If you are a parent and you are suspecting teen drug use in your home, we understand and empathize with this challenge. Indeed, it is difficult finding out that you are a parent of an addict, and the stigma which can be attached to that. Knowing what to do and how to help your teen can be overwhelming and stressful. Just starting the conversation with your teen can be the most difficult hurdle to overcome.
However, such a dark moment is not the end. Instead, it can be the start of a new beginning and positive change for your teen, leading to a path of recovery. Such a turn often leads to openness and healing within a family. Without a doubt, there are numerous treatment resources and tools available, both online and in-person. Thus, you are not alone, and Teen Rehab is here to help.
The Challenge of Talking Openly About Teen Drug Use
On the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website, Dr. Nora Volkow, a highly respected Director of NIDA, writes an open letter to parents about teen drug use. In the letter, Dr. Volkow writes, “Talking to our children about drug use isn’t always easy, but it is crucial… Sometimes, just beginning the conversation is the hardest part.”
A major goal of this article is to help parents with that challenge. Whether your teenager is vaping marijuana, drinking alcohol, or taking prescription painkillers, we want to help you at the first sign of teen drug use. Then, you need to know how to confront your child when you find drugs and what steps to take in regard to treatment for your teen and support for you as a parent of an addict.
Before taking this step, however, it’s critical to know the signs of drug use in teens.
Knowing the Signs of Drug Use in Teens
Although many of the below signs can occur in teens not using drugs, they also can be a red flag of drug use when these signs happen in conjunction. It helps, however, to find concrete evidence before bringing this issue forward to your teen.
Eight Signs of Drug Use in Teens
- Bloodshot eyes and avoiding eye contact
- Flushed cheeks and rapid heart rate
- Appearing to be in a daze with dilated pupils
- Careless personal hygiene or disheveled appearance
- Chewing gum or eating mints to mask their breath
- A strange smell on their clothes or in their room
- An unusual increase or decrease in appetite
- Secretive behaviors like locking doors or extended bathroom use
Finding Further Evidence of Teen Drug Use
For a parent to find further evidence of teen drug use, they need to understand the mind of a teen drug addict. In the home, a teen drug addict may feel afraid of being caught. Therefore, a teen may try to hide their drugs in their room. They may also hide their drug paraphernalia like lighters, vaping devices, glass pipettes, rolling papers, pill bottles, needles, razor blades, and the like.
According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, common hiding places of the evidence of teen drug use include the following locations in a teenager’s room:
- Beneath or between clothes and in pockets of clothes in dresser drawers
- Under the bed in shoe boxes or innocent-looking board game boxes
- Tucked between books on a bookshelf or in books with pages cut out
- In makeup cases, in compacts, inside fake lipstick tubes, or in jewelry boxes
- In fake soda bottles with false bottoms or empty boxes or bags of candy
- Inside typical over-the-counter medicine containers like Tylenol or Advil
However, it is important to respect your teen’s privacy and space as well. So, inspecting your teen’s room for evidence of drugs should be done carefully and with good judgement that drug use could be a real issue at play.
How to Confront Your Child When You Find Drugs
Before having the initial conversation with your teen, prepare for it to be difficult and potentially hostile. You should be on the same page with your spouse in how you will approach the topic. Also, setting realistic goals with a specific outcome in mind can be helpful in managing expectations.
Prepare in advance for the different excuses and denials that your teenager may use. They might lie and claim to be holding it for someone else or blame it on an older sibling. Further, make sure to approach the conversation sensibly. From experience, we know that reacting to this news in a highly emotional way, whether being upset or angry, will only complicate the issue. Being accusatory will also put your teenager on the defensive. Moreover, parents can set out realistic rules and consequences of drug use in the home that will be actively enforced.
Ultimately, the key is to speak to your teen in a calm manner, focusing on honesty, educational awareness of the consequences of drug use, and finding a common ground. Understanding your teen’s perspective while also being firm on finding a constructive path that leads to positive outcomes is important.
Online Support Groups for Parents of Drug Addicts
Online support groups for parents of drug addicts are plentiful with the assistance of online forums and communication tools like Zoom. Parents can share their experiences and offer helpful insight to other parents who may be struggling with similar issues with their teens.
In addition to support groups for parents of drug addicts, there is also ways to seek professional help available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a national helpline and online resources which can be helpful. Secondly, the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides valuable information for parents and teenagers on the NIDA for Teens website.
Furthermore, if you need to seek professional help and guidance regarding teen drug use, Teen Rehab is here to help. Please contact us by calling 855-416-9503.