Consumption, Addiction and Amy Winehouse

This weekend I talked to my kids about drug addiction. They don’t really know Amy Winehouse, and they aren’t exposed to the news that she passed. Not at home anyhow. I can’t control what they discuss at camp.

I posted this on Twitter when I heard about Winehouse’s passing a few days ago.

Amy Winehouse tweet

More than one person commented to me that they’ve told their kids that drugs are always bad. Unless you’re living in a Mormon enclave this probably isn’t the best teaching method.

Our kids watch us have a drink, they watch us take an occasional ambien, sip an energy drink or nibble a painkiller. Most of us aren’t drug addicts, most of us will never have a drug problem we do medicate here and there.

Telling our children to never drink is foolish. Telling our children we hope they won’t drink until they are of legal age is fair. Asking them to never drink and drive is reasonable.

Teaching our children that drugs are bad is a good beginning to the discussion. Teaching our children that drug abuse is fatal is probably more realistic.

I’m not worried about my 12 year old being offered crack, it’s simply not the norm for kids to start there. It is the norm for kids to drink a beer, smoke a little pot or experiment with pills. These aren’t scary drugs to them because they’re totally acceptable at the age of 21 (or at about 8 depending on the pills… ritalin anyone?).

Talking to kids, and listening to their questions (and the subtext) is what we’re doing. All of us who came of age in the era of Nancy Reagan and “just say no” realize that telling kids that drugs are bad isn’t the beginning middle and end of the discussion.

It’s got to be reasonable or they’ll know we’re fools.

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  1. Lissak

    Great post… ritalin comment… little unneccessary. 

    • Totally necessary. Kids see kids taking ritalin, kids see parents taking ritalin, if we tell them taking drugs is bad, dangerous and scary they will know we are hypocrites and liars. 

      • Lissak

        I don’t actually disagree with the intent, perhaps it was just the phrasing that hit a nerve. And it shouldn’t. 

  2. I agree.  There is a big difference between responsible consumption, medication and abuse, and “Don’t do it” just isn’t enough guidance for our kids.

  3. CharmingKEYper

    You’re so right.  As my children watch me sip my glass of Cabernet, they ask “Mommy is that alcohol?”.  I answer yes it is.  “In school we were taught that alcohol is a drug”.  So the learning begins.  We always need to stress to our children responsibility and accountability.  Few things in this world are b & w.  We all live most of our lives in the gray.

  4. Sara B

    I agree you have to be reasonable (even as a mormon, i know it happens and will happen with my kids one day…) however i think it is foolish to ever think “oh that type of drug isn’t the norm around here…” I have only been out of highschool for 2 years — i lived in a good suburban area…where kids still did hard drugs and went home to their all american middle class homes and good/normal parents. If you’re too cool, you’re kids are going to run all over you… thats what me and all of my friends did, because their parents “were cool” with it or let them drink anyways. Its a fine line, and your post is too short and simplified for such a deep topic. 

    • I don’t think a longer post would shed more light on the topic. Libraries
      have been written about kids and drugs. All I’m saying is that you need to
      talk to your kids, and telling them *don’t do it* is a really bad plan.

  5. Agreed.  There are a billion different “drugs” out there- some physically addictive, some not.  It would be hypocritical of me to say “don’t ever do it”, or “drugs are just bad” when I had my own experimental phase in college, and then a need for prescribed controlled substances in adulthood for a while.
    There is a difference between consumption and addiction… I believe there may also be a conversation in there about the “why” of consumption.

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