How can I tell if my kid is using drugs? Parents often worry about how and if their child is taking drugs. They also worry about what to do if they catch their child taking drugs. This is entirely normal, and we understand your concern. If you suspect a child, someone else, or even if you are taking medications, call (706)480-8733. We are here for you and ready to help. Talk to experts about what you can do to help get your child off of drugs. Do not hesitate, call today and better the life of a child tomorrow.
Steps a Parent Can Take When They Suspect Their Child is on Drugs
Several significant shifts take place over time in a child’s life. Attending a new school or shifting from elementary school to junior high school can be challenging for kids. Shifts such as these take their attention from family and put it on making new friends. It is during these early life shifts that drug and alcohol exposure happens for the first time. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this is the best time to begin a conversation about substance use and its damage. It is also essential to recognize and talk to your child if you suspect they are on drugs.
Over time children will grow into high school, where exposure to drugs and use climbs even higher. Hanging out with friends who use drugs heightens the risk of a child or teenager engaging in substance use and alcohol consumption.
Additionally, when teenagers become young adults, the risk or likelihood of substance abuse is still high. This can lead to young adult interventions and therapies to help prevent further use. If not for this, depending on the severity of substance use, damage to the brain and body will happen. Life transitions can be incredibly challenging, and people may need some extra support throughout the process. However, can a parent tell the difference between a child using drugs and a child experiencing regular changes? And, what is the next step if I think my son or daughter is using drugs?
Recognizing Substance Use Disorder
Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder can look remarkably similar to typical teenager behavior. This makes it difficult to determine if there is a problem to address.
Symptoms such as depression, hostility, or withdrawing can be signs of hormonal changes and drug use.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse helps parents to recognize characteristic behavioral changes with common drug use signs. The symptoms indicating possible drug use are:
- Change in a friend group
- Lack of hygiene
- Grades slipping in school
- Skipping school
- Signs of depression
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Getting in trouble at school or with the law
- Crumbling relationships
Communication is Key
What can I do if my child is using drugs? The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides effective communication techniques to prepare parents for a challenging discussion with their child about drug use. The approach will determine the integrity of the child’s answer. Accusations of blame will not bring positive results and can push a child or teenager further away from communicating. Instead, try using the acronym C-A-L-M.
C is to keep control over thoughts and actions.
A is to Assess whether or not you are too upset or emotional to continue.
L is to Leave the conversation if you are feeling too upset or emotional to continue.
M is to make a plan moving forward.
Actively listening to a child is a much more robust strategy than blaming them. It encourages children and teenagers to speak actively. Create a calm space before engaging in conversation with children or teenagers about drug use to keep emotions in check while moving forward. This will provide an opportunity to extend a calm nature to a child or teenager who may not be able to control their emotions well.
Encouragement is a vital tool that helps both parent and child to connect. This can bring a sense of unity and support that promotes honest communication and understanding. Encouraging a child or teenager can help support new ideas like trying new things adopting a hobby that sparks creativity instead of using drugs. Catching the attention and interests of a child or teen that you suspect is using drugs can help them refocus their energy into something positive and away from harmful, disruptive, or merely dangerous things. Explore these options with your child or teenager to discover their new likes and dislikes. Show interest in involving them and having them participate.
Finding a Solution Together
When opening communication for a discussion, allow the child or teen to become participatory in resolving the disagreement. This can instill a sense of accomplishment and respect that many overlook when speaking with adolescents.
Between parents, teachers, and others in authority, children and teenagers do not often have a say in what happens next. Others tell them where to go and what to do for the majority of their day. Involving a child or teen in the decision-making process can wake them up to a sense of control and options that they did not have before. This has the chance to strengthen the connection between growing child and parent, promoting more honest communication and involvement in their lives and choices.
Problem-solving will focus on moving forward from here as opposed to the problems. Looking to the future can help a child or teen avoid hang-ups on the punishment or consequences and envision more positive interactions.
Thinking through the possible results of behaviors can put a clear perspective on the action to take. Understand that yelling or accusing will only make the child or teen withdraw and become defensive. This will make communication even more difficult, as it is likely that this child or teen will no longer want to discuss an issue or event with you.
Create a safe, judgment-free space that is inviting and calm. Aromatherapy is a useful tool to create a quiet space, as lavender is both relaxing and inviting. The scent of orange citrus is also a very welcoming scent that can assist in opening communication. You can do this via diffusers, candles, or incense sticks and cones.
Let’s find a solution together. Call us now, and we can provide you with more tips about keeping an open communication line.
What You Say Matters
Choosing proper verbiage is essential to a pleasant outcome. Using self-expression such as, “I feel,” and “I see” will help identify to the child that self-expression is a way to communicate without casting blame. Using phrases such as, “You did” or “You should” can cause adverse responses or feelings of guilt that will hinder the process. Self-expressed verbiage can identify the problem without singling the child or teenager out.
If you need help with more ways to talk to your child, please call us. Our professionals are fully equipped with information that can help you speak to your child today.
Negativity is Not the Way
It is easy to get caught up in an emotional discussion and say things counter-productive to the goal. There are some areas of conversation that you can avoid when possible.
Do not make assumptions about what the child or teenager is doing or has done. What the adult thinks may have happened versus what happened may be entirely different. Perspective is key to understanding, and changing the first person’s attitude to the child or teen’s perspective may surface information that you did not have before. It is okay and encouraged for parents and authority figures to ask questions first, instead of assuming that actions are apparent or straightforward.
Do not become defensive, but rather try to let go of any accusations or blame coming to you. Adults have a much better capacity to control their emotions and thoughts, whereas children or teenagers are highly emotional and experiencing hormonal changes. If the child or teen is on drugs, the emotional response may be an overreaction or appear disproportionate to the situation.
Leave the Past in the Past
Do not bring up past situations. This can make the child or teen feel trapped or unable to escape prior mistakes. Avoiding words such as “always” or “never” can help the child or teenager outgrow past mistakes and move forward. “Always” and “never” keep the child or teen trapped in an assigned pattern that they may be trying to grow out of. Allow the child or teen to grow and change, encourage growth, promote positivity, and reflect the truth.
Finally, avoid lecturing as much as possible. Communicating information is essential, but trapping the child or teen in an inescapable monologue will not yield positive results. Encourage a back and forth dialogue instead of keeping the child or teen active and involved. Lecturing presents a podium mentality, where the parent or guardian is speaking at a child or teen instead of with them. Avoid lecturing to maintain an even and neutral platform where both parties are heard and accepting of information. This reinforces the boundaries of the conversation and does not pull power to one side or the other.
Open your Mind
Initiating a brainstorm is a right way to come together to get creative about finding a solution together. Each party can come up with about three ideas on approaching a situation, how to handle a problem, and how to move forward. An open mind will find more successful solutions than a closed mind.
When discussing the ideas that have been presented, analyze each one to determine the pros and cons of each. Do this for each idea on the list until both parties can agree on a solution moving forward. Try to take action on the ideas a couple of times to ensure that this is the course of action both parties are comfortable taking. If not, re-group and customize the ideas or solutions to fit the needs of both parties. Discuss what worked and what did not to determine the best course of action.
The 4 C’s of Supervision
Templates and framework for discussion flow or actions help make the most of the time dedicated to working on things. When in doubt, it is okay to lean back onto the 4 C’s of Supervision to help along the way.
Clear rules are simple, effective, and easy to remember. A great example of clear regulations is straight to the point boundaries. Telling your child or teen that answering their cell phone is mandatory when a parent calls or will lose the privilege of attending their friend’s house.
Another example of a clear rule is stating that any request to attend something must be requested 24 hours in advance to allow time to research the event or situation. Finally, a clear rule can also be stated as, “No friends over when I am not home.” Clear and simple controls are easy to remember and not overly complicated.
Without a doubt, communication is the foundation of all relationships. Regular contact with the child or teen can begin to pave a pathway into a fluid and open connection to allow the child or teen to come to an adult on their own. Also, regular communication with the child or teen’s teacher or other guardians can help everyone stay on the same track and reinforce the same boundaries.
Although checking up is essential, but also damaging if taken too far. If the adult is telling the child or teen that there is trust between you, and then regularly check up on them, it sends mixed messages of distrust. This will hinder any progress made. Instead, assume that your child or teen has spoken the truth and verify that the truth was told one time. If proven right, initiating a reward system could be beneficial to further progression. If proven false, then it is time to come back together to re-group and re-evaluate the situation.
Finally, consistency is the key to success. Staying consistent with set boundary limits, abiding true to statements made, and maintaining a safe space for the child or teen even after the conversation is over are important ways to show the child or teen that this is how stability looks. Consistency and reliability are more important to children and teenagers, as their world is constantly changing. Every day, their lives’ dynamics are altered by friends, teachers, parents, schoolwork, emotions, and responsibilities. Staying consistent in the boundaries set and the rules made will provide the structure and routine where everyone benefits.
If you suspect your child is on drugs, call us today. We are standing by ready to help you get the tools that you need. Never feel embarrassed or judged as our experts give you great advice about helping your child. Call today, and you could better the life of a child tomorrow.