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How to Prepare for a Drug Intervention with Your Teenager
Thursday, October 27th, 2011

=InterventionIf you’re concerned about your teen’s drug or alcohol use, then it is time to take action. You can never be too safe or intervene too early — even if you believe your teen is just “experimenting.”

Here are 8 step-by-step ways on how to prepare for a drug intervention with your teenager:

1.    Make observations. Note changes in your teen’s usual behavior, appearance, personal habits, health, and school work. The teenage years are a physical and emotional roller coaster, so no one change is a definite indication of drug or alcohol use. But if your child has ditched her friends for a new crowd, let her good grades slip, or stopped caring about her looks, these are warning signs that may be cause for concern.

2.    Keep track. Note (in your head or in a journal) when and how often your teen breaks the rules or does something suspicious. For example, if your teen comes home way past curfew, jot down the date so you can reference it later. You may also want to keep track of the alcohol and legal drugs in your home. If you know you have exactly 20 prescription pills in your medicine cabinet, it will be easy to tell if some have gone missing. If you suspect your child is taking Rx drugs from your home, lock your medicine cabinet, dispose of pills you are no longer taking.

3.    Search for drugs and drug paraphernalia. Some parents are against snooping, while others believe they have the right to look through their children’s things. There is no correct answer, but if you want to collect concrete evidence of your child’s drug use before your intervention, here are some good places to look: dresser drawers, desk drawers, backpacks, the glove compartment of the car, the back of closets, corners of bed sheets, under the mattress or bed, small boxes, books/bookcases, makeup cases, over-the-counter medicine bottles and empty candy wrappers.

Remember: If you do find drugs in your child’s room or car, you will be accused of invading your teen’s privacy. Be prepared to defend your actions.

4.    Talk with your spouse/partner. If your teen’s other parent or caregiver does not share the same beliefs and values that you do when it comes to drugs, you will certainly hear about it from your kid. So get on the same page as your spouse or partner before you intervene with your child. “Getting on the same page” doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing – it means committing to present a united front, even if the two of you disagree on the issue.

Remember: This is a stressful situation for both you and your spouse, and you will need one another’s support. Do not blame your partner for your teen’s drug or alcohol use, or allow him/her to blame you. Your teen’s problem is no one’s fault, but you and partner do need to work together to deal with it.

5.    Recognize the significance of addiction in your family. For some, trying drugs or alcohol once or twice may just be part of the teen experience. But if there is a history of addiction in your family, your child is much more likely than other kids to become addicted.

6.    Understand this serious risk and think about how you are going to explain this to your child in a way that will make him listen.

7.    Set a desired outcome for your intervention. The “drug talk” is actually not one talk – it’s a series of conversations. Chances are, your first intervention will not resolve all problems – and that’s okay. But if you set a goal (even a small one) before you start talking, you will know where you want your conversation to ultimately lead. Would you like your teen to see a therapist? Stop binge drinking at parties? Obey curfew? Come up with a specific purpose for your intervention, and then work toward achieving it.

Remember: Don’t set your expectations too high. Your teen may not even admit to drug use the first time you intervene, let alone pledge to stop using or get help. Set reasonable goals, and realize that just expressing to your teen that you don’t want him using drugs or drinking is a small triumph.

8.    Prepare yourself for your teen’s reaction. Your teen will not be happy that you’re approaching him about his drug or alcohol use. That’s to be expected. What you might not expect is to be called a liar, hypocrite or snoop. Think about how you will handle these accusations if they come up.

You don’t need hard evidence to begin the conversation – your intuition telling you something is wrong is enough. But having past incidents or observations to reference in your conversation will help you encourage your teen to tell the truth about her drug or alcohol use.

This is an excerpt from our Intervention eBook.  For information on what to do if your child is drinking or using drugs download our Intervention eBook or read articles on Time To Act.

Do you have tips for how to prepare for a drug intervention?  Please share them in the comments section below!

Related Links:
Time To Get Help
You Are Not Alone

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, parenting, snooping  /  Comments: more



What to Do if You Think Your Child Is on Drugs
Friday, December 24th, 2010

Teens sharing pills

Take a deep breath…

You’re not a failure as a parent. You’re not helpless. And you’re not alone.

If you think you’re a failure, consider this: There are many kids with neglectful parents who never use drugs. There are also children with seemingly model parents who do use drugs.

So the first thing to accept is that drugs, while indeed dangerous, are one more problem for your youngsters to handle. And they’ll do it better and faster if you’re aware, involved and don’t stick your head in the sand.

THE AWARE PARENT HAS THE SAFEST CHILDREN

Part of awareness and a major deterrent to experimentation is to talk to your kids about drugs.

But even with a lot of parental involvement, there are no guarantees. So it’s important to know the symptoms of drug use and to take action if you see your kid displaying them.

THE WARNING SIGNS OF DRUG USE

There are no symptoms that are absolutely reliable. But there are clues.

Most of these symptoms tend to be gradual which is why parental awareness is so important.

Don’t jump to conclusions, but do investigate any suspicions you have as fully as possible. Trust your intuition.

Many of the warning signs for drug use are the same as those for depression or for the ups and downs of being a teenager. There’s also the possibility it’s a physical or emotional problem.

But whatever the problem, we’re talking about a child who needs help. Right now.

START WITHIN THE FAMILY – BUT DON’T WAIT TO GET HELP IF THERE IS A PROBLEM

Nothing beats the power of love and family support. That has to start with frank discussion.

Don’t make it an attack. And don’t try to talk with your child if he or she seems under the influence.

Wait for a calm moment and then explain that you’re worried about a certain behavior (be specific) and give your child every opportunity to explain. That means really listening, not doing all the talking.

Use “I” messages — sentences that start with “I” — explaining how your child’s drug use affects you and your family.

At the same time, it’s important to speak frankly about the possibility of drugs. And it’s particularly important to talk about your values and why you’re dead set against drugs.

If your youngster seems evasive or if his or her explanations are not convincing, you should consult your doctor or a professional substance abuse counselor to rule out illness and to ask for advice.

In addition, you may also want to have your child visit a mental health professional to see if there are emotional problems.

FURTHER ACTION IS PROBABLY NECESSARY

Even if your child seems non-responsive or belligerent, if you suspect drugs are involved, immediate action is vital.

First, you’ll need an evaluation from a health professional skilled in diagnosing adolescents with alcohol or drug problems. You may want to get involved with an intervention program to learn techniques that will help convince a drug user to accept help. For the user, there are self-help, outpatient, day care, residency, and 24-hour hospitalization programs.

The right program depends entirely on the circumstances and the degree of drug involvement. Here, you’ll need professional help to make an informed choice.

Another point: If a program is to succeed, the family needs to be part of it. This can mean personal or family counseling. It may also involve participating in a support group where you learn about co-dependency and how not to play into the problems that might prompt further drug use.

If you don’t know about drug programs in your area, call your family doctor, local hospital or county mental health society or school counselor for a referral. You can also call a national helpline and get a referral, read our Treatment eBook for advice  or use the treatment locator.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T GIVE UP

That child who upsets you so much is the same little boy or girl who, only yesterday, gave you such joy. They’re in way over their heads, and they never needed you quite as much as they need you now.

No matter what they say.

Posted by Community Manager Olivia  /  Filed under Addiction, Confronting Teens, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Denial, snooping, Warning Signs  /  Comments: more



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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