Keeping teens off drugs is a never ending battle. The drug dealers and pushers hit every demographic reeking havoc on the lives on young people without care for the sake of their bottom line. Affluent kids are no less susceptible than inner city kids. Inner city kids receive more attention because they tend to become addicted to the “harder” drugs while affluent kids choose pot and cocaine more than any other drug.
Drug education is vital. Continuous real life examples of what they don’t want their lives to become thrown in their face over and over again. It is not enough to hold an assembly twice a year. Drug education needs to be a continuous, steady practice by parents and teachers alike. Meeting real life addicts and recovered addicts and looking at before and after portfolios carry a lot of impact and a significant effect on daily choices.
After school supervision and programs are one of the healthiest weapons against drug use. Kids who have something to do after school and a place to be until their parents get home are less likely to engage in any detrimental behavior.
Parties are the number one place a kid is likely to try drugs, even with parental supervision. Parents who insist on being home for a party are taking the right step, but no parents wants to be un-cool about it. Often supervised parties aren’t supervised any more than the parents being upstairs in their bed room while their kids are downstairs doing who knows what right under their noses. Being home is not enough. Randomly stepping through the party is a start, but occasionally stopping to talk to the kids is a better deterrent.
Every parent needs to able to recognize the first signs of drug use in their child. Sudden and drastic behavioral changes and irritability may not necessarily mean drugs, but it could. Changes in over all attire and a general sloppiness, skipping showers and falling grades or ignoring homework assignments are typically strong signs that something is changing, and the culprit may very well be drug use.
Asking the direct question may offend the child who is not using drugs, but it is better to offend them on the side of caution than it is to tip toe around the subject and allow drug use to get out of hand. While they are likely to deny it, often their response is enough to tell you whether they are hiding something from you.
If you are going to search their room, it is better to do it with them present. It is a violation to most teenagers to have parents snooping through their belongings, but their safety is more important. Searching their room in front of them not only at least lets them know that you will not violate their trust and go behind their back, but it gives you a chance to face the issues head on. They will be angry with you for quite awhile, and just because they don’t have paraphernalia in the home doesn’t mean that you’re suspicions aren’t warranted.
Mood changes, appearance changes, and dropping grades are the most common signs of drug use. There may be other influential factors that are causing the change, but you really can’t know until your child provides you with a answer in one form or another. Despite the tips they are getting from their friends on sneaking their drug use so they are not caught, sooner or later they are bound to make a mistake, and let’s hope that it’s sooner rather than later.
Most schools will confirm your suspicion if your child is showing radical changes in school. Often school intervention can be just as effective as parental intervention. Parents can be too close to the issue. No parent wants to find out their child is using drugs. They are naturally and understandably quick to accept excuses or alternative possibilities to explain the behavior.
If you have hard evidence or your child has confessed to drug use, even minimal drug use, get help immediately. Strong intervention and restricted behavior requirements are life saving techniques that have been proven to work. They are not pleasant, but there is not pleasant alternative. Drugs kill, they cause violent crime, and they ruin lives. Don’t mess around with a teenager on drugs. There are programs that can help even without health insurance or the ability to pay. Get help.
If you only have a suspicion, get help. Drug use is not a problem that parents can readily deal with without some form of assistance. If they are angry at you, they will get over it. If you are a terrible parent in their eyes, they will get over it. Get help.
Their dealer certainly doesn’t care about their well being and neither do their friends. As a parent you are usually their only savior to life of drug use and the consequences therein. Cry if you need to, but do not hesitate not even for a few hours to get your child the help they so desperately need.