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To Snoop or Not to Snoop: Issues of Trust and Privacy
Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Despite the fact that my son Alex was cutting his sophomore classes and ignoring mounting piles of homework assignments, he readily morphed into a Constitutional scholar right before my very eyes whenever it came to the subject of privacy.  He had no aspirations to be a lawyer, but argued like one, vehemently stating that privacy was a basic human right, protected under the auspices of the 9th Amendment.  In his pursuit of life, liberty and unfettered drug use, he felt that his room, belongings, computer, and cell phone were off limits to parental scrutiny. 

As he was growing up I gave him what I thought was age-appropriate privacy, but once Alex broke the rules of our home by using substances, all bets were off.  I was waging an all out war against substance use and I needed as much information about my enemy (drugs) as possible.  Not only did it give me a handle on what was going on, but it allowed me to share information with his therapist so that we could determine the appropriate level of intervention – more therapy, an outpatient or inpatient program.

While he was actively using, I found drugs and drug paraphernalia in the most creative places – inside an electric pencil sharpener, under the rug in a corner of the closet, and inside books where pages had been cut out, not to mention clothing pockets and his backpack.  Checking Facebook and text messages on his cell phone also proved to be enlightening with messages like “R U puffin 2nite?”  Although I did not use computer-monitoring software like eBlaster to track instant messages and email, some parents do this as well.  

When I found my postal scales in his room, I immediately suspected that in addition to using, Alex was most likely dealing, a realization that terrified me on so many levels – his escalating drug use, the danger of dealing with drug dealers and the legal implications, to name a few. 

I carted everything I had found with us to Alex’s next therapy appointment, placed it on his therapist’s table with a dramatic flourish and said, “What do we do about this?”  As recognition flitted across Alex’s face, he blanched while the therapist commented that it didn’t “look good” and he would talk to Alex in more detail while I cooled my heels in the waiting room.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Pat Aussem  /  Filed under Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Privacy, snooping, Treatment, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more






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