A Scared Mum’s Questions About Drug Use
Michelle. I was wondering if you could offer a scared, confused mum some advice or maybe post on Facebook for advice from other parents. My son is now 14 almost 15.
Last November I found eVaping equipment in his room which he said he bought off somebody on the school bus. Fast forward to last Sunday (my instinct was on overdrive) so I went looking and I found a selection of eVape equipment and looking further I came across marijuana and something in a clear capsule that once opened resembled crystals.
He admitted to buying the drugs at XX last Friday night - supposedly the contact was made via Snapchat - the dealer was a suggested friend so my son added him.
I’ve done lots of googling this week and have read that 25% of teenagers will try drugs but not sure how much is peer pressure, how long he’s actually been doing it and where to from here.
I have a friend who’s a police officer and her husband is in the drug squad. I spoke to her on Sunday about speaking to the police and we decided against it. I’m really worried about his state of mind at how he has disappointed us and being caught and she spoke to him at length about future ramifications and risks to his health.
There are videos on his phone of him vaping, other boys doing it, some at school, some at home. I really can’t let the school know as they’d probably be suspended. Sorry it’s so long but I was hoping you could point me in some sort of direction😪
Firstly, I want to say that I do not consider myself a drugs and alcohol expert. I would instead like to point you to Paul Dillion from DARTA. I’m a big fan of Paul Dillon. I spoke with him at Generation Next’s Perth Conference a few years back, and he always approaches this topic with hope and positivity. I love his approach. His website and work can be found at: http://darta.net.au/
I would also like to point you to the Talking to Teens Podcast. I love this podcast and have been privileged to be interviewed on Andy’s show. The particular interview I think will be helpful is with Robert J. Meyers. He is the author of “Getting Your Loved One Sober”. In this episode, he explores strategies that parents can use to get teenagers to stop using drugs and alcohol. The link is: https://talkingtoteens.com/drug-and-alcohol-conversations/
I’d like to add some practical thoughts for moving forward:
· The WHY or WHYS behind drug and alcohol use will help you tailor make support. You know your own kid, so use your common sense. Young people can use drugs for many reasons – social acceptance, anxiety, fun, self-harm, identify challenges, or a combination of all these. Zoom in on what matters. Drug use is very often to do with poor decision-making and a lack of adequate coping strategies. We can’t see or treat drug use in isolation of their overall life.
· I recently wrote an article about how to stabilise a child who is struggling which helps parents identify the “big boxes” which need to be moved before teens can navigate their way forward. This article might help you focus on your son as a whole person. The big boxes are foundational! READ THE ARTICLE HERE
· Remember the stage of life that all teenagers are in, including his friends. His or her brain is currently re-structuring which makes problem solving more difficult, and his brain more susceptible to addictions. That means they need you more than ever. For more information on brain develop go to – www.drdansiegel.com
· Research tells us that family has a big impact on what support is accepted by a young person. If you want to talk to your child about counselling check out this blog post READ BLOG POST HERE
· If your son or daughter is not ready to see a psychologist or counsellor, start the ball rolling by going on your own. The most important thing is that you make confident parenting decisions. Having a sounding board for these decisions is going to be a lifeline for you!
· We tend to turn to google for information when we are afraid. Caution: Be careful what you listen to and make sure you focus your time on reputable sites. Otherwise, you will do your head in! You might have to use a lot of self-control to keep yourself from reading random blogs and community discussion.
· Ask your teenager, “What can I do to help?” Don’t make assumptions in this area. It is easy to take their independence away by making decisions for them. Instead, try and empower their decisions. I know this is not always easy, especially when we see them harming themselves, but we can start small.
· Avoid labelling them (eg. drug user). Labels don’t help people change behaviour. When approaching difficult conversations always think soft and close. For more on this strategy check out: READ STRATEGY HERE
· Ultimately, remember one thing, connecting and leaning in are everything. Research which spans across 20 years tells us that one caring adult who holds a child to high expectations is what gets kids through difficult times. Be that one person in their lives which leans in and calls them to their potential.
“Self-harm: Why Teens Do It and What Parents Can Do To Help” might be a helpful read. Much of the advice in this book will help parents approach drug use in teens.
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