Fathers: talk to children about drugs and alcohol

Nickolaus Hayes Contributing Columnist

Nickolaus Hayes Contributing Columnist

Being a father is not easy; it takes sacrifice, which means playing a vital role in a child’s life by being there for them and loving them unconditionally.

Every father knows that he must provide a lot of love and support. A father is always there for their children, offering them advice, support and education. The greatest joy for any father is to see his children flourish, succeed in life and be healthy.

Still, things happen in life, and children and teens experiment with risks while testing their limits, like trying drugs or alcohol. Fathers have a responsibility to talk to their children about drugs and alcohol and help them understand the risks and consequences.

Drug education and prevention remain essential to help young people make responsible choices. According to drug statistics, North Carolina teens are 2.23% less likely to have used drugs in the past month than the average American teen. About 8.14% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the state reported using drugs in the past month.

Illegal drugs are more readily available today than ever before. According to the DEA, drug traffickers have turned smartphones into a one-stop shop for marketing, selling, buying and delivering fake prescription pills and other deadly drugs. In the ever-changing age of social media, children and adolescents are easily influenced, as drugs and alcohol are often glorified.

Drug dealers advertise on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Posts are quickly posted and deleted with code words and emojis used to market and sell illegal drugs. Unfortunately, digital media provides an increased opportunity for marketing and social transmission of risky products and behaviors.

Fathers have the responsibility to protect and prepare our children for the world. Drug education is essential. Take the time to talk to your children about the dangers of illicit substances, how to avoid and deal with peer pressure, and what to look for. Be willing to share your personal experiences and help them understand that certain choices have consequences.

In addition to shouldering this responsibility, fathers must not neglect their well-being and mental health. Raising children can be a lot of things; there are many challenges along the way, and the pressure to be a good influence can get the best of us. We may question our choices and decisions and stress over little things.

All of this makes it vital not to ignore our mental health; children, especially younger ones, imitate what they see. How we deal with frustration, anger, sadness or isolation impacts our children in many ways.

Our actions have consequences. Children see how we handle every situation, and while no father is perfect, we need to be aware that they are impressionable when they are young. They admire us, imitate our actions and see when we do well mentally in life.

The key for fathers caring for their children is to take time to care for themselves. However, if you are having difficulty, contact 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Taking care of your mental health is the same as taking care of your physical health; it is an integral part of your well-being and helps make you the best father possible.

Nickolaus Hayes is a healthcare professional in the field of substance abuse and addiction treatment and is part of the DRS editorial team. Its main goal is to raise awareness by educating individuals on topics related to substance use.