We’ve all been high school students, and we therefore know that when we were told not to do something, we did it anyway. This is a problem parents have dealt with for years, but it has become a more important issue when it comes down to drug use. Since the methods adopted in the Ronald Reagan era toward drug prevention were utterly useless, a new perspective on this subject needs to be considered. As Vice reported, the Reagan-era tactics consisted of labeling drugs as “immoral, emphasizing punitive and stigmatizing messages to try and prevent it with little consideration of what causes addiction.”

Parents are learning how to talk to their children about drug use in a new day and age. PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

Parents are learning how to talk to their children about drug use in a new day and age. PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

Obviously, if a parent tells a teenager that drugs are immoral, he or she will likely say, “Screw you, society. Immoral doesn’t mean wrong!” He or she will try to cross the forbidden line, daring to step into the drug world. However, this doesn’t happen because the teenager isn’t aware of the risks. Like every other teenager, he or she is blindly drawn by a spirit of curiosity, which enhances when met with forbidden fields.

Nowadays, parents need to familiarize themselves with new methods in order to keep their offspring clear of drugs. As Juliet, a mother of a 14-year-old boy, told Vice, “Refusing to make a big deal out of it helps prevent teens from seeing drug use as a sweet way to rebel.” Even though this might shock a majority of parents, Juliet is right. The best way to prevent kids from getting into drugs is by avoiding “the talk” and teaching teens that drugs are not the coolest thing in the world.

Being honest about the subject and clarifying the pros and cons of drugs are necessary precautions. Telling a teenager that drugs are wrong and bad for his or her health is like leading him or her toward them. On the other hand, casually stating that drugs give you euphoric sensations at an expensive price (including addiction or worse, death) can make a teen use reason. In fact, when one is told this information, he or she faces a choice. It isn’t a matter of rebellion or curiosity anymore, for the facts are clear and the teen knows what to expect. Common sense is now the only thing that counts.

It is for this reason that many parents, like Juliet, believe that marijuana should be legal. Making it legal would erase every aspect of interest because it wouldn’t be a taboo anymore. Another useful tactic is using real data and facts. We live in a world where we have unlimited access to information, so we’d better use it.

When talking about another mother, Vice wrote, “She was struck by data showing that early exposure to drugs is much riskier than later; in fact, 90 percent of all addictions start in the teens or early 20s.”

This might suggest that parents need to educate themselves, and it’s true — how can one teach his or her teenager to stay away from drugs without knowing the truth about them? Therefore, the only way to a teen’s conscience and rationality is through a mixture of evidence-based treatment and a lighthearted and open approach. Without these two components, the road toward temptation is surely open.