreme pain. Fentanyl is up to 100 times more toxic than morphine and small amounts can be lethal. In the illegal drug trade, fentanyl is added “cut” into other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, oxycodone and ecstasy. It can be cut into powder, liquid, or pill form as a way to save money in production. You can’t see, smell, or taste it, and since there are no quality control measures in the drug trade, a drug user has no idea if and how much fentanyl may be in the drug they are about to consume.

But my kid doesn’t use drugs.

Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. Chief Rich says:

We have often heard parents say, “Not my son…not my daughter” and fortunately in many cases that is true, but we also have heard many youth say “My parents have no idea that I am using drugs“. This includes teens from all social-economic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Although there are many behaviours/signs to watch for it is important never to automatically assume your child hasn’t already or isn’t thinking about experimenting with drugs – it’s not always as obvious as we think.

Why Kids Use Drugs

  • Curiosity – usually only once or twice – almost always with alcohol or marihuana
  • Escape – usually from emotional pain
  • Peer pressure
  • Adult examples
  • To feel grown up
  • For kicks
  • Older siblings do
  • Become more creative
  • Deal with negative feelings
  • Look for spirituality
  • Relate to others better
  • Low self-esteem
  • On a dare

What Should I Watch For?

  • Abrupt change in mood or attitude
  • Sudden decline in attendance or performance at school
  • Sudden resistance to discipline at home or school
  • Increased borrowing of money from parents or friends
  • Heightened secrecy about actions or possessions

But HOW?

Unsure how to start the conversation? You’re not alone. These are some tips from the Chief:

Think first. Act second

How often have we acted on impulse and regretted it? Having a sound mind before approaching children will help keep a balance between what you’re thinking and what you’re saying about drugs to your kids.

Get in the habit

Develop the habit of talking regularly with your child on a variety of subjects. This will greatly facilitate the discussion on the issue of drug use when the time comes.

Just the facts

Everyone can get emotional around this issue. Some feelings are important but using facts can help keep the focus on the issue, while judgment can lead to misconstrued feelings and spiral the conversation downward toward unproductive ends.

Be clear and focused

You may not be listened to not because of what you’re saying, but what your teenager thinks your motivation is for saying it. Keep focused and balanced, and this should steer the conversation in the right place. Staying well-tuned into your motivations and aligning your actions with children accordingly demonstrates a consistent personality that will help the message resonate.

Be inclusive

Reassure your child that you want them to decide for themselves and be independent (that’s what teens want, really), but that you’re simply trying to help them make an informed decision by providing them with information from a valuable source…you.

Use the News

You can use an external reference like a newspaper article or TV show about drugs to start a conversation with your teenage child. Talking about an external situation can help you discuss the issue of drugs without your teen feeling like you are accusing him or her of drug use.

Offer them control

Teenagers will often test boundaries and at times may try to get control of situations. It’s best to try to engage your teen in dialogue on drugs by respecting his or her preferences about when to talk. So, spin the tables around by mentioning that you’d like to talk about drugs with them and let them decide what works for them. By allowing them the control to pick the time, date and location, this also shows respect for their schedule, which will make them feel important.

Constant praise

Rewarding positive behaviour, unexpected praise, showing respect and demonstrating interest in their lives will make you more approachable when they are running into difficulties and need someone to talk to about their problems.

Consistent boundaries

The tried and tested parenting method of setting boundaries is crucial when it comes to drugs. The lines must be clear, enforced and consistent for teens so they can understand the difference between right and wrong. Once boundaries are established, they must continually be repeated, and therefore easier to hold teenagers accountable when the boundary is broken. Talk to your teen about your rules around curfews, choice of friends, and knowing where they are at all times and develop appropriate boundaries together.

Evaluate the Dialogue

After all that, how did it go? The goal of any conversation is to feel as though an exchange of ideas and thoughts has happened. Did it? Were you doing most of the talking or did they? Remember, if you tell them, they might forget, if you show them they might remember, but if you involve them, they’ll understand. Give them room to engage and encourage them to participate by asking the right questions.

I’m grateful Abbotsford Police Department graciously allowed me to republish this information to help parents feel better equipped to handle the challenges of discussing drug use with their kids. You can read the full letter here and find more resources and information about drugs on their website

Please help other parents by sharing:

[bctt tweet=”How To Talk To Your Kids About Drugs & #fentanyl – #parenting advice from @AbbyPoliceDept Chief Bob Rich” username=”alliespins”]

1 Comment

  1. This was really helpful. There are so many new (and old) drugs that don’t even come on my radar. Thanks!