How to Teach Kids About Drugs

I was heartbroken to hear about Sylvia Choi dying at Stereosonic Music Festival from a drug overdose. As a mum I can’t even imagine the devastation Sylvia’s mum must be feeling right now after losing an intelligent, beautiful daughter! What can we do about this? As a parent I’m passionate about keeping the conversation open about drug use with my children. My children know about drugs and the truth that they temporarily make you feel high, and the danger that they are highly addictive and potentially lethal. I believe this is an ongoing conversation we should be having with our children, not just a one off lecture you give before they go to their first party in high school.

We’ve taken drug education to a whole new level, and in April this year my family and I had the privilege of living at Teen Challenge for a week, which is a drug rehabilitation centre in Esperance, boasting and 86% success rate at getting people off drugs. We went there to spend time with the students and perform songs for them.

I was touched by the bravery of the students, many of whom were parents away from their children. I felt privileged to be invited in to the rooms of some of the lovely women there to see photos of their gorgeous babies and could see that they missed them terribly. I had so much admiration for them- I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for them to be away from their loved ones, but they had the courage to be away from their children and families in order to get better at rehab, and return home healed and be able to give their children the love they deserved. I realised how fortunate I was to have my children by my side- something I take for granted. I told my story and was amazed when one special student said that she wanted to help save people from trafficking too and felt I had been sent to Esperance just to inspire her! Precious moment!

We spent time in the vegie patch, collecting eggs from the chickens and playing on the tractor. Spending time in the garden was therapeutic and even the tiny, fuzzy yellow ducklings that hatched on our last day there seemed symbolic of a new life and new beginnings. I was moved by the stories of the students and wrote a song for them called ‘Stay’. When I performed it on our last day, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.


Ashleya and I performing 'Stay' live at The Ellington Jazz Club

On my way to Esperance I read a book called 'Kids at War' by Jacob Hill, a former Teen Challenge student who is now the pastor of a church! My daughter Ashleya also read the book, understood how heartbreaking Jacob’s life was while he addicted to drugs, and on the dedication page saw the names of Jacob’s friends who had died from drug overdose- sadly it was a long list. My children also saw how sad the parents were to be away from their children at TC, and how hard it was for children to be away from their parents. My kids know that if they ever get on drugs they will be sent straight to Teen Challenge! They were pretty excited about that so I tried to explain that it wouldn't be like a holiday haha!

When I was back in Perth I received a message saying that the boys were listening to my song ‘The Angry Woman Song’ in the gym and working out to it, and it was so loud the girls could hear it from their rooms! So thankful to the students for welcoming us in to their community and teaching my children about saying no to drugs. For news in pre primary Jewel told her class that she had the best holiday ever at rehab!

I’m so devastated to hear about Sylvia Choi and I really believe we can help prevent tragedies like this by keeping an open conversation about drugs with our kids and our community. Thinking of Sylvia’s family and friends at this very difficult time and more determined than ever to keep the conversation about drugs open with my kids xx

Learn more: Read ‘Golden Haze’ by Jade Lewis, former TC student