You’ve been worried about your teenage child for a while now. His usual adolescent sullenness was replaced by something angrier. He’s been secretive and defensive, trying to keep you out of his bedroom at all costs. He’s started hanging around with a new crowd that you don’t approve of. His grades have plummeted, and he’s dropped out of sports or activities that he used to enjoy. You debate with yourself for a while if he has a right to privacy you can’t violate and finally decide that you’re concerned enough to search his room. You start lifting the mattress and digging through drawers, and suddenly, there it is. The stash. You’ve confirmed that your teen is doing drugs – now what?
First, take a step back. Your first instinct might be to ask, “where did I go wrong?” but you can be sure that you’re not alone. According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry from April 2012, 78 percent of American teens had tried alcohol, more than 81 percent had been offered drugs, and nearly 43 percent had tried those drugs. While certain factors can lead to drug use, it’s probably not anything you’ve done. It’s an inescapable fact that teenagers like to experiment and test their limits.
Second, maybe take another step back, because at this point you’re most likely getting angry. How dare your child bring drugs into your house! He should know better, and you’re probably planning to ground him until he’s roughly 40 years old. Unfortunately, going in guns blazing is just going to make things worse. Teenagers are already prone to being defensive and argumentative even without the help of drugs. Let yourself cool down because if you start shouting, things are only going to go downhill from the start.
Make a plan. Talk it over with your spouse, if you have one, or a close friend or family member. If nothing else, write it down. Figure out what you want to say so you don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment and forget everything. If you know what kind of drug you found, you might do some research on it to figure out the side effects and how dangerous it might be. If you’re concerned, you could call your doctor or an addiction specialist.
Let the kid talk. Maybe he has a semi-legitimate excuse like he’s been feeling depressed or anxious, or someone at school is bullying him. Let him know that there’s still no reason to do illegal drugs, but that you’re there for him and you’re going to help him overcome these issues.
Lay down the law. Make it clear that you aren’t going to tolerate drugs in the house, and detail the consequences if it happens again. If it does happen, follow through on the punishment.
If things turn out to be serious enough, admit him to treatment. In most places, adults can admit their child to inpatient treatment facilities without their consent if they are under the age of 18.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.