What if my child is already using drugs or alcohol?
Dealing with a teen who has a drug or alcohol problem is one of the most difficult situations a parent can face. Try to remember that there is help — and hope. Check out the Parent Resource Page for more information.
Prevent Drug Use at Every Age
Whether your child is a preschooler, in middle and high school, or a ’20 something – the Partnership for Drug Free Kids Parent Talk Kit will help you guide children toward a healthy life at every age! Download the Kit by clicking the link below:
A Quiz about Talking and Active Listening with your Teen
The next time your teen flies off the handle, try using "active listening" to get past the emotions and on to what's really going on. Click the link below to download the quiz:
Parent’s guide to the legal drugs kids are using and abusing
Marijuana Talk Kit
Have a meaningful, productive conversations with your teen talk about marijuana from The Partnership at Drugfree.org
Features an interactive simulation that helps you learn the dos & don’ts of talking with teens about alcohol use
Other Parent Resources
How Parents Can Prevent Drug Abuse — The National Crime Prevention Council
Kids and Alcohol — Nemours
Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol — National Institutes of Health
Parents: The Anti-Drug — National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign
Real Kids Are Curious About Alcohol — Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
STOP Underage Drinking — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Blog — Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services
Talking with Teens about Alcohol — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Talking with Your Middle Schooler about Alcohol — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Time to Talk — Partnership at Drugfree.org
Check out this blog about teen substance abuse — written for parents by parents.
What if I suspect my child is already using?
So you now believe your child or teenager has an addiction problem. What’s next?
First, there is hope. With the right diagnosis, intervention and treatment plan, your loved one can escape the grip of this disease. But how do you start? How do you approach your child?
Joanne Peterson, founder of Learn 2 Cope, suggests these strategies:
1. If you have suspicions that your child or teen is “using,” formulate a plan:
- Get educated about the illness by researching it online or attending a local Learn 2 Cope meeting
- Locate a substance use counselor or treatment center that you may want to tap into, if your child needs help
- Build a team of close relatives or friends around you for support (for both you and your child)
2. Buy a drug test:
- Learn 2 Cope recommends a 12 panel urine test, found at many drug stores over-the-counter. Make sure it can give fast results in your home (without having to mail to a lab
- 12 panel tests can cost $40. Learn 2 Cope sells them for $15
3. Talk to your child:
- Tell them you love them and you are worried about them
- Explain that you’ve noticed behaviors that are different in them
- Assert that it is your responsibility, if they are sick, to get them well, just as if they had diabetes, and were not eating a healthy diet or not taking proper medication, you would insist on a doctor visit
- Ask them if they are taking any substances you need to know about
- Regardless of whether they say yes or no, ask them to take the drug test. If they accuse you of not trusting them, say this isn’t about trust, it’s about being healthy
- If the test is positive, explain you need to get them help before it turns into a lifelong addiction
- Make it clear that it is your expectation they will not do drugs in the house and that they will participate in getting treatment. Also let them know that you will stand by them and do everything you can to help
This is not an easy conversation. And it doesn’t always go well. You can expect your child/teen to be angry and deny any problem. You may have to speak to him/her several times, including with members of that team of family/friends you put together. Stay strong. And know that there are community networks that can help
Use this tool to locate drug and alcohol treatment programs
Connect with other parents dealing with substance use
Call the Parents Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE today
Go through this checklist to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, too
Find more important resources for parents with children who are using at:
Time to Get Help — The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is trusted resource that provides information and resources for parents, teens, and the community at large.
The 20-Minute Guide
Does your child have a substance abuse problem? Unlike other approaches, this guide teaches you how to stay involved in a positive, ongoing way. With worksheets, examples and tips, you’ll learn how to get more of what you want from your child, how to talk to your child so that you are heard and how to take better care of yourself.