The recent death of an extraordinary singer and songwriter, Amy Winehouse, has left her young fans stunned but not surprised. The 27-year-old singer was known for her harmonious sound, free spirit, and drug and alcohol abuse. Winehouse never shied away from making her use of drugs and alcohol public; in fact, her first single was titled “Rehab,” which shot to number one on the billboard charts. In the song, Winehouse discloses that the people close to her were concerned about her addiction and wanted her to go to rehab. But she refused the help. In many cases, musicians like Amy Winehouse use their music as an outlet for their emotions and the problems they face. Interviews with some of the world’s most popular musicians, who are known to have substance abuse problems, reveal that they have used their music as a way to cope.
Unfortunately, a musician’s intention of producing art and expressing his or herself can be sadly imitated by fans, especially the young impressionable ones. The danger of life imitating art is that while a musician might be telling his or her story, fans may be trying to live it. Music is so prevalent among teenagers and the most popular songs are the ones to which fans feel they can relate. Teens also often elevate musicians to role models.
While the music culture is dominant in the lives of teens, parents must take the appropriate measures to keep their teens from becoming involved in alcohol and drugs. Some parents don’t know how to start a conversation with their kids about this topic. Using the tragedy of Amy Winehouse is a way to open the communication channels with your teen and a great way to start the discussion.
Here are four easy steps to begin the conversation about substance abuse with your teen:
- Don’t be a parent in denial. Parents often assume that their teen is aware of the dangers of substance abuse. They also expect that their teen will make the right decisions not to use drugs and alcohol. No teenager is immune to substance abuse.
- Educate yourself on the subject. Educate yourself about alcohol, tobacco, and drug use before talking to your teen. You will lose credibility if you don’t know your facts and a clear sense of what drugs are prevalent among teens in your community.
- Start the conversation using a current event. The story of Amy Winehouse or another event that is in the news and relevant to your teen can be a great conversation starter. Discussing a topic that your teen is aware of will help you and your teen have a conversation about substance abuse rather than your lecturing them about drug abuse.
- Ask questions and provide answers. Probe your teen for his or her thoughts on substance abuse. Try not to ask questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Be prepared to answer any questions or concerns that your teen may have.
For more information and prevention tips on teens and substance abuse visit
www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com (A website for parents)
www.justthinktwice.com (A website for teens)