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Fathers should be talking to their kids about drugs, alcohol
Nick Hayes mughot
Nick Hayes

What does it take to be a responsible father? While there are countless answers to this question, it generally means playing an essential role in a child’s life and showing up daily.

Generally, fathers provide abundant love, support, and involvement, making sacrifices to ensure their children are loved and cared for. A father is always there for their children, offering guidance, support, and education. The greatest joy for any father is seeing their children thrive, do well in life, and be healthy.

However, things can happen in life, such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol, and teens and young adults become curious and often act on this curiosity.

According to the California Health Care Foundation, the rate of substance use disorder among young adults (aged 18 to 25) was nearly twice that of adults aged 26 and older and more than three times that of adolescents. Among those ages 12 to 17, 4.6 percent reported a substance use disorder in the past year. Among all age groups, marijuana remains the most common drug.

Illegal drugs today are more readily available than ever before. According to the DEA, drug traffickers have turned smartphones into a one-stop shop to market, sell, buy, and deliver deadly fake prescription pills and other drugs. Amid this ever-changing age of social media, kids, teens, and young adults have easy access to these substances.

Drug traffickers advertise on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. The posts are promptly posted and removed with code words and emojis used to market and sell illicit drugs. Unfortunately, digital media provides increased opportunities for marketing and social transmission of risky products and behaviors.

Fathers are responsible for protecting and preparing their children for the world. Drug education is essential. Take the time to speak to your kids about the dangers of illicit substances, how to avoid and manage peer pressure, and what to look for. Be prepared to share personal experiences and help them understand that some choices have consequences.

It is challenging to see our kids struggle with things in life, and as fathers, we can also face our own uphill battles, making it more difficult to help our children. The responsibility of raising children can be a lot; there are many challenges along the way, and the pressure of being a good influence can get the best of us.

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

Our actions have consequences. Children see how we handle every situation, and while no father is perfect, we must be conscious of the fact they are impressionable when they are young. They look up to us, mimic our actions, and see when we are doing well in life mentally.

The key for fathers caring for children is to take the time to care for themselves. However, if you are struggling, 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 contributes to you being the best father you can be.

— Nickolaus Hayes is a healthcare professional in the field of substance use and addiction recovery and is part of the editorial team at DRS. His primary focus is spreading awareness by educating individuals on the topics surrounding substance use.