Pubdate: Thu, 09 Nov 2006
Source: Burnaby Newsleader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Burnaby Newsleader


Barbara Hansen is the mother of Nicole Hansen, a 19-year-old former 
drug user. Barbara, along with her husband, Barry, has worked hard to 
help Nicole get through this difficult and troubling time. It hasn't 
been easy. To help other parents, Barbara recently compiled the 
following advice aimed at parents and caregivers of teenage drug 
users and teens in recovery.

9 TIPS FROM ONE PARENT TO ANOTHER: Frantic parents frequently ask me 
what they should look for (or, in some cases, what they could have 
looked for). There are no easy ways to "save" your children from the 
dangers of drugs.

And it's not always easy to detect drug use -- the signs of drug use 
is often more difficult to detect than alcohol use. I encourage all 
parents to educate themselves about drugs.

In addition, I've put together a list of nine things you can do to.

1. LOVE THEM: This may sound simplistic, but it is essential - and 
more helpful to your kids than you realize.

Through loving them (and I really mean LOVING them), you will need to 
exercise more patience than you've ever known in your life. The most 
damaging experiences for any family member is in believing they are not loved.

Each person has his or her own trials to bear and perhaps they will 
not ever be able to entirely overcome them, but they must know they 
are loved unconditionally and that you are there for them.

2. LISTEN TO THEM: Sit quietly with your child and let him or her 
talk. Keep your eyes and ears open. Ask daily how your child is 
doing; ask if he or she has been using drugs (or if they've quit 
using ask if they've had any "slip ups" and if you need to help them 
get professional help.) My husband and I tried not to raise our 
voices and would suffer quietly in our own hearts knowing what our 
daughter was going through during the six months she was abusing drugs.

I suggest to parents to open your hearts AND your ears without being 
judgmental. It's the one aspect of the relationship between a parent 
and a child that cannot fail.

3. UNDERSTAND THEM: Know how your kid ticks. Realize that your 
child's strength's can sometimes be their weaknesses. Nicole's strong 
points were definitely a double-edge sword.

Her independence, loyalty, adventurousness, and trust and love for 
others also made her latch onto the drug scene and fall fast for the 
(false) friendships. It is the family's responsibility and duty to 
help guide children to use their strengths toward the right direction 
in their lives.

4. KEEP COOL - AND REMIND THEM: If you find out that your child is 
using drugs or is around users, do not lose your temper (even though 
you may want to). They need your patience now and mostly your love. 
Understand they are going through difficult times.

Your child, like every child, desperately wants to feel included by 
his or her peers.

And they often think the drug scene offers acceptance, fun, 
adventure, and true friendships. Which, of course, is a lie. Continue 
to let your child know that using drugs is wrong and damaging to them.

5. SET RULES: This includes setting and enforcing curfews. Be sure to 
insist that your child calls you at certain times to check in. Know 
your child's friends and whom they'll be with and where they are going.

I also suggest limiting or eliminating sleepovers past age 12. From 
our experience this was how many young drug users began experimenting.

6. KNOW WHAT THEY'RE UP TO: Make sure you are not so busy that you're 
unaware of what your child is doing. Set up a network with your 
neighbors and the parents of your child's friends.

Check in with each other on what they are "supposed" to be doing at 
each other's homes.

If no one is at your house during the day, I suggest leaving your 
work number with a neighbor who can keep an eye on the neighborhood. 
Many kids leave school to do drugs in parents' homes that are at 
work. If a neighbor sees kids around your home, you may want them to 
contact you at work so you can further investigate.

7. BE WARY OF CLUBS AND PARTIES: A lot of people use drugs at clubs 
and parties, however, not all kids who go to clubs and parties are users.

But it is likely.

If you notice that your child is receiving unmarked mail -- be 
suspicious. Many organizers send out flyers.

If you see flyers promoting dances and concerts and advertising "No 
drugs," "No drinking," and "PLUR" (peace, love, unity, respect) - 
realize that these mailings are from party promoters who are very 
aware of parents' skepticism and are often blatantly lying.

8. GET SMART: Do all you can to learn everything about the drug scene 
so that you can educate your kid correctly on the dangers of drugs.

They will respect you for caring that much that you took the time to 
find out about today's drugs and how harmful they are. Sometimes you 
will just need to ride out the problem and continue to try to be 
there for your child.

But remain firm and remind them of the harmfulness of doing drugs.

If measures need to be more drastic, contact a counseling center and 
drug rehab to find out your options.

9. GET HELP: If necessary, get help for your child -- but get help 
for yourself, too. You may need it for your own strength.

Go to your family, church or support network.

And, if need be, get professional help for the rest of your family. 
Don't allow embarrassment or scrutiny from neighbors to stop you from 
doing everything necessary to get your family back on a healthy course.
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MAP posted-by: Elaine