The COVID pandemic has been hard on everyone for different reasons, but one that not everyone may have foreseen is a rise in opioid drug use. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has reported that the number of opioid overdoses rose by 33 percent in Michigan between April and May. Similar numbers have been reported across the country as the pandemic has gone on with no real end in sight.
The increase in overdoses during the pandemic is indeed alarming, but it may present a unique opportunity if you’ve struggled with talking to your children about drug use. First of all, your children will continue to spend most of their time indoors this winter, so you will have plenty of chances to speak to them. Second of all, drug use is clearly on the rise, so it stands to reason that your children could be exposed to it if they do go out and spend time with friends or even if they only communicate with their friends online. Much of the country is open now in a limited capacity, but people are still mostly stuck at home. Combine that with the stress and looming sense of dread that comes with a global pandemic, and it’s understandable why some people are turning to drugs.
Talking to Your Kids About Drugs
So yes, the pandemic is a perfect time to discuss drug use with your children, but you still need to be careful about how to go about it. Anyone who spends time around teens and pre-teens should know that simply telling young people that something is bad is not a good way to convince them to avoid it, so giving a stern anti-drug lecture probably won’t work. Instead, keep the conversation casual, and be honest about what drug use can do focusing on the effects on the brain and body, as well as social implications associated with recovery.. Explaining why drug abuse and addiction are horrible will help to de-mystify the drugs that they may have heard about or have been tempted to try. Children are smarter than many people realize, and they will understand why something is bad if you help keep them informed. Of course, it will also help to set a good example for them. Staying safe and healthy is already on everyone’s mind; it should be a simple matter to apply how we talk about social distancing, and the importance of wearing masks to drug use.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with a substance abuse problem. You might think it’s harder to get help during this time, but help is still available for those who need it the most. Shame often prevents those needing assistance to ask. Be open and non-judgmental. Now, more than ever, is a time to help connect with others.