How Not to React When You Find Your Teen With Drugs
If you find your teen using drugs, your immediate reaction is likely to be extreme. You might want to cry, scream, break down or even ignore it and pretend you didn’t see it. How you react and what you do next could make all the difference for your teen’s future. Never assume that this could never happen to you. Any teen could experiment with drugs, so be ready and know what not to do if it happens to you.
- Don’t ignore the issue. Putting your head in the sand and pretending you didn’t see your child using drugs is a real temptation. If you ignore it, it will go away, right? As difficult as it is to face, you must do so if you want to protect your teen. Don’t chalk it up to youthful experimentation that is harmless. It isn’t harmless. Don’t assume that because it’s just pot or just alcohol that your teen isn’t heading down a dangerous path. Meet this head on before it’s too late.
- Don’t talk to your teen when he’s high. You know you need to talk to your teen about this and come up with a solution. The least productive time to do this is when he is high. Drugs are mind-altering. You need him to sober up before you can have a rational conversation. While high, he won’t understand the gravity of the situation. He may see it all as a joke. He could even get angry or violent. If he storms out in this state, he could get hurt or hurt someone else. Convince him to stay put and wait it out with him. Then let him rest or sleep before you have your confrontation.
- Don’t scream, shout, lecture or scold. When it’s time to have your talk, all your parenting instincts will probably make you want to lecture your teen on how stupid he has been or yell at him for being an idiot. This won’t help. You are only giving him a reason to distance himself from you and what you have to say. It doesn’t mean you can’t tell him how stupid he’s been or the risks he is taking, but you need to do it calmly. Start a rational but serious conversation about what happened and what you expect to happen next with regard to his drug use.
- Don’t rely on punishment. It will also be tempting to use punishment to get your teen to stop using drugs. Taking away a smartphone or video games does not convey the gravity of the situation and it’s not likely to work anyway. Instead of punishment, set boundaries and talk about consequences. Let your teen know you will be monitoring him and that he needs to re-earn your trust.
- Don’t think he doesn’t need professional help. Part of the solution to this new problem you have may just be getting your teen some professional help. Never assume that your teen doesn’t need it. Think carefully about it and make the right choice. Consider how your teen feels, what led him to use drugs and if you think he might be struggling with some mental health issues. If you think there is any chance counseling or therapy could help, do it.
Seeing your teen use drugs is scary. How you react immediately and over the long term will dictate your teen’s future behaviors and choices. Address the problem calmly, set consequences, boundaries and expectations, and get him the professional help he needs as you lend your love and support.
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