Most teens will try at least one type of recreational drug at least once before they graduate high school. It’s a scary thought, but statistics have shown that very few kids make it through their adolescence without at least checking their curiosity with some amount of experimentation. Unfortunately, the social attitudes regarding this experimentation are rather relaxed, and the drugs that most kids are trying are tempting fate. Does that mean your child is a regular drug user? No. Not at all. Most kids who go through experimentation do not continue to dabble in drug use after a short period of time. A lot of kids state that they simply, “don’t like the way being high feels.” A great many teens experience near misses with their health and safety with just the first go around and learn quickly that this is not the way they want to head. But what about the other kids, the ones who find that being high is fun and exciting and they are suddenly changing right before your very eyes?
Kids who start getting into regular drug use alter their behavior. And they do so rather quickly. One day they seem like the same kid you’ve always known and the next day it seems like they have been replaced by some scary imposter. They become secretive and they start telling the most obvious of lies. They start to dress differently and slowly stop caring about the things they once loved. They can have the most wild mood swings and be completely complex. And of course, their physical appearance starts to change as their eyes glaze over and their skin turns to a different shade, often gray.
Many of these symptoms of drug use can also indicate other issues as well. Depression, new friends, changes within the home, and deep personal conflicts can also be the reason behind some of these behaviors. It can be very difficult and frustrating to tell.
So what is a parent to do? First of all, talk to your kids often about your opinion of drugs. Remind them that it can only take one time for a fatal reaction to occur. Explain the harsh realities, even if you think they are a little young to hear it. Once is simply not enough. You have to tell them again and again and again. Kids don’t seem like they are paying attention, but most kids admit that their parents can still hold a great amount of influence in their lives when they are making decisions. They just don’t want you to know that.
A good friend of mines started a special parenting group the year her son turned 13. She decided to start a group that held each parent accountable for checking in with their kids and exhibiting responsible parenting. The idea of this group was to help single parents keep their accountability for their actions and decisions. Soon, married parents entered the group simply because it helped to maintain communication between parents. This group would often ask each other questions to help ascertain what was going on in their home. For instance, they would ask is your teenager doing drugs or is your teenager having sex? By trying to honestly answer these types of questions, parents could help each other decipher behaviors they were witnessing and come up with the most honest answer they could. Groups like this can be very helpful for parents of children of all ages.
Of course, you don’t have to be part of a group to pay attention to your child’s behavior. Any type of radical change is a signal that something is amiss and you might want to find a drug rehab center you can trust, as a parent it is your job to sit down with your kid to talk it over. If they are doing drugs, they aren’t likely to admit it to you. But that doesn’t mean the effort doesn’t pay off big time. Most kids will “cool it” if they feel that their parents are starting to figure out that they are hitting it. They might not stop all together, but they will at least slow down their usage. This is a start. Over time, they will feel that the pressure has lifted and start doing their drugs of choice more often. Again you will start to notice the same behavioral changes that concerned you the first time. You might even be able to look back ad see a pattern over a rather short period of time.
In most cases, a teenager that is doing drugs will eventually slip up. Of course, by then they have probably been doing more than mere experimentation. Sooner or later, they aren’t able to be as careful not to get caught because they are too busy chasing the high. You might find drug paraphernalia in their room or catch them during a strong buzz. We all want to believe that our child is doing well. Don’t be too quick to believe that you aren’t seeing what you know is true. They aren’t holding it for a friend and they weren’t going to throw it away when they got the chance. If there is evidence right in front of your eyes to back up your suspicions, for the sake of your child, don’t turn a blind eye because it is easier to believe their poorly crafted story.
If you are convinced that your child is engaging in drug use, there are home tests available at your pharmacy. These tests are rather expensive for the one time you get to use them, but knowing for sure might be the only priceless way to confront a teen who is particularly slick and has yet to make any dead give away errors. When it comes to determining matters of health and safety, like is your teenager doing drugs having concrete evidence can be a life saver. Literally.