Discovering that your child is using drugs is one of the worst nightmares a parent could possibly have. Confronting your teen about his drug abuse can be uncomfortable for both of you, yet something that must not be delayed unnecessarily. For some parents, using drugs once or twice is just a part of growing up. However, even casual or experimental drug use can turn into drug abuse before you know it, leading to serious health consequences, legal troubles and even fatal accidents.
It never hurts to have an informal talk with your kids about their experience with, or their opinion on, drugs. However, if you suspect that your teen’s actions are becoming way too suspicious, it’s definitely time to prepare for a serious conversation.
Don’t forget that intuition is the best parenting tool you have. If your gut says that something is wrong with your child, you are probably right!However, most parents are still hesitant to begin a conversation without concrete evidence and out of fear that it will end up making things worse. In that case, you may want to prepare for the talk weeks in advance.
Begin by looking for signs and symptoms. Chances are that you’ll find plenty of them if your child is actively using drugs. Referring to past occasions when your child acted differently and other observations that you made since you first suspected his drug abuse, can encourage your child to be honest about his drug use.
Your observations may include change in your teen’s social behavior, habits, appearance as well as his performance at school. Note how often your kid has been out past curfew time and if certain prescription pills in your medicine cabinet somehow disappear every time you put them there. While “snooping” may be against the rules of some parents, going through your kid’s stuff is probably the best way of landing hard evidence.
Once you have the evidence, talk to your spouse or partner and get on the same page on your attitudes towards drug abuse. This does not necessarily mean agreeing on all aspects but rather finding some common ground so both of you can present a united front to your kid and not give mixed signals. Working together will also help you manage your own mental well-being while dealing with a situation which is stressful for both of you.
Next, identify a desired outcome of your ‘drug talk’. Remember, it should not to be a one-time “confrontation” but rather a series of “conversations”. Hence, it’s important to know where you want each conversation to lead. Even small gains like agreeing that drug use has harmful consequences or agreeing to obey curfew rules, may help pave the way for subsequent progress.
Lastly, prepare yourself for your teen’s reaction. Your teen may not be very happy to learn that you have not only discovered about his drug use but are also raising the issue with him. You must be prepared to defend your actions. Make sure you have credible responses for retorts like: “how could you go through my stuff without my permission” or “you did drugs yourself once. Don’t be a hypocrite”.
Bottom-line: If you have a plan, your conversation is likely to go much more smoothly and you will be more prepared for any curveballs your teen throws your way.