I hope my readers will learn from this important post written by Anne Roberts.
So Your Teen Is Taking Drugs – What Can You Do?
Teenage drug taking is a major concern for many parents. It’s one of the things we warn them about most strenuously – not least due to the very real risks associated with substances. If your teen has got themselves involved with drugs, you’re likely to be very worried, and perhaps very angry as well! You may not know where to turn, or what to do. Don’t worry! You can both get through this. It might be tough, but you can. Here is a bit of advice for the parents of drug-using teens.
What Are The Signs?
If you think that your teen may be using drugs, but aren’t sure, there are a few signs you can look out for. Don’t leap to conclusions, however, as many of these symptoms are also naturally associated with the turmoil of puberty. If your suspicions and these symptoms tally in your teen, it’s time to look for solid evidence of drug use rather than launching in with accusations and potentially worsening a febrile situation. Some things to look out for are:
- Drop in academic performance.
- ‘Delinquent’ activity such as skipping school, shoplifting etc.
- Lack of interest in former favorite activities.
- General loss of motivation.
- Mood swings.
- Drop in standards of personal grooming and hygiene.
- Change in peer group.
- Deterioration of relations with family.
- Furtive or secretive behavior.
- Depression and/or aggression.
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
If it transpires that your teen is using drugs, and you have irrefutable evidence of this, your first emotion is likely to be very negative. There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s perfectly natural to feel despairing, or angry, or even guilty. The important thing is not to project this onto your child. However angry with or sad for them you are, lecturing them on what they’ve done isn’t going to improve anything. You don’t have to pretend that everything is fine – by all means let them know that you profoundly disapprove and are very worried about them – but try to express this in a loving rather than a hectoring manner. Rather than screaming “Do you know how bad this is for you?”, try saying “I don’t want you to suffer because of this, I want to help you get healthy”. It’s well established that a supportive family network can work wonders when it comes to drug abuse recovery – so it’s important to make it clear that you’re there for them, that you still love them, and that you’re willing to be that supportive network.
In Cases Of Addiction Seek Professional Advice
It may be that your teen’s drug use is a one-off or relatively minor ‘dabble’ into the world of substances. If so, you probably don’t need to worry about addiction and all that issues that this entails. If, this is the case, proceed straight to the final paragraph! If, however, your child’s drug abuse is a more serious matter, you need to seek professional help. No matter how embarrassing you may find it to admit to someone else that your child is a drug addict, if your child is to come through this and recover, they need the kind of help that only trained professionals can give. Of course, your aid will be crucial to the recovery process – your support will mean everything! But it’s best to seek medical advice and help before starting the long and sometimes difficult recovery process. It’s also a good idea to enlist support from friends and/or family in this matter, as addiction recovery takes a serious toll not only on the addict themselves, but on those who care for them.
In Cases Of Experimentation, Work Out ‘Why?’
If, on the other hand, your child has merely been ‘dabbling’ in drugs, it’s a good idea to work out precisely why they’re doing so. Are they simply trying ‘new things’? Were they pressured into doing so by their peer group? Are they expressing tacit anger at issues at home or at school, by kicking against the strictures of adult authority? Are they seeking a vent for frustrations? Are they looking for thrills they don’t feel they’re getting in their life as it stands? Working out why your teen has been playing with drugs can often really help you to prevent the situation from getting any worse. While you may not be able to eradicate the cause entirely, you can gain an insight into your teen’s mindset, and that connection can help you to monitor behavior and advise against drug use more effectively than may otherwise have been possible.