Health x Wellness

What Do You Do if You Find Drugs in Your Child’s Room?

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Discovering that your child has drugs in his or her room can be extremely distressing and disturbing, especially if you did not believe your child was capable of using drugs, lying to you, or sneaking around.

Facing the harsh reality that your teenagers may be distancing themselves from you or hiding a potential drug dependency or addiction is never easy. However, you must take proper steps and precautions when addressing any drugs you find in your child’s room.

To maintain your parent-child relationship and lend support to your child or teen, you must prepare for a rational discussion rather than anger and emotion.

Avoid Emotion and Anger

Walking into your child’s room and discovering a hidden stash of drugs and paraphernalia may send you into an emotional spiral. You may immediately feel angry, betrayed, upset, and sad, causing you to want to react emotionally.

However, avoid responding with emotion and anger. This may make repairing your relationship even more challenging. If some potential underlying causes or triggers led to drug and alcohol use, it must be addressed.

Speak to Your Spouse or Partner

You must speak with your spouse or partner before confronting or talking with your child. You must present a united front and clear goals so the child doesn’t feel betrayed by only one of you.

The more you analyse the situation without reactively responding emotionally, the more likely you are to make progress rather than causing rifts between you and your child.

Take Time to Assess the Situation

You probably cannot deal with your child’s substance abuse on your own, especially if dependence and addiction have set in. Substance abuse and addiction are complex. They have behavioral and biological triggers and causes.

Among the factors to consider are:

  • The type of substance being used
  • Your child’s age
  • If the child has become emotionally distant
  • If the child has lost interest in old friends, hobbies, sports

It may take an addiction professional to assess the situation fully and properly.

Remove Substances From Your Child’s Room

You must remove any substances and related paraphernalia you find in your child’s room, even if your child is on the verge of becoming a legal adult.

It is your legal responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of children younger than 18 years. Do this — without being noticed, if possible — even before having a conversation about the matter.

Research Substances Your Child is Using

Teenagers of all ages are using a variety of drugs and substances that may be widely unknown to most parents today. It helps if you can discover what your child is abusing before the confrontation.

This isn’t always possible, especially with illicit drugs, but you can research pill shapes, sizes, and numbers right from home on the Internet.

Resources, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Get Smart about Drugs website, can identify what drugs your child is consuming or abusing. The knowledge may give you a better understanding of why they are turning to them instead of you and help you to effectively navigate your discussion.

Consider Underlying Triggers

When you discover that your child is turning to drugs and stashing substances in their bedroom, ask yourself why they may be doing so and what has caused them to go the route of lying, hiding, and deceiving.

With any individual, it is important to consider potential underlying triggers that may be leading them to use and abuse substances of any kind. Has your child been experiencing bullying or other emotionally difficult situations at school? Is your child friends with a new crowd that may be influencing them? Has your child expressed feelings of depression or anxiety that have gone unaddressed?

Discuss the Drugs With Your Child Directly

Although daunting, it is important to discuss the drugs and substances your child has been using directly. That means providing your children with opportunities to express and explain themselves. Discuss about the following:

  • Why abusing substances of any kind is not permitted in your home. For one thing, it’s illegal. 
  • What risks they pose to your teen. There is strong scientific evidence that developing brains (age 25 and younger) are especially susceptible to addiction and damage because they are still growing. Do not exaggerate or lie, however. It’s easy to check on the Internet, and a lie now will undermine your credibility.
  • Recovery and rehabilitation options. There are both inpatient and outpatient treatments. As well as varying lengths, a 7-14 day rehab program to 90 days, some even longer. The key determinant may be your child’s willingness to cease using drugs and alcohol and past behaviors. Mental illness and substance abuse co-occur so often there is a name for it: dual diagnosis.

As a parent, it is not always simple to broach difficult topics and make serious or long-term decisions for your child, especially as they begin to age into young adulthood. However, knowing how to protect your child from potential drug and alcohol dependencies and addictions can help them to live a more healthy and fulfilling lifestyle as an adult.

Take the time to calm down and assess the situation you have encountered so you can help prepare for the discussion and intervention you intend to have with your child.

This article was contributed by Patrick Bailey. He is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

Sources in this article include:

  • – Teens and drugs: 5 tips for talking with your kids
  • – What to do if your child is drinking or using drug
  • – Tips and Tools for Parents and Mentors

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash