'Just Say No' Isn't Enough
Discussing drugs with kids? Start early and keep talking.
Breaking the Ice
Jeanette Friedman, a social worker at New York City's Phoenix House, the
nation's largest nonprofit drug prevention program, says, "Kids are more
likely to use drugs if parents seem to have any tolerance at all. This brings
up a delicate issue for many baby boomer parents, who experimented with drugs
in their youth, and who find that zero tolerance seems a hypocritical standard
to enforce." Simon says, "Parents are often terrified by this. But you
can share what you learned and tell your children that you don't want them to
make the same mistakes."
Look for opportunities to introduce the subject of drugs into ordinary
conversations. "Watch television with your child. Television programs are
full of these opportunities," says Friedman. "Mention Uncle John who
acts funny when he drinks. Say, 'I heard somebody at your school was using
marijuana, what do you think about that?' "
Above all, say counselors, it's important to try. "Many parents
underestimate the influence that they have," says Alyse Booth of CASA.
As for the Basham children, they are now 18 and 20. Having survived high
school, both are now in college, excelling academically -- and still avoiding
drugs, reports Barbara Basham. "So far, so good," she says.
Rochelle Jones is a writer based in Bethesda, Md. She has
covered health and medicine for the New York Daily News and the St.