You’re not helping your child if you make excuses when you know your child misses school or family functions because of not feeling well, especially when you suspect something else is at play. Take the next step: Get more information and talk to your child.
When do you take action? Sooner rather than later is always the best. You can immediately begin to more closely monitor your child’s activities. Have a few conversations. Ask why he/she is using drugs. Get to know your kid’s friends and their parents. When you get a better idea of the situation, then you can decide what the next steps should be. These could include setting new rules and consequences that are reasonable and enforceable — such as a new, earlier curfew, no cell phone or computer privileges for a period of time, or less time hanging out with friends. You may want to get them involved in new or other activities that will keep them busy and help them meet new people. For more information about how to address your teen’s alcohol and drug use and how to set and enforce rules, see our resource list at the end of this page.
Have Uncovered A Problem?
The most important thing you can do is to not deny its existence. If you don’t think you can handle it yourself, ask for help. You are not alone. Many parents have been in your shoes. Find them for support and insight. Contact someone at your child’s school. Remember, school staff can be your best ally. While it may be difficult to get past the feelings of embarrassment and failure, the truth is asking for help is the best thing you can do for your child, yourself and your family. The most important thing is for you to take action on your child’s behalf — help him/her stop using drugs and alcohol. Look to your community for resources to help you. Also, there are many prevention and treatment specialists who can guide and inform you:
- School counselors and student assistance professionals
- Employee assistance professionals
- Family doctors or pediatricians
- Faith leaders
- Community health centers
- Adolescent prevention or treatment professionals
- Local community anti-drug coalitions
Ask your child if there is someone they trust or feel comfortable talking to. They shouldn’t necessarily make the final decision, but they are more likely to be an active participant if they have a say in what happens.
Take your child to the doctor or talk to the school nurse and ask him or her about screening your child for drugs and alcohol. This may involve the health professional asking your child a simple question, or it may involve a urine or blood drug screen. Drug testing of kids is a complicated issue and is best done within the context of a doctor-patient-parent relationship. Sharing your concerns with your health professional can help you get the advice and assistance you need. If you have an appointment with your child’s doctor, call ahead to make time to discuss this issue.
It may also help to talk to other parents who have experienced what you are going through. You may feel as though you are the only family dealing with this issue, but know that there are parent support groups in your community.
Parents Are The Most Important Influence In a Child’s Life
Research shows that parents are central to preventing teen drug use. In fact, kids themselves say that losing their Influence in a parents’ trust and respect are the most important reasons not to use drugs. As a parent, your actions matter. When you suspect, or know, that your child has been drinking or using drugs, take action to stop it as soon as you can. It may be the most important step you ever take.