Parents should have an open, honest talk with their kids about drugs, says expert
Director of Ottawa addictions centre says trying to scare people straight just doesn't work
The director of an Ottawa addictions centre says parents should have an open, honest talk with children about drugs after an Ottawa parent's warning about teenagers overdosing on counterfeit painkillers.
Last week Sean O'Leary went public with the story of his daughter and her friends' issues with painkillers such as Percocet and Xanax, which health officials have warned could be laced with the deadly opioid fentanyl.
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"I believe parents have always strived to build trusting relationships with their children, this is where we need to continue putting our focus when we are giving prevention education," said Andrew Mendes.
"… Having these conversations about drugs is a must. It's part of our day-to-day reality. It always has been."
Mendes said parents shouldn't try to simply scare their kids away from trying drugs because that alone doesn't work for everyone.
"Substances have been used for hundreds and hundreds of years… Having this idea that people won't use substances at all does not match the reality," he said.
Instead, he said parents have to be "very factual and very truthful" that some drugs are much more dangerous than others.
"We can't be giving the message to kids that all drugs are bad and all drugs are the same, or else when we start talking about fentanyl the message is going be received in the same way: 'Here we are talking about drugs and you're mentioning that fentanyl is going to kill you,'" he said.
"Well, if we're talking about fentanyl in the same way we talk about alcohol or cannabis or other drugs, [everyone] will receive a different message and won't believe the risks associated with this drug that's 100 times stronger than any other regular opiate."
With files from Ottawa Morning