More Than a Dare

Did you go through the the Dare program as a kid? At my school Dare meant that we had a puppet that “visited” our classroom once a week and told us foreboding stories about drug and alcohol abuse. In the end of the program a cop came and talked to our class and made us sign a note solemnly swearing that we wouldn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs as long as we live. Reader, I did not follow through on that promise. You’re shocked, I’m sure. Here’s the thing. The Dare program is a great idea, but you have to do more than make a kid promise to stay sober forever. I think I was eight when I signed that certificate. I was sure I’d live with my teetotaling mother forever, happily playing house and harassing my brothers. I had no idea what I would be or who I would be.

Instead, my school should have worked with us longer and treated us like we were competent. I have to believe that the poor application of the Dare program was my school’s fault.  The town was very poor and didn’t have a ton of resources. They should have asked us questions, they should have tried to understand what our level of knowledge was about drug and alcohol abuse. I think the program was looked at as a necessity to my teachers, but also as a sort of magic fix. There was a diagnosis of a drug problem in this country. Dare was created, and poof, prescribed to all elementary students. The thing is, it wasn’t enough. You have to engage the kids with the information they are given. Here are some questions to ask your kids. Use the questions to talk with your kids about addiction. Listen to them, and learn about their views on the subject. Most importantly, be open and honest and compassionate toward them as you listen. I suggest making a nice pot of herbal tea, or maybe some lemonade, sitting down at the table and using these questions as a lovely guide to a conversation with your little person.


Questions to Ask Your Child About Drugs & Alcohol


  1. What is it like when people drink alcohol or when they do drugs? What do you think their bodies feel like? What about their brains? Do you think they feel good or bad? Sick or well?
  2. In what kind of situation do you think people would drink or do drugs? Is there a safe place and time to do drugs and drink?
  3. Why do you think people make the choice to drink or do drugs?
  4. How would you react if one of your friends started drinking or doing drugs in front of you? Has this ever happened to you? What was your reaction?
  5. Have you ever been around when a friend’s parent drank alcohol or did drugs? What happened? How did you deal with the situation. How did you feel about it?
  6. Has anyone ever tried to give you drugs at school or at a friends house? What did you say, and how did you handle the situation?
  7. Do you know what drugs look like? How do people take them and are there safer or more dangerous ways to take them?
  8. Do you know what it means to be addicted to drugs or alcohol?
  9. How do you think you would react if when someone asked you to drink with them, you said no, and then they wanted to know why? What would you say? Would you want to join them? If not why. If yes why?
  10. Do your friends at school think it’s cool to drink alcohol or do drugs? Why or why not?
  11. Have you ever seen someone who was high on drugs or drunk because they drank too much?
  12. How do drunk people act?
  13. How do high people act?
  14. How old do you have to be before you can drink alcohol?
  15. Is there an age where it’s legal to do drugs? Which drugs?
  16. Why do you think kids aren’t allowed to drink but adults are?
  17. When someone has too many drinks, is it okay for them to drive home or to the store? What about if there’s an emergency? Is it ever okay to drink alcohol and drive?
  18. Is it ever okay to try drugs? What about if an adult offers them to you?
  19. Is it okay to drink, just a taste of alcohol with a friend’s family for dinner?
  20. What happens if someone your age starts using drugs or alcohol?
  21. How can you help a friend who is struggling with an addiction? Who can they talk to about their problem?
  22. What makes someone want to do drugs?
  23. Do you think drugs help people feel better or make them feel worse?
  24. If someone invites you to a party and there are drugs or alcohol out to have, what will you do?
  25. What makes you feel pressured to do something?
  26. How do you deal with it when you feel stressed out, or you’re worrying about something?
  27. What do you do when someone you love or like a lot disagrees with you. What if you’re sure they’re wrong?
  28. Have you ever talked about drugs and alcohol in class at school? What did your teacher talk about?
  29. Can you name different kinds of drugs and what they do?
  30. Do you know what side effects are?
  31. Are some drugs more dangerous than other drugs? Which ones?
  32. What kinds of ways do drugs or alcohol change the way people act in public?
  33. Is it illegal to take someone else’s prescription medication?
  34. What is an overdose? What should you do if you’re around and someone Overdoses?
  35. If someone does have a problem with drug use or alcohol abuse, how should they get help? Who should they talk to?
  36. What does it look like to get help? What kind of treatment exists for addiction?
  37. Is it possible to be cured from addiction?


Even though this is an extensive list of questions to engage your child, don’t forget there is always room for more conversation about the subject. Let them see you interested in their thoughts and ideas. Make education a conversation instead of a Dare. Daring kids to do something, sure, it peeks their interest. But the thing is, kids have pretty short attention spans. But they’re smart. If you talk with them and help them understand the subject as best as they can they will begin to develop a moral around it. There’s nothing more sustainable than helping a child figure out what they genuinely believe to be true about a subject. What helps produce bad long term choices in kids is a lack of education.Educators and parents who do not fully help curious minds through a comprehensive exploration of the truths of drug and alcohol addiction can’t expect those kids to grow up ready to stick to rote memorized mantras based on statistics that weren’t backed up by tangible discussion.

If you or someone you know is or has been addicted to drugs or alcohol you may already know some of the scary ways it can affect the whole life of the addicted person, from halting productivity, to deteriorating the most important relationships, including relationships with the addicts children. If you’re back from rehab be honest with your kids. Talk with them about drugs and alcohol. You don’t have to share every detail with them, but sit down with them and talk about addiction with them in an age appropriate way. You can still guide them. Don’t let pride get in the way.  

If you are currently suffering from addiction, and are seeking out addiction recovery in Florida, call us now at (844) 299-0618 to learn more about our intensive inpatient treatment or outpatient detox center in South Florida. We are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our patients. Let us help guide you to the path of sober living.


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