Teaching facts about drugs and gambling

Alberta Health Services
News release
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent addiction.

Teaching your children about drugs and gambling is important. It helps children to have a concerned parent who thinks ahead and wants to keep them informed so they stay safe.

Children are smart and they are learning all the time. You are the best person to show them how to make good decisions.

The thought of your children using drugs may scare you, but as a parent, you are in a position to positively influence them and answer their questions.

Take time to learn the facts about different drugs and gambling. Tell your children the facts without sounding scared and without scaring them.
You can show your children that they can trust the information you give them.

Here are some things to keep in mind:
. You start teaching children about drugs sooner than you think.
. You have been teaching your children from the time they were very small. You have done this by telling them not to touch anything in the medicine cabinet, not letting them have adult drinks like coffee and beer, and telling them to stay away from cigarettes. Start by asking your children what they understand about drugs and alcohol, if they are concerned about anyone’s use, or if they have been asked to use.
. A drug is a substance that’s taken to change the way the body and mind work.
. A drug can have good effects, or it can be harmful. Sometimes, the effect of a drug depends on how much you use. If you take the right amount of medicine, you get better. By taking too much, you can get very sick. Talk about this with your children. You can also talk about different kinds of drugs like medicine, legal drugs, and illegal drugs.
. Talk about addictions such as gambling in a way that your children can understand.
. Use real-life examples. Children gamble for fun and don’t usually think of it as gambling. They usually call it betting or daring. Ask your children if they’ve ever made a bet or a dare with anyone about doing something that is hard or unsafe. An example might be betting a chocolate bar that someone couldn’t walk along the top of a fence. Explain that this is a type of gambling. In this example, if the person takes the bet and walks on the fence, he or she is at risk of getting hurt. The person betting may lose the chocolate bar. Both people are risking something they value, whether they know it or not.

Try to think of good examples.

Have you seen a movie or read a book with someone in it who has a drug or gambling problem? Do your children have any examples to share? Talk about the people in the book or movie. Talk about their lives and the decisions they make. You can use this time to give your children good information. Keeping your children informed is the best way to help them make good decisions.

More information

A number of resources are available to help individuals, families, schools and communities prevent through the Alberta Health Services Addiction Prevention Toolkit, visit www.ahs.ca.

These resources include information on what individuals can to do for their mental well-being including self-care tips, a key in reducing the chance of addiction occurring.

It is important to know if you are or someone you know is struggling with an addiction help is available.

Albertans can get more information or help by calling Health Link at 811 or the Addiction Helpline 1-866-332-2322.

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