Once your kids become full-fledged teenagers, many will start experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. There are obvious implications for this, such as future drug addiction and, in extreme cases, being arrested for conspiracy to supply class B drugs, or maybe even class A.

In this post, we’re going to break down how to spot drug use in your child and what you should do if you find out they’re doing it. Read on for more…

How Do You Spot Drug Use in Your Child?

Telling whether your teens are on drugs or just being their moody teenage selves can be difficult. It’s a distinction you need to make, as drug abuse in your child is something you need to spot early and give your full attention to.

Here are some common signs that your teenager is doing drugs:

  • Becoming socially withdrawn and hanging out with ‘the wrong crowd.’
  • Lying or secretive behavior
  • Sudden, drastic changes in their behavior
  • Neglecting their physical appearance or their responsibilities
  • Drastic weight changes
  • Newfound trouble in school
  • Stealing money from you
  • Bloodshot, red, or glossy eyes with either small or dilated pupils
  • Smelling like smoke or alcohol

If these signs aren’t enough to convince you one way or the other that they’re taking drugs, you could go through their stuff. Going this route would be a breach of trust under normal circumstances, but in this case, you’re doing what is best for the wellbeing of your child.

This investigation will either confirm your suspicions or leave the question of whether your child is using drugs open for interpretation. Now that you have your evidence, or at least your suspicions, it’s time to act.

What Actions Should You Take When You Catch Your Kids with Drugs?

As a parent, suspecting or finding out your child has been using drugs can be a jarring and frightening time. The only thing you can do is confront it, but what’s the best way to go about it?

1. Educate yourself

The first thing you need to do is understand the damage that drug use can cause in children.

During adolescence, the brain goes through many changes and is not fully developed until it reaches its mid-20s. This means that using drugs before can damage the brain long-term and cause health issues in adulthood.

Also, using addictive substances at a young age can lead to a higher likelihood of drug dependency later in life. When you sit down with your child to discuss why they shouldn’t take drugs, having the facts to hand can be helpful.

2. Set a realistic goal

Once you’ve educated yourself on the finer details of teenage drug use, it’s a good idea to set a realistic goal for the conversation you plan to have with them.

For example, it might be too unrealistic to expect them to admit to using drugs and pledge to stop in your first conversation with them. A more reasonable objective might be just making sure they know you don’t want them to do it and why.

To make this easier on yourself and achieve long-term success, remember to:

  • Keep your expectations to a minimum
  • Set small goals and move towards them
  • Have a clear idea of the rules and consequences you’d like to establish
  • Don’t set consequences you are unlikely to enforce
  • Listen to your child’s feedback

3. Get on the same page with your partner

Most parents will be familiar with their child going to their partner when they don’t get what they want from you. To give your approach the best chance of success, make sure your partner is on the same page as you so your child can’t find any weaknesses to exploit.

When you talk to your partner about this, remember to:

  • Remind them that nobody is to blame
  • Agree on the position you’ll take – even if you don’t look at first
  • Pledge not to undermine each other

4. Start the conversation

Now that you’re educated on the topic, have reasonable goals in mind, and are on the same page with your partner, it’s time to have the conversation with your child. When you decide to talk to your child about their drug use, remember to converse, not confront.

Don’t act on pure emotion or judge them. Just stay calm and try to achieve your goals. It’s a good idea to open up the topic by asking your child about their friends, as it will allow you to gain insight into how they feel about drug use without directly confronting them.

You should also let your kid have input into the expectations and consequences you’ve decided to set for them. If it feels too much like you’re dictating rules, you could risk losing your child’s respect, and they could continue to take drugs out of defiance.

Remember to:

  • Stay calm
  • Rely on your partner for support
  • Make sure your child knows the dangers of drug use
  • Make sure they know what you expect of them
  • Involve them in the conversation

5. Seek professional help

As much as you can do everything in your power to treat this situation methodically and carefully to achieve the optimum outcome, you’re not an expert. So, there are plenty of opportunities for your conversation to go wrong.

When it comes to something as serious as your child using drugs, you might need to call in professionals. The one thing you don’t want to do is have your conversation, take your foot off the pedal, and allow your child to get further addicted to drugs.

Early intervention is critical to maintaining your child’s health and wellbeing and to achieve a sober, drug-free lifestyle in the future.

Will This be Enough to Help my Child with Their Drug Use?

In this post, we’ve discussed how to tell if your child is using drugs and what to do if you suspect them of doing so.

By following the advice in this article, we hope you can get some answers and make some headway. If you’re still worried that your child is taking drugs, call in a professional to help you through it. This is a critical time for you to act, so make sure you’re doing everything in your power to help them.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be used to substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you seek medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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