09-04-2017 09:53 AM - last edited on 09-04-2017 06:34 PM by Ngaio-RO
Hi everyone...... I'm guessing this topic has come up many times so apologies for bringing it up again. Quick background. Our 16 year old (Year 11) son left school in May due to ongoing health issues (physical and also mental health issues). We decided he needed a break from the stress of school. It's been going really well and he's working on and off. He's a pretty good kid. Naturally though he has spare time on his hands, much more than his school mates who are still at school. He's had the odd beer with his dad at home and we're okay with that. Last night, my husband got up about 1:30am and walked past his room and he wasn't in his bed. My husband went looking for him and found him out on the veranda sitting there smoking (just cigarettes). This is the first time we have come across this. We really do not want him smoking as he has a mental health issue (diagnosis of severe anxiety, social phobia, depression, mild psychosis....although he is pretty well at the moment). The doctor has warned us that some people with these issues smoke and drink to self-medicate. We haven't spoken to him yet. It was Father's Day and my husband didn't want to wreck the night so sent him to bed and said we would talk tomorrow. I was worried my husband would go all 'fire and brimstone' on him with consequences and punishments etc, but I'm wondering if really we just need to 'talk', or counsel first. Talk about 'why', (I know it will be that he wants to fit in and is also probably experimenting to see what the fuss is about), and then discuss the health risks, the associated financial cost, the addiction side of it and how hard it is to give up. What do you think? This probably seems like such a minor problem in the big scheme of things, but we just want to be careful with how we handle it. We don't want it to be the start of a slippery slope. Does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks so much for reading. He will turn 17 in about 6 weeks.
09-04-2017 06:32 PM
Hey @lucille Thanks for raising this. It's not at all a 'minor' issue. Smoking kills more Australians than ALL drugs, including alcohol, combined. It's a big deal and the earlier it's addressed, the better.
Everything you've written is spot on! There are higher rates of smokers among people who have mental health illnesses or difficulties. Exactly as you suggest, it's most likely due to the calmative effects of nicotine. The problem is, besides the array of health concerns and astronomical costs, that shortly after starting smoking the body becomes addicted to nicotine and when the levels drop there's a spike in anxiety so it becomes this cycle of addiction and need.
I think your approach is a really good one. You're much more likely to see a long term outcome if you discuss with him issues like cost and dependence. For example, the more he smokes the more he will have to smoke. The nature of drugs is they are tolerance building so he may be ok to have just a couple now but eventually he will be smoking far more than that. At almost $20 per packet, that's going to get expensive very quickly.
Another concern you may or may not be aware of is the concerns regarding cigarettes and mh medication. You don't mention if he is on any but if he is, or there may be the need in the future, smoking can impair its effectiveness.
Here's a generation next article that has some great tips you might like.
Hope that helps.
09-04-2017 07:40 PM
Firstly it sounds like you and your son are well on top of all the other issues going on and have a pretty open and trusting relationship which is awesome. He is soon to be 17, and not at school so he probably feels he is more of an adult these days. I definitely think talking to him and approaching this issue in a way that treats him like an adult (even though of course he is a fair way off that!) may bring about better outcomes.
Chatting about why he has taken it up, and talking about it really being unhelpful alongside his mental health issues as well as the fact that if he likes playing sports or being active or if he is active and physical in his job then it will really hinder him. Its hard because a lot of those reasons are longer term and they seem to just see the here and now.
I hope the conversation goes smoothly with him - pop back in and let us know how it goes?