Teenage substance abuse is an all too common problem, and dealing with it as a parent can be overwhelming. Amidst all the worry over getting your teen clean and into therapy, if they were caught with drugs at school you might also have to deal with them getting suspended or expelled. Most school districts and states will have their own rules, so you’ll have to familiarize yourself with them if you want to be an advocate for your child. No matter the specific laws, there are a few things you can do immediately after your teen is caught to make the process easier in the long run.

First, you might want to consider hiring a lawyer. If your teenager is going to be facing any criminal charges related to their possession of drugs, you’ll need someone who understands the laws and the system. Laws about questioning minors and search and seizure can also vary from state to state. In most states, there are special rules for juveniles or first-time drug offenders, and your teen may be able to attend treatment or counseling in lieu of criminal charges.

In California, for example, your teen would receive a Notice to Appear at a hearing in front of a probation officer. They may let him or her go with a warning or offer the option of community service and counseling. Depending on the type of drug, the amount, and the actual charge (especially if there is no intent to distribute), the case may be referred to the district attorney for prosecution. If your child is tried as a juvenile, the charges will not be a part of their public record.

As far as punishments are school are concerned, you should obtain information about your teen’s disciplinary charges in writing. Usually, the rules governing suspension and expulsion are laid out in a guidebook, and you can refer to this is you’re concerned about whether the measures being taken are fair. Have the school official list the exact nature of the disciplinary action, as well as anything your teen might need to do before they can return to school. Also see if it’s possible for them to keep up with school work while they aren’t attending. If they’ve been expelled it might be necessary to transfer schools or attempt homeschooling to keep them from falling behind.


Regardless of what happens with the school or criminal justice system, you’ll also need to seek treatment for your teen’s substance abuse. Your primary care doctor might have recommendations for you, or if you’ve hired a lawyer he or she may also have advice. It’s possible that getting an evaluation by a medical professional could positively impact your child’s case.

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.