Have you been concerned your child will start or already is using drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or others like prescription drugs? If you have, you’re not alone. Have you been confused about how to respond in such a situation? You’re not alone in that either. Here are five things you can do. Much of this information is from The Talbot Partnership for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention. You can find more helpful information on their website: www.talbotpartership.org
1. Be proactive. If you drink or use substances (including your prescription medication), lock them up. Or better yet, get them completely out of the house (except for your medication, of course). Don’t assume that just because your teen is using one substance, he’s not open to getting high in a different way.
2. Be aware. Watch for a decline in school work or less involvement with youth activities, blood-shot eyes, changing their group of friends, having friends who use drugs (or look like they do), listening to certain types of music, withdrawing and spending a lot of time alone in their bedroom, losing interest in activities they previously enjoyed – a sport, playing an instrument, dance, etc.
3. Make time to talk with and listen to your child. If you think they’re behaving oddly and you’re worried about the possibility of drug use, tell them. Listen carefully to what they have to say. Communication is the key. It will help them open up and feel less on the spot if you can plan to do this while you’re doing an activity they enjoy together, even if it’s a project they’re helping you with (i.e. working on the car, doing a home fix-it job, etc.) Be creative. It will make a difference.
4. Talk to a counselor. This is bigger than you can handle on your own. You need professional assistance from someone who knows more than you do – for yourself and for your son or daughter. Your child may not open up to you and probably won’t listen to you, but they may open up to and even listen to someone else. It’s worth a try.
5. Breathe and take action. If you discover they’re using drugs try not to freak out. While it feels like you’ve just been hit by a ton of bricks, you need to regain your equilibrium. Relax and take some deep breaths. Discuss what you’ve found with your spouse or a trusted friend and decide what action to take. A counselor offer help. Your response should include immediate confiscation and disposal of the drug. If it’s alcohol pour it out. Find out if your community has a Drug Drop Box for the collection and disposal of unused prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as vitamins and pet medicines. Call your local hospital to inquire about these.
A word about privacy – your child’s – if you find drugs in your home. Parents often wonder where to draw the line with privacy when a teen may be using substances. Remember, this is your home. Privacy is a privilege. If you suspect your teen is using substances, privacy goes out the window. They lost that privilege when they brought illegal drugs into the house. It’s your home, and it’s your right and responsibility to make sure illegal substances are not on your property, because you will be held responsible. Don’t ignore it or let it go.
I hope you find something helpful here. I know it’s hard. But you can be strong. You can do it.
This Scripture verse gives me courage: “Great is the Lord, and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit (he knows everything about everything and what to do in every situation).” When you don’t know what to do, ask Him – He will help you.