Not a Laughing Matter
There are some things about the teen stage that scare the shit out of me: drugs is one of them.
It is not because I am a prude or a goody-two-shoes. It is because I have witnessed first hand just how dangerous they can be. From the tween stage, I have been genuine with my kids that drugs scare me and that I have a zero tolerance for them. As they got older I shared further information about why I hate drugs: they killed my cousin. I never really thought my kids would try hard drugs, but I was not going to pretend they might not try softer drugs like dope. It was important that we discussed that it was not me just being an 'old' as to why I am so against drugs. I encourage you
all to have honest discussions with your teens as to why drugs are not good.
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Keeping the Drama on the Downlow
Because drugs and the fear of them can evoke a great deal of emotion from parents, it is very easy for us to overreact. In saying that, I personally do not believe there is such a thing as overreacting, but maybe addressing the issue in a highly emotive, black and white, my-way-or-the-highway type attitude is not the best pathway. Dealing with drugs requires education and calculated responses. By freaking out you will do nothing other than make them hide it from you - which is worse!
So keep YOUR drama on the down-low.
Get Smart, Get Strategic!
It is important that if you suspect your teen is doing drugs that you do some research first.
It is important to get educated on the type of drugs out there and signs of use. I suggest strongly that a visit to your GP would help to get a clinical overview of what is out there at the moment.
Just keep in mind you do not - I repeat DO NOT go home and accuse your teen. You need to get your game plan sorted first. It is important that you have support, someone you can talk things through and role play if needs be. The other parent would be ideal but not always possible, but it does need to be someone your teen values and respects. When you do speak to your teen about your concerns you need to be calm and prepared. By talking things through with another adult you can 'practice' answers and situations so you are prepared.
Grasp on Reality
The last thing you want to do is accuse your teen of something they are not doing. There are ways in which you can investigate suspicions without causing trust issues with your teen. Check out this video on How Do I Know If My Teen Is Doing Drugs for some tips.
Measure your freak-out
Ok, so for me discovering one of my teens had smoked dope did not really shock me. I was more annoyed that he had lied to me (and he suffered the consequences of doing so at a later stage), but it also gave me the opportunity to go hard on my message about those drugs that I was scared of. I had 'just cause' to do so because he had been sprung. If I had only suspected it, my strategy would have had to have been different. It would have had to have had the 'hypothetically speaking' angle. If your teen does admit to trying drugs, make sure that you thank them for being honest and if you find yourself feeling pretty strongly (i.e. angry or freaked out), then please ask them if you can talk about this later.
Teaching them keeps them Safe
It is important to not just preach but to teach. There are some really good resources out there that can be used to educate and empower both you and your teen. The teen stage is ripe for risk taking as they can not really process the whole "this is a dumb idea that could hurt me" concept so it is important that we take the time to have honest and educated conversations with our teens.
It might not stop them from doing dumb things, but it might stop them from doing REALLY dumb things. You need to be educated about the realities and be prepared to be able to discuss the realities without allowing your emotions to get in the way. I found it easier to get my teens to listen if I used factual information followed by "and based of all of that, drugs scare the hell out of me because I love you so much".
If you are convinced your teen is doing drugs, then please seek help immediately. Go see your GP for services in your local area.
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