It should go without saying and should apply to everyone, and not just parents, that dangerous drugs are a very bad practice; yet, people all over the United States and around the world still tend to ignore all the warnings. However, for parents, the importance of not doing any sort of drug around your children, and of keeping them away from people who do, is even more paramount. Not only do drugs have physiological and psychological effects on the user, but they can also have dire consequences, whether directly or indirectly, to the people around the user, not to mention the influential effects their use has on children. Let’s explore some of these effects.

Physiological effects of drugs can range from something seemingly mild like having the munchies or unusual thirst to life threatening things like heart and lung disease. Usually, these effects are cumulative, meaning that the more you use, the more at risk you are for developing consequential effects that are life threatening. This risk is not limited to illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroin either. Even legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco can increase your risk of life threatening diseases. One of the most common of these conditions to be associated with alcohol is cirrhosis of the liver, and tobacco is well-known for increasing the risk of certain cancers, especially lung and throat cancers. Tobacco can also contribute to or worsen breathing conditions such as COPD or Emphezima. So, as you can clearly see, a drug does not have to be illegal to cause such serious physiological conditions.

Psychological effects of these drugs, again both legal and illegal, are no better. Hallucinations, aggression, depression, paranoia, and psychological addictions are just a few possible effects, and any of the above mention drugs, as well as countless others that have not been named, can cause many of these effects. Since we’re talking about parents here, what would happen if use of a drug reduced your self-control, and a bout of aggression occurred, causing you to react violently toward your children? What happens if you start hallucinating about something that causes you to endanger your child, or even that your child is in danger and you need to rescue them, when in reality they are not and your efforts to save them from a figment of your imagination end up actually harming them in the process? This is yet another good reason that drugs should never ever be used by parents.

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What about the effects drug use has on those around the user? All drugs can have dire consequences for people around the user. Even if the drug never enters the system of a passer-by, the way they affect the user may alter the outcome of various situations.

I’m going to pick on the legal drugs again for a moment. Illegal ones are just as bad, but in my mind often the legal ones are worse, because they can be just as lethal as illegal drugs and yet people are still allowed to legally use them.

Take alcohol for example. In my experience, alcohol tends to enhance the mood of the person drinking. People who are funny when they are drunk usually have some witty remark on the tip of their tongue they almost never say sober. Those who get really depressed probably have a few demons they haven’t dealt with. Those who become violent probably have at least a few times wished they could knock the stuffing out of someone, but had the self-control not to actually do it.

Well, let’s say you’re angry and you decide to have a few drinks. With lower self-control, you attack your own kids. What if it’s not the kids, but you seriously injure a total stranger who presses charges and you go to jail? Nobody actually wants to go to jail, but instead of thinking how it would make you feel, consider how your kids would feel. They see their parent dragged off to jail by the cops and probably don’t understand what’s going on or may not get visitation, or may have extremely limited visitation and their lives may be thrown into disarray.

This is what you risk when you do any kind of drug, legal or illegal. Then there is also the fact that some drugs, such as tobacco, have negative effects on those who do not smoke but simply inhale the smoke of someone’s cigarette.

You are putting others at risk of heart and lung disease by smoking without it being their choice at all.

If they have breathing disorders, smoke inhalation could aggravate them. What about children? Their systems are underdeveloped, especially with younger children, and they are even more susceptible to smoke related diseases than adults are. Putting them in harm’s way such as this is most definitely a bad idea.

Finally, let’s discuss the influential nature of children. Young children especially tend to hang on everything their parents say and do. You are their primary role model for the first several years of their life. If your kids see you doing dangerous things, they’ll probably think it’s okay, even cool, and thus try to mimic what they see, monkey see, monkey do. They may even try these things and when asked why, the answer is ‘Mommy does it.’ This puts the responsibility on the parent for teaching their child by example.

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When children get older, their primary role model and main source of influence shifts from parents to peers. As they get older, what others their own age think of them becomes ever more important. This is why it is essential not only to set a positive example when they are young and hanging on what we say and do, but also to explain to them why choices like trying drugs are so bad. Most people have heard of the ‘Just Say No’ campaign. It tells kids to say no to drugs and that they are bad, but it doesn’t tell them why drugs are bad.

Just Say No isn’t enough to stop kids from being adventurous and inquisitive. This is why it is imperative that we as parents not only set a good example for our kids, but actually talk to them in detail about why such things are bad. Explain to them what will happen if they make that choice. As kids get older, it gets harder and harder to prevent them from making bad decisions, and a lot of parents feel like failures if their children do go down the wrong road, but the best we can do for them as parents is do our utmost when they’re young and make sure our own decisions don’t cloud their judgment. If we can do that, then we shouldn’t hold ourselves responsible if they make the wrong choices once they are self-sufficient. No matter what a great parent you are, you can’t keep your child from making their own choices and you can only do your best and hope they have learned.

I hope that this has been informative and, if you are a drug user and a parent or expecting, you will consider what I’ve said here and cease your destructive actions before they destroy you or your child. In most cases, I do not advocate one way or another, but rather present the pros and cons of both sides and let readers decide. However, in the case of things like this which can endanger children, I will absolutely advocate against it every single time. Please feel free to share what you’ve read here so that it may hopefully help others.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia.org

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