“So, did you inhale?”

When was the last time you took a drug? Smoked a bong? Popped a pill? Was it a party on the weekend or was it 15 years ago?  If you have kids now or in the future how will you handle the inevitable “so mum/dad did you take drugs?”

This is how writer and dad Chris Howe plans to handle it. He writes:


“Not only do I expect that my children will take drugs in the future, I reckon they’ll enjoy them. To me, that’s a reasonable position, not too far from saying, “While I know that alcohol abuse is rife in Australian society, I believe my child will be able to handle it”.

I’m thirty-six. People know I’m a family guy at work. I’ve got two daughters and two more children on the way. I work in a large, stable corporate office yet I bet that it would only take a few enquiries and I could have the drug of my choice within a week. If I picked speed, cocaine or ecstasy, I bet I could have it brought to my desk by the morning of the next working day.

Drugs are everywhere. In two of my jobs, my direct supervisor has also been a drug dealer. So, no matter what job your child gets, what education they have or where they choose to live – drugs will be available and offered to your children.

Yet of all the talks, the ‘Drug Talk’ is the most problematic.

The ‘Sex Talk’ and the ‘Car Talk’ have been cornerstones of teen parenting for decades, and of course the ‘Internet Talk’ is the new conversation between parents and eight-year-olds. But these talks need to occur because we know that eventually, all our kids will get online, drive a car and have sex.

But the Drug Talk can be avoided. Perhaps your parental approach is zero-tolerance, or you’d rather let the education department handle it. Maybe you believe your child won’t take drugs. Whatever the case, it’s not a popular chat. And, when it comes down to it, few parents would claim to be anything but anti-drug, which in my case will be… ahem… hypocritical.

If I had to sum up my experiences around drug use it would be this: mostly positive, ta very much.

But I’m aware I’ve approached teen and early adult drug use from the best possible position. I’ve only used drugs as a social tool, not as an escape. I was solid middle-class born, Canberra-raised in a high-employment stable community. Neither money nor addiction has ever been an issue.


So I’m also aware that I’ve dodged bullets, when others haven’t. My life has turned out fine while others are ruined. I’ve been able to walk away when others couldn’t. I’m lucky because I’ve had excellent guides and advice, and I tend to think about shit a fair bit too, which led me to walk away from most of it in my late twenties to start a family.

As for these days, all I desire is sleep. I might not have had my last illicit pill, but the idea of staying awake for longer than I absolutely have to currently fills me with dread.

So there you have it. I’m not anti-drugs. Like anything, the ability to handle them varies from person to person and situation to situation. I acknowledge that people will have horror stories. But one of the reasons government ad scare campaigns don’t work is that the scenes they depict simply do not reflect the realities and experiences of tens of thousands of teen and adult drug users each weekend.

So, without future dithering here is my plan for the Drug Talk. I really would like feedback and discussion, especially from anyone who’s given the Drug Talk, or plans to shortly.

The talk will occur when my daughters are around thirteen. I’ve already been told this is probably too late but I think it’s the perfect time between having a pretty decent knowledge of drugs but prior to having taken them.

The guidelines I’ll suggest to my daughters:

– When people offer you drugs, talk to them about it. What’s cool about it? What’s not? How does it make you feel? How is the comedown? What happens the next day? People love being the ‘experts’ – so they’ll answer most questions honestly

– If it doesn’t sound like it will be fun, it probably won’t be

– Don’t try the addictive stuff. It’ll fuck you up

– No needles. You can’t spew up your veins

– Start small. Try a quarter pill

– The hospital is your friend. Hospitals won’t call your parents or the cops they’ll just help

– Plan ahead and manage the after-effects. Suicide Tuesday is easier to handle if you know it is called Suicide Tuesday

– Call me if you are fucked up and need help. I’ll come get you. No judging, no talking until you are sorted

So. It’s going to be a fine cussing line between education and condoning. And that’s the essential difference between the Car, ‘Net and Sex talks. We, generally, condone car driving, think the internet can be bloody useful and approve of sex between consenting adults. Drugs… not so much. A tough one, indeed.

However: I’m their parent, not their friend. It’s my job to guide them, so the talk has to happen. The government can’t do it. The education department would get destroyed in the press should they ever attempt to educate on harm minimisation. It’s up to me.

So, bring on the questions. Can you raise a never-going-to-try-drugs-ever kid? Would you want to? Is there any problem with recreational drug use? Is education condoning? Am I a complete naïve fool? Or simply an over-analysing middle-class wanker?”

Over to you…


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